A session with an equine dentist is about more than floating teeth. Your horse’s entire body may be impacted. Incorrect movement of the mouth leads to incorrect movement of the whole body, making it difficult for your horse to perform. Routine dental work (sedation, vibration from hand and power tools, the position of the horse’s head, and use of the speculum) can cause stress on your horse. You can help ease that stress with alternative approaches. Some require the expertise of certified practitioners; others you can do yourself.
CHIROPRACTIC ... to maintain motion
Motion is life! Correct motion in the horse requires every joint to be moving smoothly and painlessly, which is why chiropractic care works so well. Biomechanics of the teeth, jaw and mouth are important in establishing balance in the body through complex neuromuscular and proprioceptive input. If these responses that ultimately affect movement are out of balance, then compensatory changes will follow. These changes can lead to problems associated with posture, muscle mass, bony changes, and even hoof shape. Incorrect posture as a result of dentition will cause a horse to experience chronic fatigue.
Dentistry isn’t about taking the most tooth off with a tool. Correct dentistry is about rebalancing the mouth and allowing the joints in the jaw to move properly while chewing. Removing too much tooth may cause the tooth to die prematurely. Adversely changing angles on any tooth or not addressing the incisors (which erupt at the same rate as the molars) can be detrimental to the movement of the jaw. Chiropractic care helps maintain normal movement.
-- Bill Ormston, DVM, www.jubileeac.com
CRANIOSACRAL ... to restore balance
Craniosacral therapy is gentle hands-on bodywork which restores balance to the horse’s natural body rhythms. A practitioner will tune into the craniosacral rhythm and determine if any restrictions are occurring. The energetic flow is similar to ocean waves; each bone has a slight motion when in proper balance which can be displaced with injury or trauma. Once the restriction locations have been identified, the practitioner places her hands on the horse’s body and palpates the energetic flow to release the restriction, injury, or trauma, and to restore motion, rhythm and balance.
William Sutherland (1873-1954) discovered cranial bones are jointed and not fused together. He also found the sacrum moves in synch with the cranial bones, hence the craniosacral rhythm, which he called “the breath of life.” In horses, this rhythm moves between six and eight cycles per minute. By restoring balance to the craniosacral rhythm horses can be relived of headaches, TMJ pain, sinus problems, tearing eyes, faulty nerve function and much more. Therapy sessions typically last 60-90 minutes and are very individualized to the horse. It is recommended the horse have two days off from work after the sessions to allow the work to integrate properly into the body. The number of sessions required will be specific to the horse and dependent on the severity of the condition.
-- Kim Baker, www.kbnaturalhorsemanship.com
ESSENTIAL OILS ... for oral abscesses
An abscess in the mouth is one condition where you want your horse to select the Essential Oil remedy. Oral application of essential oils will not work and can be toxic to your horse is he is not attracted to the scent. Essential oils such as tea tree, bergamot or calendula are generally accepted. Offer the opened bottle of each to the horse, and see which one receives the most attention.
Because a horse's needs can change as healing occurs, maintain the horse's normal water supply, and add to a secondary water container 6 to 15 drops of your selected essential oil. If the horse needs the essential oil, he will drink the dilution. If he doesn't, it’s time to change the selection. Freshen your essential oils every two to three days.
If your horse does not select an essential oil or want to drink from the container, do not be perturbed; you need to select a different therapy. Tea made from dried herbs added to drinking water may be more applicable, or a gentle flush with a needle-less syringe of calendula or marigold flower tea.
-- Catherine Bird, www.hartingdale.com.au/~happyhorses
ACUPRESSURE ... for jaw injury
The lower jawbone, or mandible, is the strongest bone in the horse’s body. It is a dense, powerful bone that is connected to the skull at the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) under the zygomatic arch which forms the horse’s cheek. The upper jawbone, the maxillary bone, is not as strong as its lower counterpart.
Your horse’s wellbeing is entirely dependent on the health of his jaw. Any injury to the jaw or the jaw’s inability to function properly could be life-threatening since it could interfere with the horse’s capacity to eat sufficiently to sustain health. Not being able to graze could also have serious consequences.
Enhancing the flow of blood and chi provides the necessary nutrients to the bone, teeth, and soft tissues to build healthy cells more efficiently and effectively. Another benefit of increasing the blood and chi flow is that toxins produced during the healing process are removed more readily, thus creating a healthier environment for healing.
Releasing specific acupoints on your horse may prevent or reduce jaw pain, bringing more blood and chi to the horse’s jaw.
TH 17 is beneath and behind the base of the ear
TH 23 is near the outside edge and above the eye
LI 4 is on the inside of the foreleg below the head of the splint bone
LI 20 can be found about 1 inch outside the nostril, toward the upper 1/3 of the opening
-- Amy Snow and Nancy Zidonis, www.animalacupressure.com
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