the barn in fall

the barn in fall

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tranquilizers, Power Tools, Pliers, and a Horse

You think you had a bad day at the dentist?  Pull up a chair, son.  Fritz would like to have a beer with you and tell you what a real dental nightmare is like.

Today was the annual spring vet visit.  This is mainly for innoculations - rabies, Potomac horse fever, tetanus, and two varieties of equine encephalitis.  All that is in two shots, placed on each side of the neck.  They either take it stoically like Code Red, or they jump like a bee stung them - that would be Remi, the big baby.

This year we added floating Fritz's teeth, which generally means filing off the hooks and rough spots that develop as horses age and teeth keep erupting.  However, it turned out to be a bit more.  Because Dr. Ryker is a very understanding (and outstanding) vet, I have it all in pictures.

First, because Fritz objects strenuously to having someone yank his tongue aside and power-file his teeth, he had to be tranquilized.  It only takes a few minutes to turn him into a drugged-out pussy cat:
Getting a horse to open wide is another matter.  So once he's cooperative, Dr. Ryker and Jodi, a 4th-year vet student assisting him today, fit a device on him that prevents him from closing his mouth.  I think it was designed by Hannibal Lecter.
It can't be comfortable, but those drugs are working, and Fritz just wants to catch a few Z's.
When we're ready to go, they prop Fritz's head on a support pole.  Now, let's see what we have to work with, from Dr. Ryker's view:
This is not good.  Fritz has already lost several teeth, and three more are loose.  He can't chew comfortably with loose teeth any more than you could, so all three have to come out.  The remaining ones will get their sharp edges filed down.  The main dental equipment consists of this portable generator with an on/off foot pedal.  The vet straps on the equipment that allows him to use different grinding attachments.  I get to help - I hit the foot pedal on command while Dr. Ryker files the teeth and Jodi holds the dopey horse.
When the back teeth are done, it's time to pull those loose teeth.  Imagine the pliers from hell...

It only takes a couple seconds to grab and pull...
...and they're out.

It's a little bloody after that, but Jodi gets to try her hand at finishing off some teeth because THIS IS WHAT SHE WANTS TO DO FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE.  Well, this and other messy, difficult things that horse vets do.  You gotta love horses to understand.
There's a little more grinding on the front teeth to ensure an even bite.  Fritz will be on soft food for a couple days, then he'll get by on Equine Senior for the rest of his life because chewing hay with the few teeth he has left is a pretty futile effort.  All in all, that's not bad for a horse who turns 29 in a couple weeks. 

Now the last part - writing up the bill.  Farm call, shots, and extensive dental work came to $385.  I toughed out my part without tranquilizers.  Fritz is worth it.

1 comment:

  1. Poor Fitz,
    Good thing he has a good owner like you to take care of him.
    I give you a lot of credit to stomach that...because as soon as the doc put on that "Cannibal Lecter" devise, I'd have been gone.
    Thanks for sharing,