A teenage warmblood gelding developed a skewed incisor bite or “wedge,” with preferential jaw movement to his left side after 2 years of rehabilitating from a right front suspensory ligament injury. The left photo was taken before adjustments. After spending significant time weighting his left front, his center of balance shifted to the left. Greater tone in muscle and fascia on one side contributes to head and jaw movements to that side. A skewed incisor bite will worsen in a cycle of body imbalance, preferences, tension, and pain and disability in the temporomandibular joints (TMJs), head and neck. This ultimately affects posture and performance. The right photo was taken after adjustments and shows about 80% improvement in the incisor plane and jaw position.

Are Equine Hoof Wear and Teeth Linked?

Opinions vary about whether a correlation exists between dentistry and hoof balance

Is there a connection between equine tooth alignment and hoof balance? Less than 2 decades ago, discussions surrounding the possibility emerged. Opinions on the topic are mixed. 

California-based veterinarian David Ramey sees no relationship between dental problems and hoof wear.

“For most horses that are kept reasonably well, the occasional interventions that are needed don’t make any obvious day-to-day difference,” he says. “In extreme situations, a horse with an infected tooth or a horse with overgrown feet, interventions can make a big difference in movement, ease of eating, etc.”

Tomas Teskey, an Arizona veterinarian and hoof trimmer, believes there is a correlation between the hoof and dental problems and balance. About 10 years ago, Teskey observed a pattern in a horse’s dental and foot balance while working on a set of nine or 10 horses on the same day.

“I was correcting incisor balance in a side-to-side manner that correlated exactly with each horse’s soundness,” he recalls. “Every horse had a dental balance in a certain direction, and their feet and front legs also had a side-to-side difference. That included horses that had one heel higher than the other horses that were slightly lame on one front vs. the other foot. And the horses that had a habit of standing or posturing themselves in a certain way.”

Dr. Ramey and Dr. Teskey share their perspectives about the connection between tooth alignment and hoof balance.

The Background

When correlation in horse care emerges, farriers, veterinarians and other care providers want information…

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Katie navarra

Katie Navarra

Katie Navarra is a freelance writer who draws from her experiences owning and showing horses, and inter­viewing the industry’s leading pro­fessionals.

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