So for some background: last spring Copper dropped some serious weight. Unfortunately, I was in the depths of a personal crisis and didn’t really realize how much weight Copper had lost. At that point, he didn’t look terrible, just like he didn’t have much muscle. So I started him on grain and then sent him to the trainer in the summer. He was still for sale, due to his previous wild horse bucking issues not clicking so well with my need for a timid-rider-friendly-confidence-builder-type horse. Of course, when Copper entered regular work, he dropped more weight, but he didn’t start to gain muscle like expected. My trainer was feeding him tons, but nothing was happening, except for that my previously wild pony was turning into a seasoned adult riding partner.
Due to this change in temperament, I decided that he was no longer for sale. My trainer wanted to start him in a curb bit soon (yayyyyy for western pleasure expectations…), but had felt Copper’s teeth and didn’t want to do it until he’d had some dental work. So that was one of my assignments for over the winter while he was home.
I called and scheduled the appointment in February. I wanted to wait until after the busy-ness of Christmas had dissipated and January slipped by before I knew it. Copper had gained weight at home since he wasn’t really in work anymore, so I didn’t think of his teeth as enemy number one. He was just a hard keeper. February brought us sub zero temperatures and ridiculous amounts of snow, so our appointment was rescheduled for 3/8.
L, the horse dentist, showed up on time with her husband, B. He is her “holder.” This was novel to me, because I’d never had someone come along with a farrier, vet, etc. to hold my horse for the skilled person. Of course, after the appointment, I realized that B is a skilled person as well! He held up 16 hands of staggering Copper and kept him positioned so that L could see Copper’s teeth perfectly.
I had forewarned L that Copper is a diva about needles and would try his best to hop away from her if he knew what was coming, so she decided to outsmart him. She gave me some sedative to shoot onto his tongue (think dewormer application) to chill him out prior to the real sedative. So they waited out by the truck while I gave him the first round of drugs. I would say this made Copper the equivalent of someone who’d had a couple of glasses of wine. He was pretty steady on his feet, moving his ears to sounds, but not the least bit concerned that strangers were arranging bizarre equipment around him. If I could have asked him his opinion on things, he would’ve said “it’s all good.”
Once L was set up, she swapped his rope halter for a pleather looking one and handed him to her husband to hold while he was sedated him. We couldn’t get a good feel on his vein on his left, so we moved to his off side and found a better one. We really took our time to make sure that we got him the first time since he is so needle shy. He stood perfectly still for the injection and was sleepy Copper in no time.
Before the sedation, L listened to him chewing and remarked that all of the work was in the front of his mouth, which didn’t make sense to me then. Once she floated his molars, she took the dental halter off and inserted a different device to hold his mouth open so she’d have access to his incisors. She then explained that his front teeth were so long that his molars weren’t even touching when his mouth was shut. She then told me that his teeth were 100% the reason that he’d been hard to keep weight on, and to expect that he would need yearly dental work.
Obviously I feel really guilty for not having his teeth done earlier, but Copper has had a history of being a hard keeper for most of his young life, so I just worried that this was just him. Needless to say, I’m very relieved that with some regular dental work, he should be able to keep his weight easier in the future.
Before they left, L and B got to meet Emma and Chloe (of course). L was in love, and was already begging B for donkeys. They’re pretty easy to love, but can be annoying sometimes. I told her that she could borrow mine for a few months and that I was sure she’d return them.
For instance, Emma backed her butt against mine while I was grooming Copper prior to their arrival. Maybe offering herself as a chair? Such a helpful and considerate donk.