Today he went to see an equine dental specialist, our good friend and hero Kevin Rundle. Now, with Kevin it isn't just a question of climbing inside the mouth and starting to file. He watched a video of the horse in work, that showed the problem. And he then reached to a spot on the front of Rocky's neck and squeezed. The horse almost went through the roof. You see, there is a ligament that runs from the hyoid process, at the base of the tongue. It comes down the jugular groove, divides at the chest and connects into the leg apparatus. It's purpose is to ensure that as the horse's leg moves, the tongue pulls down keeping the airway open. Horses, after all, run on air. They have to breathe in the rhythm of their stride, and they have to be able to get that precious air in and out smoothly. I could tell you horror stories.... but they aren't Rocky's.
One of the ways Kevin could tell where to look for trouble was on the face. And this is what I find so totally cool! Even the vet commented that although she knew about these ligaments, she had never seen them so defined. That's because they aren't really supposed to be defined.
If you look just below and above his eye, in the first photo, you will see three lines, like chicken toes. These are the ligaments that connect the insertion points into the TMJ (Tempormandibular Joint) -- which is one of the most critical joints in the body, be you horse or human, and the one most often overlooked. On Rocky they stood out vividly, because his TMJ was blocked, locked, stuck. His teeth, which in horses continue to grow endlessly, had developed hooks that were preventing him from moving his jaw from side to side. Now, Rocky gets regular attention from his regular vet, and I am not going into any of that, except to say that Kevin is so incredibly knowledgable that he is my 'Go To Guy' for dental issues. He always works with a vet present -- and a couple of times a year he comes to my barn, along with my vet, and a pile of horses.
It's the kind of thing I find fascinating about working with the horses and riders. Getting to the root of problems, be they belonging to the horse or the rider, balancing the bodies of two separate athletes, understanding how the systems inter-connect.
Thanks for the anatomy lesson today Kevin! Thanks Rocky for being such a good model!