The Horse Forum banner
Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
244 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have known my TB for 11 years now, and he has always ground his teeth. When he was straight off the track, he would do it just sitting in his paddock (he doesn't do that anymore). He was used as a lesson horse for a long time and, as far as I know (based off watching other lessons and other people ride him), always ground his teeth. He just recently became mine, and as a result I have been the only one mainly riding him for about the past 9 months. He has had his teeth done regularly, and the vet has said everything looks normal (although in March we are using a different vet so maybe he will have different insights, who knows).

Anyways, I have noticed the teeth grinding not happening as frequently as it used to, but it still happening. He doesn't do it on the flat as much anymore, unless I am trying to teach him something new (like lead changes). He also does it when we jump. Is it possible that I am being too heavy handed? Absolutely. BUT he does it with my trainer as well too. I let my BO ride him today in a dressage lesson (she is much more talented at dressage than I am) and she said he did not grind his teeth, but that they were on very light contact the whole time. I have had the massage lady out and he has gotten chiropractic and acupuncture work (although he is overdue currently), but each of them have told me that he isn't in any severe pain. He gets a little stiff, but nothing out of the ordinary (he is 14).

I am basically at my witts end and I'm not sure what to do anymore. Is it a habit at this point? Should I try playing around with different bits? Should I try another chiro and see what they think? I'm just curious if anybody else has dealt with this problem...I want to make sure I am not making my horse uncomfortable :-/. My trainer says it is probably habit at this point, but I want to explore all options before I decide to just chalk it up to habit.

Also, I don't believe it to be saddle fit - I worked with a very knowledgeable friend and finally found a saddle that fits him with a corrective pad.

I would appreciate any and all advice :)

EDIT: I am posting this in the dressage thread in hopes that maybe there are different supping exercises that I can do to help him relax and soften his jaw IF it turns out this is a habit. He doesn't really get NERVOUS, but I feel if maybe he was a little bit more relaxed and/or soft, maybe teeth grinding wouldn't be such an issue?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
165 Posts
I have a young filly (not broken in or started bit work yet) who grinds her teeth if she's uncomfortable, nervous or frustrated with a situation. She usually does it if I've asked her to do something she doesn't understand or is only just learning. For her it's psychological triggers for grinding her teeth, maybe it's the same for your boy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17,293 Posts
My now-deceased gelding did this to show his displeasure which meant I'd asked too much. I'd have to break it down into little segments and one day he'd assemble them and after that he a whiz at it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
244 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I think it is probably a combination of confusion and frustration - you want me to do a turn on the WHAT?! I just wish I could figure out how to convey clearly enough to him what I want him to do so he doesn't feel frustrated with me. BUT it makes me feel better that he does it with my trainer, who is very experienced, too.

Tiny: I have also heard it is associated with ulcers, but I cant imagine why he would have ulcers. I know ulcers are associated with stress and he doesn't really get "Stressed" at much. For example, I moved him two hours a way from home (where he had lived for 10 years), and the morning after I moved him I rode in the arena by myself and he couldn't have cared less. When we took him to his first event, he was cool as a cucumber! I guess it wouldn't hurt (except to the checkbook!!!!) to have him scoped for ulcers. Although I have heard now there is a new procedure, that is fairly inexpensive, where they look at the horses fecal matter and analyze it?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,184 Posts
Does he have mismatched front feet?
Do you know how to check for a parietal shear?
Do you know hyoid stretches/releases?
Are his shoulders very different in development?

Yes, the grinding may be habit, but to me it points to an imbalance and some unresolved TMJ issues. Talk to your RMT or osteopath about some hyoid releases and get him/her to check for a parietal shear as these are things commonly associated with severe TMJ. As well see if you can "grab" the tissue on the bottom of the neck on either side of the neck (the neck that leads right out of the point of the shoulder) - is there a big reaction? And do some testing between the vertebrae.

JMO I would look for a very experienced body worker who does myofascial release and possibly also look into acupuncture to try and get some of the emotional side of this issue released. As that is what it is - an imbalance and pain leading to an emotional response (teeth grinding).

For the training - MOST and I mean literally 98% of riders you come across, riders pull too much. This can really aggravate TMJ and teeth grinding. Really work on your riding to be able to ride with no hand at all.

Finally, Gumbits may be another aid to at least help you manage the grinding noise and feel - especially in competition.

Good luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
244 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Anabel: Is they hyoid release where the chiropractor takes the horses tongue out of their mouth and holds it while the horse pulls it back and forth? I interned at a vet clinic over the summer and saw that done on a bunch of different horses. When the massage therapist came out to the barn last she didn't do that on my guy but I can ask her specifically about that next time she comes out.

I am currently looking for a chiropractor/acupuncturist in my area. The place I interned had a GREAT vet who specialized in sports medicine and did both, but I can't seem to find anybody down here that does both yet. If I can't find one that does both soon I think I'll just get the chiropractor out first - I think he could use an adjustment anyways. Now that I think about it, I feel like I could use an adjustment, but horses come first! :)

Me....pull too much? No way! ;) In all likely hood that could be a possibility too ... I just need to think about having much softer hands.

Today I gave him a bath and he was grinding his teeth the whole time. I think it THAT was because he usually gets his grain after I ride, but today he had to wait an extra 30 minutes....oh, no!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,184 Posts
JMO, I am not a big fan of chiropractic. I have seen it do much more harm than good. The soft tissue of the body is what holds it in place and moves it. The skeleton is simply frame work. Forcibly adjusting the skeleton with no regard to pathologies in the soft tissue is a great way to damage it and heighten inflammation.
As well there is no way a little 150lb person is going to do nearly anything to an equine skeleton except where it is very vulnerable and can easily be damaged. A friend of mine had a chiro work on her healthy older horse and he went from the day before schooling all of the GP to the next day having sever neuro symptoms and almost having to be put down. He can no longer be ridden.

I am a big fan of safe and healthy alternative treatments. Any chiro that will put a hand on the horse without full rads of the area is a crook and a criminal IMO.
Massage therapy, myofascial release and acupuncture are all far safer and JMO far more beneficial to the horse in the long term, and in developing and maintaining healthy muscle and soft tissues.

However, it is your choice.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,323 Posts
I have also heard it is associated with ulcers, but I cant imagine why he would have ulcers. I know ulcers are associated with stress and he doesn't really get "Stressed" at much.
Just food for thought, but just because he doesn't "act" stressed doesn't mean he's not feeling it. There's a study that got published recently that found that for body clipping, horses that stood quietly and "accepted" the body clipping had just as high a stress response (evaluated by rise in heart rate, salivary cortisol, and eye temperature) as horses that were noncompliant.

So even if he seems laid back at shows (mine is the same way!) it's quite possible that he's still getting the same physical responses of a horse that expresses the stress more and is at the same risk of ulcers.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,184 Posts
Just food for thought, but just because he doesn't "act" stressed doesn't mean he's not feeling it. There's a study that got published recently that found that for body clipping, horses that stood quietly and "accepted" the body clipping had just as high a stress response (evaluated by rise in heart rate, salivary cortisol, and eye temperature) as horses that were noncompliant.

So even if he seems laid back at shows (mine is the same way!) it's quite possible that he's still getting the same physical responses of a horse that expresses the stress more and is at the same risk of ulcers.
This.

Stoic horses tend to store their stress in their body. My big horse is (or I should say was) quite stoic about everything - not much got him riled up. He had fairly severe TMJ disorder by the time I got him to a body worker and was extremely uneven side to side. Had I left him, he likely would have become a teeth grinder. NOW he has opinions on everything and is very open with his emotions, and he has no TMJ disorder, but still needs consistent work with myofascial release and massage to keep him that way. In contrast, another horse I am riding who is very high stress - on high alert all the time, spooky, tense in the riding upon introduction of new concepts, even his first massage he was tense and flighty, has absolutely no disorder in his body tissue because he is emotional and expels his stress.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Sirius

·
Administrator
Joined
·
36,324 Posts
It is associated with ulcers so might be worth treating for them - but I think its a bit like other things that begin as stress related but then become a habit that's really hard to break
Our Clyde X grinds her teeth in the stable when she has a horse next door to her that for some reason she finds annoying and would like to attack but can't reach - so I put the behavior down to frustration and irritability - which might be correct for your horse if it happens when you increase the training pressure above what he wants to be his comfort zone
I wonder if a Grakle noseband might help? They were designed to work on horses that crossed their jaws (originally for the racehorse called Grakle) which is a similar action to the one used to grind their teeth
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
244 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I'm having the vet out to get his teeth done soon, so maybe I can ask about scheduling an appointment for checking for ulcers then.

The thing is - I really don't think he has ulcers. It is getting to the point where he just does it when he is annoyed. Today we had a group lesson and the rest of the horses left, but I wanted to stay in the arena and do more work (he hadn't even cracked a sweat), and as soon as he saw the other horses leave he promptly started grinding his teeth and being stupid. He also grinds them when he is super impatient about getting his grain. Which leads me to believe it has just become a habit to do every time he gets mildly annoyed. I guess it won't hurt to have him checked out for them though.

I will have to look more into the grackle noseband -- I have never heard of them before! Right now I jump him in a figure eight - he does actually grind less in that noseband than in his regular one that I do flatwork in.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
244 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Anabel: I have had a massage therapist come out to the barn to work on him. she has done work on him twice so far -- do you think if he had TMJ issues she would have picked up on that, or is it something I would have to ask her specifically? She is a little .... weird, for lack of a better word, but everybody at the barn really likes her and she seems to know her stuff fairly well.

Even though I don't THINK he has ulcers, now I'm all paranoid about it since he has been grinding his teeth for the entire ten year time I have known him and I would feel terrible if it was because of ulcers! (Although just to point out, I have only owned him myself for about 4 or 5 months)

EDIT: What I find odd, is that when we did our first recognized event he did grind his teeth in the dressage arena several times, but the judge never wrote down anything on the sheet and we got a 7 on the submissive remarks. Does anybody know if this is typical or maybe she just didn't notice?
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
36,324 Posts
I'm having the vet out to get his teeth done soon, so maybe I can ask about scheduling an appointment for checking for ulcers then.

The thing is - I really don't think he has ulcers. It is getting to the point where he just does it when he is annoyed. Today we had a group lesson and the rest of the horses left, but I wanted to stay in the arena and do more work (he hadn't even cracked a sweat), and as soon as he saw the other horses leave he promptly started grinding his teeth and being stupid. He also grinds them when he is super impatient about getting his grain. Which leads me to believe it has just become a habit to do every time he gets mildly annoyed. I guess it won't hurt to have him checked out for them though.

I will have to look more into the grackle noseband -- I have never heard of them before! Right now I jump him in a figure eight - he does actually grind less in that noseband than in his regular one that I do flatwork in.
A grackle noseband is what you call a 'figure eight' - one of those UK translation things!!!
I think most of his teeth grinding is done out of temper tantrum - you might just have to make him deal with whatever it is he doesn't like doing - but ruling out any physical problems that might be giving him discomfort is always the best start
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top