The day I learned my horse Knight’s puppy-like chewing behaviors were because of EOTRH, I posted in the Facebook group OTTB Connect to see what other equestrians who have faced this dental diagnosis had to say. I had never heard of EOTRH before and I wanted to discover what other horse owners have experienced. The Facebook group input encouraged me and now I want to share the collective wisdom from fellow owners with you.
My Facebook question:
“Had my horse scoped for ulcers (he does have a mild/moderate case) and came away with a diagnosis of EOTRH. I had never heard of this tooth/gum disease before. Anyone in this group had experiences with their TBs and EOTRH? Apparently it’s usually found in much older horses. My guy is 10.”
Not Just Long in the Tooth
Within minutes I had fellow horse lovers from around the country responding with their own stories. One woman with a 21-year old Thoroughbred who was diagnosed said she just knew something was wrong when her horse’s lower lip kept hanging loosely. She said her horse had a floppy lower lip before, but something seemed different to her and his teeth seemed really long.
Over the course of a few years she had several vets and equine dentists look at her horse every six months and tell her that everything was normal for an aging horse. He was just “long in the tooth.”
Finally an equine dentist realized that the horse’s upper teeth were so long they were pressing his lower jaw down. The horse’s bottom teeth were becoming impacted from the pressure.
The owner surmises that if she brushed off her concern and listened to the people who were telling her that it was nothing, that her horse might have eventually suffered an infection in the jaw, and she quite possibly might have lost him.
Two with Tooth Problems
Another woman chimed in saying she has two horses with the condition. Her gelding who is now 11 developed this at 8 or 9. She said it looked like her horse was about to lose his baby teeth again, only they were his adult teeth. He’s a cribber, so his teeth looked normal for him.
Her older horse developed EOTRH around age 20. At this point he has only one or two incisors left. She said they are just nubs from them cracking and coming out, but it hasn’t affected him at all.
This owner has her horses’ teeth checked regularly to make sure the alignment is okay. She said that sometimes EOTRH can mess up their molars if the incisors are off. I was happy to hear that her bits and bridles all stayed the same. Both of her horses go in snaffles or Mullen mouth bits with a figure 8 and they have no issues.
She even tagged her veterinarian within the post to get her input. The vet stated this is “very common in geriatrics.” She also said it is displayed in incisors and sometimes canine teeth.
A Vet Student’s Perspective
Speaking of vets, someone who is currently in vet school also commented. She had just studied EOTRH in her large animal surgery course. According to her the teeth resorb from the root up and eventually need to be removed because it is very painful. Initially you can have the teeth floated, but over time they will lose the gum line and the teeth start to move.
Since I didn’t know what resorb meant, I looked it up on several dictionary sites. The gist of the definition is to break down and lose substance.
I asked this student if she knew if there were any particular breeds that this condition was common in and her response was “Thoroughbreds.” (Bummer!)
On the bright side she said that EOTRH won’t affect what a horse eats as they chew with their cheek teeth. She said they do look silly when their teeth are gone and their tongue can hang out. She also said to watch out for dropped feed and weight loss as it becomes more painful in time. Those symptoms might be indicators it’s time to remove the teeth.
A Tooth Extraction Video
The goriest feedback was an owner of a horse who had to have one of its teeth removed. She posted two videos of the removal. I don’t want to watch it again because of the blood, but I think the vet said, “Easiest tooth extraction ever!” as it basically fell out with a little tug.
If you want to see the video you just have to join the OTTB Connect Facebook group and you can search for my name and the post will come up.
The good news on this particular horse is that the owner said he still eats grass and hay “like a champ.”
On that note, another woman added that she’s had three horses with EOTRH and they were still able to graze with no problem even though their incisors had all been pulled!
Friends Who’ve Dealt with EOTRH in Their Horses
And much to my surprise, two people I actually know in person (both in Illinois) have had horses with the condition. Amy said she would have her horse get regular dental exams and described it as “not awful, but manageable.”
Sarah, who blogs over at Collecting Thoroughbreds, has a horse Jag who was diagnosed at 18. She said her vet had no explanation or remedy. Now Jag only has three teeth in front, but since he still has his molars, he has no problem chewing food and still grazes. “He’s healthy and dappled, but he does look totally goofy when he yawns!”
Sarah added that Jag only seems uncomfortable when a tooth is loose, otherwise, she doesn’t see any discomfort.
After Googling EOTRH and seeing horrific pictures of very sad teeth in horses, it was a welcome relief to gain the perspectives of fellow horse owners who’ve dealt with the disease.
Now my biggest concern on the EOTRH front is why UPS shipped my meds to Kentucky when Knight and I live in California. He is supposed to start a 30 day treatment of doxycyline twice a day which will most likely really help him experience relief.
Thank you for reading and following along our horse health journey. Next up, we’re trying to deduce what is causing Knight to have ulcers again. Is it possible his teeth hurting made him worry? If only he could talk–it would be so much easier.
Have a great day and happy riding!