Mocha’s Dental Moment

Some horses don’t get excited or worried about vet visits.  After several hock injections, as well as tooth floats and vaccinations, it’s clear that Mocha is not one of those horses.  She’s clearly developed the association that arrival of vet truck=shots of some sort, and She Has Opinions about that.  The only other horse I’ve owned with a similar attitude was my first Shetland, Windy Foot, whose reaction tended toward heading for the hills (usually dragging me along with him) when the vet rolled in wearing his white coat.

Mocha’s not so bad, but still, on Friday when the vet truck drove in while I rode her in the outdoor, she clearly recognized it.  Flick of the ear backward, snort, tensing of the back, and the Evil Eye.  I wrapped up the ride (short and mellow, more just to get her worked a little bit) and brought her inside.

Another horse was getting dental work plus injections and, since he’s a boy, a speshul Vet Treat of Sheath Cleaning.  I parked Mocha in the crossties nearby and brushed her up.  While she wasn’t freaking out about watching her stablemate get drilled and shot and scrubbed, she Was Watching.  Closely.  At one point she spooked when the owner of the other horse, someone who she’s known from birth (like me), tried to pet her nose.  A little walk outside to let her relax took care of that. But otherwise, she was happy to supervise and watched the vet closely, ears pricked, curious, and if she could, attempting to investigate the vet’s tools.  If she’d been loose I’m sure she would have been Very Helpful.

After the other horse got his sheath cleaned (with cold water, to which he let us know he wasn’t happy but the owner had forgotten to bring a thermos of warm water and the heater in the barn died), it was Mocha’s turn.  As usual, she let us know what she thought of the sedation shot (not much.  She gets a nose chain for sedative shots because she pitches a little fit).  Once sedated, it was Dentist Time.

Equine dentistry can be a bit of a shock for the uninitiated to watch.  It involves long drill bits, a huge dental speculum, and a mechanism (with this vet, a large metal hoop that’s padded) to hold the horse’s head steady while it’s sedated and the vet is drilling.  Mocha’s cooperative through the process though she does roll her eye constantly.  Think of a teenaged girl’s eye roll just previous to saying “WhatEVER” and that’s Mocha’s commentary.  Cooperative but letting us know it’s an affront.

This time she experimented with leaning on the hoop.  Fortunately, those devices (another vet used a large leather halter) are strung over a thick 4 x 6 in the barn for just this reason.  She sagged a foreleg and the matching hindleg.  Can’t help but think that she reminded me of my attitude during the same sort of dental maintenance work!

She didn’t need much work, despite going two years between visits.  A few sharp hooks on her molars but nothing too bad, a little unevenness in her fronts. I like that.  I’ve known some mature horses who’ve had to receive pretty intensive dental work on an ongoing basis.  She’s an easy tooth keeper, at least so far.  Hopefully I’ll see some positive results on Monday when I ride her, perhaps a bit more flexibility without those hooks pushing on her cheeks.

And then the vaccinations.  She timed the sneezes from the intranasal strangles vaccination so that she could get the vet with it.  Then we escorted Miss Groggy back to her stall, where as usual she wanted to walk right up to the wall and lean her head for a moment.  I slipped off her halter and let her orient herself for a moment.  It doesn’t take a lot of sedative for her, at least not for teeth.  She requires a bit more for hock injections and it’s not because she’s getting fussy and kicking, it’s because she switches her tail, moves her legs, and it’s more to inspire her to stand quietly because it is a joint injection, after all.  Small space to hit and consequences if it’s not just right.

By the time I left she was sniffing around for food.  None in the stall, of course, so she wouldn’t choke (this vet is very particular about that).  She had to wait for an hour.

She had the weekend off.  Light work for the next two weeks (based on my schedule, not teeth), a further vaccine at that time, and then we’ll be into harder work until it’s time to go to Miscon.  So far there’s no sign that she needs a hock injection yet (knock on wood).    Seven months so far, I’m hoping to hold off until late August if possible.  We might do a reining show in the fall so that would be about the right timing.

And then again, maybe she won’t need another injection.  I do keep hoping for that.  That would be an ideal situation and maybe, just maybe, the way she’s been working we’ll be able to stave it off or not even need one.  That would be optimal…but, realistically, she appears to need an injection about every ten months.

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