Let's Think Carefully About What Our Horses' Behaviour, Age and Wellness are Telling Us About Their Emotional & Physical Needs...
Prowler is my Appaloosa Thoroughbred X in the picture above. He was 28 at the time this photo was taken. At that time he'd had his teeth 3 point balanced by a highly skilled equine dentist and I knew his teeth were good. In this photo he was and eating from a 1" Handy Hay Net and was relaxed and comfortable. I knew he was getting enough and he and Ruby the Mule had 2 bale bags and 2 medium bags filled at all times. Food was not an issue.
Prowler is now about to be 31. While he is relatively very healthy for his age, good feet and strong consitution have served him well, he's started to have some teeth issues. A few weeks ago he was balling up food and dropping it. I did make an appointment with a holistic vet who comes to the area sometimes but that fell through. She did recommend that I double the dose of the anti-inflammatory that he's been on for the past year. Thankfully he stopped dropping chewed hay shortly thereafter. I also added an extra mash during the day (making 3 total) of soaked organic alfalfa pellets to relieve his jaw of some chewing, and started to feed more loose hay placed all around the large property so that he didn't have to eat from the slow feeder bags unless he wanted to.
I'm not yet sure what's going on as I don't have immediate access to his dentist Grant MacKinnon, and am very hesitant to let just anyone in his mouth as teeth can be brittle at this age and things can easily be made worse. There's no infection or anything URGENT for me to tend to but his TMJ has been tight and I spend about 3 sessions a week doing Masterson's Method, t-touch and energy work depending on what he is receptive to.
I'm a strong believer and user of hay bags but haven't used the 1" for a long time because the hay here wasn't suitable (too short often or too fine) so I went to 1.5" bags. Given Prow's jaw discomfort he has lots of options here depending on how he feels. Loose hay plus many slow feeder hay bags. One is even about 2.5" (less desirable hay in it though). We need to pay attention and adjust accordingly!
One of my holistic vet's Dr. Laura Taylor, DVM of Alberta said, when I asked her about whether she thought slow feeder hay bags could cause jaw problems, "the horse chews about 40,000 times a day. This means if there is any dissfunction, they are able to work it out and release it themselves by simply chewing."
BUT that's only if the horses teeth
I'm Jai Sequoia. I live in the spectacular mountains of the West Kootenays in beautiful British Columbia. Read more