Tuesdays with Tony

You know I occasionally climb up on my soapbox on really, really important issues that horses and their humans face. Today is one of  those days. Let’s talk about people doing procedures on horses they shouldn’t be doing. I’m mostly talking about floating teeth, spinal adjustments, and acupuncture. These procedures should only be done by veterinarians. There, you have the short version. Now let’s talk about why it is imperative for your horse’s health, and good for your wallet, to have these procedures done by Doctors.

Bright lights, a Speculum, and Sedation

Let’s pretend for a moment that you’re a horse. This means you have a really, really long oral cavity, with a relatively tiny mouth. When I yawn, you can see everything. When your horse yawns next time, take a good look. You can’t see a darn thing in the back. My Docs manage this by giving a little bit of sedation, placing a full-mouth speculum to hold your horse’s mouth open, then put on a bright light to see all.the.way.to.the.back. I’m going to warn you that if I hear “My horse doesn’t need sedation to have their teeth done,” someone may feel my claws. That’s like saying you don’t need novocaine when the dentist does a root canal on you. 

If your horse isn’t sedated, they will chew and gnash on the speculum with all the might they’ve got, not to mention wiggle their tongue around everywhere. This leads to very sore TMJs, and can lead to injury when the tongue gets in the way. If you aren’t a veterinarian, it is illegal for you to administer sedation. This would be like letting the produce manager at the grocery store anesthetize you for surgery. And what are they going to do if something goes wrong? Never let anyone who isn’t a veterinarian administer sedation to your horse. There are a hundred things that can go wrong, and only one thing that can go right. Don’t risk it! 

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Too Much, Too Little, Just Right

Teeth are persnickety when it comes to floating them just right. I see all kinds of mumbo jumbo about making the left side and right side exactly even, getting the incisors to line up perfectly, and even evaluating the angle of the TMJ to determine how much tooth to take off. If you hear these things, you are talking to a snake oil sales-human. Run the other way, and do NOT hand your horse over to this person. You see, horses will never be symmetrical right to left, just like you aren’t. Heck, even cats aren’t, and we’re practically perfect. Attempting to make your horse symmetrical from side to side will result in way too much tooth being removed. This can do horrible things to a mouth, including cause teeth to die, create infections, and cause extreme pain. This is one of my 8,322,498 reasons why you need someone who understands all the veterinary things. Seriously, do you want the tire store people doing work on your teeth? No, you want someone who knows all the important medical things so they don’t cause horrible things to happen. 

Saving You Money

The #1 complaint I hear about dental work: the cost! Know what costs untold amounts of money? A badly done dental float. One that doesn’t involve a light, sedation, and a speculum. Important things in the back of the mouth can be missed. Imagine a sharp point from the top tooth in the back growing so long it pokes into the lower jaw. My Docs saw this recently on a horse who had been receiving “dental work” every 6 months. This person had spent thousands of dollars over this horse’s lifetime trying to make sure they were doing the right thing. Who knows how many classes were lost, bad rides happened, and pain this horse suffered. 

Good dental care from my Docs is money well spent. Overall, it would have been far cheaper, and far better for this poor horse and human. Complete soap box moment: This is ALWAYS true. I see people spend all kinds of money trying to avoid calling my Docs. If they had only called us first, even for a conversation, they would have saved so, so much money. In some cases they would have saved their horse’s life, or extended it by several years. I know this sounds cat dramatic, and I wish I could say it was. However, this is a weekly occurrence around here. 

Horses are expensive. There’s no two ways about it. But think about this: a Wellness Plan from Springhill Equine provides a dental float and all the vaccines your horse needs for a year for about $500, which you can make monthly payments on. When you look at what you spend on your horse in a year, this is actually one of the lowest costs you have. It’s cheaper than your feed and hay, your farrier costs, your trainer, fuel in your truck, all of it. Getting rid of those unnecessary supplements will more than cover the cost of real medical care. And our Wellness clients don’t pay an emergency fee if something bad happens! This is the smartest way to spend your healthcare money. Trust me. I’m a cat.

Until next week,



P.S. Check out all the details of our Wellness Plans on our Wellness Page. And then go listen to the Supplements episode of our podcast to learn why you’re throwing your money away with most of them! You’re welcome. 


Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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