Youth see horse dentist in action

Mary Ann Van Osdell, Levasseur, John B.

News Release Distributed 05/31/11

SHREVEPORT, La. – You’ve heard of horse whisperers. But what about horse dentists?

Members of the Caddo Parish 4-H Livestock Club met at the LSU AgCenter office May 24 to learn about caring for horses’ teeth.

Many of the 4-H’ers will be participating in the district horse show June 3 in Stonewall.

This was the club’s fourth meeting. The members are interested in learning about all types of animals, said LSU AgCenter agent Johnny LeVasseur. Their interests include goats, pigs, cows and lambs, particularly breeds, medical needs, showing techniques, feeding schedules and care.

Matt Scogin, an equine dentist, told the group of 15 that horses need to be able to eat properly.

4-H’er Tommi Daugherty knew that “if they can’t eat, they get sick.”

During his demonstration, Scogin first washed out the horse’s mouth with water to remove hay, grass and feed.

LeVasseur told the youth Scogin was going to give his horse medicine to “take the edge off and put her at ease.”

Scogin then put a speculum on the horse and demonstrated how he could put his hand inside its mouth without being bitten.

“OK, that’s just freaky,” said 4-H’er Kathryn Irvin.

“His breath reeks, man,” said 4-H’er Trace Keller, who got an up-close look.

Scogin demonstrated his “floating” tools, some costing as much as $1,700, to file and smooth the horse’s sharp-edged teeth that may cause difficulty in chewing. Floating takes about 30 minutes and needs to be done once every six to eight months, he said. “If you keep the horse on a regular schedule, it gets cheaper as you go. It’s similar to changing the oil in your truck.”

Scogin cautioned that “if you can’t afford to get their teeth done, you can’t afford a horse.” He said feed bills are usually lower after a floating because the horse won’t eat as much feed.

Horses grind their teeth from side to side, but they don’t have nerves like humans do. “Their teeth never quit growing,” he added. Males have 40 teeth and females have 36.

Scogin said he learned his trade at equine dentistry schools in Idaho and Texas.

Mary Ann Van Osdell

5/31/2011 6:39:14 PM
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