Nov 17

Stella takes it in the teeth

Dr Evans floats StellaI thought I might go a week without a veterinary encounter of the third kind. Ha! Just as I was burrowing into the couch with crone-appropriate shawl over my shoulders and a big steaming bowl of jambalaya in my lap, my hateful iPhone chirped the news that it was time for Stella’s 6-month dental checkup.

As a world-renowned expert on equine dentition, you can take it from me that nothing good, wallet-wise, can come of looking a horse in the mouth. Horse teeth wear into razors over time, and they have to get filed down at least once a year lest the sharp edges ulcerate the tongue and cause demonic possession. Nice, right?

Luckily for my vet, Stella has horrible teeth. They’re all cracked and broken and unevenly worn. Some of’em grow, some of’em don’t. One was partially removed by a quack horse doctor and teeters just this side of “we have to extract it” at all times. So she gets the business every six months, poor kid.

I say “poor kid” because, like all things equine-related, floating horse teeth is a dreadful affair. I mean, imagine if you went to the dentist and they tied your head down, stuck a speculum in your gob, and came at you with a power drill. Without anesthesia.

Barbarism (and expense) in equine dentistry has progressed by orders of magnitude since I was a kid on the farm. Back then, we’d just stick a twitch on’em and the blacksmith (that’s what we called farriers back then) would run his rasp back and forth a few times, ten bucks, end of story. Nowadays, the DVM tools out in a German SUV chauffeured by his lovely assistant. They sedate the horse just to the tipping point (as in, if you poked her, she’d tip over). They stuff her head in a sling, and then pry open her jaw with a steel speculum. Out come the head lamps and borescopes and power tools. Grind, scrape, grind, scrape. Two hundred bucks.

On top of that, if the vet happens to be this one particular comedian who shall remain nameless, you have to endure him cracking wise the whole time. Which, painful as that is, is better than hearing him say, “Looks like she’s got infected pus-pockets and two molars are gonna have to come out.” Which is what he said when he looked young Pearl in the mouth last spring. That was a nasty shock from which I have yet to fully recover.

Happily, Stella survived the assault and will live to chomp another day.


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  1. ew_nc

    It’s really beginning to sink in now. Horse care and the bleeding of one’s bank account never ends.

    Think I’ll stick to my German Shepherds.

  2. Embee

    I totally identify with her expression. IBTP.

  3. Bushfire

    I’m glad I have budgies. Although someday they could need their beaks trimmed.

  4. Mary

    What the heck!!! Really? I had no idea.

    No one here uses a twitch. Back in our day it seemed the answer to all problems. Maybe PETA heard about it. Ha!

    I’ve introduced the legend of the Lonesome Cowboy to my 5 yr old riding class. TLC left them a note to come find him on our trail ride cuz he had something for them. 3 clues and hunting on horse back later we found a note from TLC with a pile of bandanas for each kid. It was a delightful success! Even my 2 high school girl helpers were all about it. There will be more LC sightings in the future!

    Please email me. I can’t remember all the LC stories!

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