Tooth Fairy Time

Okay….Really it was just equine dentist time.  He came for PJ, Ransom, and my old horse, Fletcher.

PJ’s teeth were fine.  Some sharp points but nothing that would lead to the contact problems I’ve been having, so I now have to admit that it’s me.

Fletcher is a complex case.  Here’s a little back story.  I bought Fletch when he was supposedly 14 years old – everyone thinks he’s much older than 24, which is what he’s supposed to be if his original age was correct.  I spent most of my savings on him, but he was definitely my heart horse and I was his heart human.  We had two great years together before he started having issues.  He had a cough that got really bad when we switched barns and they used straw.  After being there a year we knew he couldn’t stay there, so we moved him to another barn that used shavings and the coughing got better and he would have been rideable again but then he started developing stifle issues. We never knew if he would come out sound or in pain.  The barn I was at did not have good turnout, which was not a good situation for a stifle issue.  I had to make a decision about what to do with him.  He was too good to me, and I promised him I would never sell him.  I looked into retirement barns and was ready to send him to one close by, when my trainer at the time suggested I give him to another trainer she knew.  This person had the right turnout situation (a hill) and was willing to rehab him to use as a lesson horse (he knew all of the Grand Prix movements, so was worth the risk for her).

With a lot of tears, we dropped him off at his new home.  Over the course of a year a lot happened.  I bought a new horse (Speedy) but never forgot Fletcher and checked up on him on occasion.  He was happy with new turnout friends and he became sound, so I was happy for him.  Also during that year, my trainer moved across the country, but before she left she found those of us training with her a new home.  This new home is where I am now (with Barbara) and where we had brought Fletcher!!!  I could see my old guy every day again.  I even rode him again.  He was pleased being a lower level lesson horse and everything was great, except….

Fletcher started having teeth problems – this was 5 years ago.  We had the dentist look at him and he diagnosed him with Hypercementosis.  At the time they didn’t know much about it.  They thought it was an autoimmune disease.  They knew it only affected old geldings.  It seems to only attack the incisors.  Because Fletch was in pain, his options were an expensive surgery to remove all of his incisors or euthanasia.  Other than this problem, he was going strong.  I couldn’t see putting him down but Barbara didn’t have the money for the surgery, so I put out the $4500 for the surgery on a horse I no longer owned, that’s how much he meant to me. He went to New Bolton where he had to be put under general anesthesia.  He had all but the 4 incisors on the top pulled and came home to continue grazing, fighting with his buddies in turnout, and giving lessons.  Everything was going well until a few months ago when Barbara noticed that he was having problems eating again.

PJ and Ransom needed to get done anyway so we scheduled Fletcher at the same time.  Sure enough, his remaining teeth need to be pulled too.  My heart sank because he’s so old and not giving many lessons and has this cough that has gotten worse.  But at least this time the dentist thinks he can do it at the farm under local anesthesia – not the ideal situation but being so old, general anesthesia wouldn’t be recommended anyway.  And the dentist thinks it will only take a half-hour, so normal sedation should be enough.  This time too, I’ll be paying for it but it should be significantly cheaper.  I don’t ever regret paying for the surgery the first time and I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t give him another chance this time.  He’s one special horse.

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2 Responses to Tooth Fairy Time

  1. onthebit says:

    😦 Fletcher is tough though so I am sure he will pull through this. Let me know if you need a hand to hold when it happens…

  2. Net says:

    That just made me teary eyed to read! You are one special horse mom, too, and don’t forget it!

    We bought our house/built our barn to ensure I should be able to keep my heart horse OTTB forever, so I understand doing whatever it takes to care for your heart horse. You should be proud of yourself for doing so much for Fletcher, and I hope he’s happy and healthy after this!

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