Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"a few days off"

Something is bothering Lucy. She has been weird about anyone touching her mouth, accepting the bit, and she has not liked any pressure on her mouth from the bit. A few nights ago she was being a bit "looky" in the ring when I was trying to get on, so someone offered to hold her for me. As I mounted up, the person pulled down just slightly on the reins. Lucy reacted by violently throwing her head in the air and smacking me square in the nose. I was shocked but it was over as quickly as it began, and the ride went on without any further incident.

Then last night, she was very weird about half-halts. Constant (light) pressure on the bit was ok but when I asked for a half-halt, she flipped her head and got upset. Once again, though, it was over as quickly as it began and she was really good for the rest of the ride, though I was careful to ride off my seat even more than usual so I didn't need to do a lot with her face.

Lauren confirmed that Lucy was also weird about her mouth today, so I decided to call Lucy's dentist, thinking something must be bothering her in her mouth. The dentist spoke to me and as I listed off all of the symptoms, he listened intently. He didn't think it sounded like a tooth issue, because Lucy is eating fine (even hay). He said horses sometimes bite their tongues and maybe she had done that. The solution was to give her a few days off to let anything heal that the bit may be interfering with. Lauren and I decided to give her until Sunday as a little vacation, and if on Sunday she is still exhibiting the same symptoms, the dentist will come and look at her next week.

If this were interfering with her ability to eat properly, I'd call the vet, but I really trust this dentist's judgement and hopefully there is nothing bigger brewing! If she gets worse even with the time off, or starts to not eat normally, I will call the vet.

I don't have very much experience with mouth issues - does anyone have any ideas as to what the issue could be? She doesn't seem sensitive around her cheeks or under her jaw, so I do not think it's an abscess.


  1. Has she had her wolf teeth out? Try pressing gently on the gums just in front of her molars.

  2. Will she let you look in her mouth? Any sores or cuts? Maybe something is pinching/hurting her? (I am sure you already checked these things haha)

    Hope you can get it sorted out!

  3. My instinct says that such a violent reactions means there is some sort of sharp pain going on. Is the bit pinching? She may have bit her tongue or side of her mouth. Wolf teeth? Or perhaps an impacted molar? Is there foxtail in the hay? This can cause nasty mouth sores. Might not be mouth related, maybe a sore back? Ah horses, always keeping us on our toes.

  4. Bummer! Hope Lucy is a-ok soon.

  5. How old is Lucy again? I agree that it doesn't sound like a vet emergency however I'm going to have to disagree with your dentist saying it can't be a tooth issue if she's eating fine since I've seen horses with HORRIFIC teeth who ate "fine".

    I agree with Karen that it sounds like some sort of sharp pain. It could be anything from her biting her tongue to getting a plant particle lodged under her gums to an abscessed tooth root. Also I'm sure you guys thought of this, but have you run your hands over her bit to make sure there aren't any sharp parts? Warm it up properly in the cold? Does she have any other swelling around her head?

    She might let you look in her mouth with a flash light if you VERY CAREFULLY reach in the side of her mouth in the gap between her incisors and her molars and grab her tongue to pull it out the side. Be really super careful if you try that though, especially if she is painful.

    My only other thought is that perhaps this is a behavioral issue. Maybe she has ulcers again (the stress of moving barns could do it) and this is how she is responding to not wanting to work? Does she seem as fussy and sore about her mouth on the ground?

    I hope it ends up being no big deal! Poor Lucy, you guys need to catch a break.

  6. I like your current plan--a few days off, then the dentist. It definitely sounds like a mouth issue, so hopefully even if time off doesn't fix it, the dentist can figure it out.

  7. Hopefully she is better soon. If a couple days off don't help, then I would get the dentist out. Sometimes they'll keep eating because food is pretty important!

  8. Could it be an abcess in her mouth?

    If you stand in front of her, and press on the temple area, right behind the eye, you can tell if she is in pain there if she moves away from the pressure. Watch you don't get hit in the face again though!

    You can also press right where the molars begin on the top jaw (from the outside of her mouth) and see if there is a reaction there.


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