As horses evolved the constant threat of predators resulted in them adapting to conceal signs of pain and disease, which otherwise might mark them out as weak and easily picked off.
The British natives probably demonstrate this stoic behaviour more than any other breeds. This may explain why we sometimes detect serious dental disease at routine examinations in animals that are not showing obvious signs of problems.
At a recent routine dental examination of a Welsh cob, I identified a midline sagittal (straight through the middle) fracture of the 307 (lower left second) cheek tooth. The inner fragment had tipped towards the tongue, the outer fragment outward towards the cheek, with food becoming trapped in the middle. Despite this, the pony (who lived at grass) was in good body condition and behaving normally when ridden.
The offending tooth was extracted at the practice, using sedation and local anaesthetic. By loosening the attachments to the gum, bringing the fragments together and extracting the tooth as a whole.
Afterwards the cavity remaining was packed with swabs and will be healed by granulating.
A week later healing was progressing well and the pony was able to return to work.
Without extraction the sharp edges of the fragments could have damaged the tissues of the cheek and tongue or the food packing deep into the mandible could have resulted in a serious infection in the bone. Luckily with regular dental examinations these complications were avoided, despite the stoic nature of our wonderful native ponies.
This case highlights why dental examinations are important, call us on 01332 294929 for more information and advice.