Always look your gift horse in the mouth!

Well they say things happen in 3’s and that’s definitely the case here at GHE towers! Soap was on day 3 of his r and r as a result of his DIY face lift when Jack also managed to injure himself! Somehow Jack has cut the inside of his off hind, requiring 7 staples and a few days box rest. Box resting both of them next door to each other has kept them fairly calm, but I am sincerely glad that they are now both able to be turned out for the final part of their recovery because otherwise they would have gone stir crazy all cooped up with no exercise! So those were the first 2 things and here comes the third…

Dustry has been going really well and I had booked in to take him for a lesson with my instructor Amanda Brewer last weekend, but before his first ever trip out in the trailer he had a couple of farrier and dentist appointments to keep. James Clee EDT came to do Dustry’s teeth and he found more than we were bargaining for! On inspection of his mouth James found 2 ‘bone spurs’ (mandibular periostitis) on his upper jaw which would have to be removed! Until that moment I had never heard of ‘bone spurs’ or ever encountered a horse with them so wasn’t too sure what they were until James explained.

‘Bone spurs’ are caused by bit damage in the mouth especially common when horses are young, and their bones are still forming. Dustry’s ‘bone spurs’ were established indicating that they were caused at a young age, probably when he was still in racing. Bit/chiffney damage caused a small fracture in his upper jaw, and a little chip broke away. This chip then calcified back onto the jaw bone making a hard lump. Bones spurs if left untreated and the horse continually ridden in a bit/led in a chiffney will continue to be damaged and grow and grow, laying down more bone, getting more and more painful, and causing the horse to increasingly exhibit ‘naughty’ behaviour such as head tossing, and rearing in an attempt to get away from the pain. There’s a more detailed explanation of bone spurs that I found on the web here, and some pictures of the removal procedure.

James wasn’t able to carry out the procedure at our yard so referred me to his mentor Bob Livock and on Tuesday Dustry had his bone spurs removed. It wasn’t quite what I had planned as his first outing (I was thinking of something a bit more fun, and a lot less expensive!) but he loaded first time at both ends, was calm when we arrived, and behaved very well for Bob to carry out the procedure and rasp his teeth. He really is a little star and is even putting up with the after care which involves me washing out his mouth with salt water, which can’t be very pleasant! So he now has to have almost a month off before we can re-bit and see how he feels…

Although this discovery is not ideal as it has set us back a month it has brought to light a condition that I was completely unaware of until now. I watch Channel 4 racing with a different perspective now and can’t help but think when I see a horse unhappy in his head, and hollow going down to the start gate about the possibility that he may be suffering from the same thing. On the bright side the farrier came out after the dentist so Dustry just had his front shoes back on as he won’t be in work for a while, and that has saved me a little money which goes to help balance out what I have lost on entry fees this month!

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