You know how the movies that get scheduled for release nearest the Oscars always do well in the voting? That is how I think this Greatest Tip About Horses in 2010 is. I learned it from my veterinarian in December. Honestly, I can’t even remember the great things I learned in November, let alone any month between then and January 2010.
This answers a question that has been on my mind for years, yet had been answered many times in various ways. This is simply the best answer. It came out during a lull in the vet’s visit when the chatting is relaxed. My vet visits us along with the equine dentist once a year to give a ‘cocktail’ to one of the horses. That is all she has to do and she is great and careful about it. Fortunately, Maryland law allows for this arrangement. So, the subject of teeth was an obvious one.
I wondered aloud for the the umpteenth time, what causes the teeth to get so out of whack. Well, I might have said what causes the hooks to form, or changes their grinding surface, or been more specific, but it is her answer that I am so glad to get. I allowed how I had gone off of a sweet feed blend and back to awesome, cleaned, steam crimped plump oats. I had come to believe it is the feed itself that effects the teeth changes. I was asking her specifically about the hay. Does a first cutting timothy, for example, that is coarser and more fibery make a difference than say a softer second cutting orchard grass, or third cutting with soft alfalfa in the mix? That’s not it, she says as she eyes my rather low hanging hay nets. Then she remarked that as I had older horses I was able to hang the nets that low. She didn’t elaborate but I concur. My horses are sensible and completely safe around the net below my waist nearer to their feet. (A huge consideration, so be absolutely certain.) I replied that in the really cold and windy conditions, it was a really cold and windy day, we were all being very tough, I liked to hang them low, as that appeared to be their preference.
That led to discussing the issue I have with hay on the ground or on the floor, being that of: parasites. I am so much of an anti-parasites person I fork out every little piece of manure twice a day, sure that there is an unfriendly organism hoping to get picked back up lurking within. She reviewed my deworming program and fecal monitoring, giving me more peace of mind about their eating off the floor.
That is it. Keeping horses heads low when they graze and grain helps to keep their teeth in correct grinding surface alignment. I love knowing this. The horses grain goes into tubs placed on the floor for each meal, and their hay nets are staying low (because it is safe for mine) and I am not worried about grazing from the floor any more. I am still forking out all manner of manure, but going less crazy when I find they’ve grazed the wasted hay out of the muck bucket I have parked along their path and not yet emptied.