Last night we went on our first trail ride in six weeks, and it felt awfully good. I’ve been going to the barn but just not riding much. Between the awful heat and humidity we’ve been having and then Scottie’s lump issue, I haven’t ridden in almost a month.
Three weeks ago, Scottie developed a lump on the lower edge of his jaw that sprouted almost overnight. It was hard and as large as my fist, and I suspected a tooth abscess, especially since he’d had a lump in the same spot a year ago that wasn’t nearly as big. The vet was called, and she concurred. We arranged for an equine dentist to come out this past Friday to do something about the tooth and see what else may be going on.
In the meantime, I went to the barn twice daily to apply hot compresses to his cheek, and Scottie was put on antibiotics. The vet had tried to lance the abscess with an 18 gauge needle, but it only drained a llittle bit and then closed up. The following night, I brought along my husband the human dentist. With a small scalpel, he cut into the cheek tissue and got it to drain a little more. To our amazement, Scottie stood perfectly still for this procedure and only gave a small flinch at the first cut. After that the lump began to go down ever so slightly and has continued to drain.
Scottie had not been seen by an equine dentist in over ten years. I depended on the clinic vet who does the Spring checkups and shots to let me know if he needed anything more than a routine float and she hadn’t. Up here in the hinterlands of Michigan, we don’t have a lot of equine specialists and no equine dentists, so we had to call one to come from downstate. As luck would have it, he was here for the week, so we got him to squeeze Scottie into his schedule.
I was very impressed with Steve Shaver of Equine Dental Services. He espouses a natural horsemanship approach to equine dentistry and doesn’t have horses sedated unless they’re particularly afraid and unruly. Scottie was neither, even though the vet came along just in case.
An examination of Scottie’s mouth revealed that he had no abscessed tooth. In fact, his teeth are in excellent condition for his age (26), but the molars did have sharp points on them from uneven wear, and they had worn a sore on the other cheek. Working quietly and gently, Steve floated Scottie’s teeth, removed a hook on a front incisor and removed tartar from his canines. Scottie was an excellent patient and even seemed to appreciate the treatment to alleviate his mouth problems.
|Another view. I clipped him a few weeks ago to make him cooler so he looks a little wierd|
My husband came along, and the two dentists chatted and compared equine to human treatments and kept the vet and I entertained. My husband was especially interested in the oversized equine dental tools and remarked that Scottie was a far better patient than some of his own and that his mouth smelled a lot better, too. We got to stick our arms in Scottie's mouth to feel his teeth which was kind of awesome.
In the end, the dentist’s assessment was that Scottie may have bitten his cheek which caused a piece of hay to be imbedded into the cheek tissue which led to the abscess. It seems to be resolving now, and we are resuming normal activities.
While Scottie had that lump and a possible abscessed tooth, I didn’t have the heart to put a bridle on his cheek and a bit in his mouth. But last night I decided it was time to get back to riding. Ann, Kathy and I went out on a lovely trail ride on an evening that was very comfortable. Since we stayed in the woods, the flies weren’t bad at all. In order to stay in the woods we had to go down the steep hill, and although I could tell Scottie was stiff and sore in the hind end, he trucked down that hill with relative enthusiasm, only stopping now and then to grab a mouthful of leaves. He was obviously enjoying the trail ride as much as I was. We stayed out until almost dark, coming back up that steep hill to the barn, resting every so often, and Scottie was in good shape when we got back.
Ahh, it’s good to be back in the saddle again!
PS Be sure to watch Steve's video!
PS Be sure to watch Steve's video!