Tooth and ... Ahem ... HOOVES

[Tooth and Nail]

What do teeth have to do with hooves? 

In essence, everything! 

How can that be, you ask? 

Well, this will be a short intro to the topic. I would encourage readers to pursue these thoughts that I'm about to present as it may make the difference between soundness and lameness for YOUR horse! 

Do you have a horse that switches leads constantly? Stumbles a lot? Won't balance itself well on the circle? Maybe even bucks or crow-hops when asked to canter? Or maybe your horse is just downright grumpy and refuses to move out well for you. Can't back up in balance. Hooves always grow imbalanced and 'off' no matter the expertise of the attending hoofcare provider. 

Or, maybe your horse is even a cribber! Or wood chewer!  Perhaps your horse lacks confidence or affection. 

These attitudes and issues, and even more, can be caused from the mouth ... from Temporomandibular Dysfunction.

What, exactly, IS Temporomandibular Dysfunction?  Well, simply put, its the imbalance of the Temporomandibular Joint or, TMJ. The overall health balance of the TMJ is vital to the WHOLE horse ... affecting not only the ability to chew and digest food properly but, also, it affects the body's balance and biomechanics.  This all includes the hooves. 

If the body isn't moving correctly then the hooves are not going to wear in a balanced manner which comes around to affect the overall movement of the horse creating a circular situation.  Round and round and round. A never ending cycle of misfunctions. 

Tomas Tesky, DVM, started noting that when he saw a skewed angle of the front teeth of a horse that it corresponded exactly to the balance of their front hooves.

Rhiannon Fenton, D.V.M., C.A.C., C.V.A., C.V.F.T states, 

"First, one must understand that every tooth is the ending of a nerve. Teeth serve as guidance for neurological function, body mass, motion, and eating. Each tooth opposes another tooth either above or below it and creates a synaptic connection similar to a spark plug. Teeth-touching creates nerve impulses and transmission of signals through various acupuncture meridians within the body that direct organ function, sensory apparatus, and proprioception (balance and awareness of body movements statically and dynamically). When teeth do not touch each other properly, the transmission of such information does not occur."

Spencer LaFlure, Natural Balance Dentistry, notes that

"Natural balance in the mouth and the jaw’s ability to move forward, backward, left and right, up and down, is equal to the whole body’s ability to do the same. The jaw’s range of motion dictates the neck’s range of motion, which in turn dictates muscle mass in the rest of the body."

and also stated in his thesis (copies available (518) 623-9967)  that

"whole horse restoration could be accomplished by whole mouth equilibration." 

Notice that he used the words WHOLE HORSE RESTORATION ... that includes the hooves. 

The following observations would be helped with Natural Balance Dentistry: 

  • asymmetrical gait
  •  high/low heels and shoulders
  •  irreparable hoof issues
  •  joint damage/pain
  •  tendon and ligament tears
  •  muscle soreness, atrophy or hypertrophy
  •  chiropractic adjustments not sticking
  •  not tracking straight or tight-rope walking
  •  inability to pick up leads easily, flex, extend, or engage hind end
  •  lugging on one rein
  •  poll pain, lack of flexion, or extension at the poll
  •  organ dysfunction (i.e. colic, liver, or kidney issues)
  • weight loss or gain
  •  excessive eye drainage or tears
  •  and the list goes on...

So if you have a horse that has irreparable hoof issues, or, any of the other issues mentioned, then it might be befitting to have the mouth and teeth looked at by a Natural Balance Dentist. 

Especially if you are transitioning from shoes to barefoot. This is a pertinent topic to explore that could absolutely help your transitioning go a bit easier for both you and your horse.



Gwenyth Browning Jones Santagate is the best-selling author of 10 Secrets to Healthy Hooves as well as a noted author for various international equine publications including The Horses Hoof, Equine Wellness, Natural Horse Planet as well as a contributing author for the 2001 United States Federal Mounted Border Patrol Training Manual. For the last 37+ years, she has maintained healthy hooves with natural trimming on thousands of horses and specialized in pathological rehabilitation hoofcare for the last 20 years. She and her husband John keep a small herd of their own equine in SW Florida and continue to offer consults for horses in need. You can email to Gwen -- or telephone in the US (23)-573-9687. For further information please click here: 

LIVE, ONLINE COURSE on NATURAL HOOFCARE 101 with Gwenyth Santagate begins Sept. 13, 2017. For more information and to register (limited reserved spots) go here:





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