That’s the advice, an idiom stemming from a truth.  The health and age of a horse  generally determined by teeth and hoof condition, though there are other indicators of both.

I’ll be looking a gift horse in the mouth today.  I’m not looking forward to it.

Amadeus, nearly four-year old gelding, isn’t eating anything except fine particles of hay.  He’s having difficulty walking and is generally depressed.  When he does eat, he quids, which means he chews the hay into a ball and spits it out. All of his feet are hot.  I think I’m dealing with two or three separate problems.

Close little herd.

Close little herd.

I took this photo in June of this year, and that’s Amadeus in the center.  You can see how mistreated my equine are. The hoops are for them – when we play together, I toss the hoops over their heads, on to their necks.  Eventually,  Amadeus and Starlight get too close and the game is over.  Getting closer to the treats is more fun, which are in my pocket and they know it.

The following shows Amadeus playing with his ball and feeling fine.

The hot feet could be from infected heel bulbs, which are at the back of the hoof and are swollen.  We’ve made “shoes” for him, cut from a gardening foam kneeling pad and wrapped around his hoof with Gorilla tape.  I soaked his feet in epsom salts last night, for a good cleaning, first.  All three equine are getting petroleum jelly rubbed on the heels and frogs.

We have mud here, and it’s higher than their hock bones.  There’s bacteria present in soil, no doubt and taking a toll on their hooves, especially the soles frog and heel.  For now, they’re relegated to the paddock, where the mares get irritable and pushy.  It’s the driest place I have for them.

Yesterday, I wrapped Amadeus and Starlight in thick plastic and taped it tightly, then let them out into the larger area, where you see them playing last July, featured in the above link.

I didn’t have my camera with me, as usual, but they reminded me of two big kids who were wearing ice skates for the first time and just got pushed on to the ice!  I had tears in my eyes as I laughed heartily at their entertaining slipping and sliding!

When I cut the skates off later in the day, I found tiny mud puddles, though it seemed to help keep their feet moderately free from mud.   Starlight didn’t know what to make of them, and walked like a Hackney Pony!

Starlight lifted her feet like this!

Starlight lifted her feet like this!

My mother bought Amadeus for me when he was six months old from someone in Atascadero, California, who raised miniature horses as a ‘hobby.’  No one wanted him and I thought that Starlight could use a pal, as she is closer to his age than Brandy, the old fart.  It cost more to have him shipped from Atascadero to the desert of SoCal, than for him.

Amadeus is nearly four now and in past months, we’ve found a few of his teeth.  I recall looking at his face and one of his front teeth was gone!  I thought he has rammed into the wooden fence rail during play, but realized it was a baby tooth and a new one would soon take its place. As I know it, between the ages of three and five, new teeth come in.

He could be losing a tooth, and the first tooth on top (called a ‘cap’)  could be putting pressure on the tooth coming in.   Or, it could be that because of chewing, he has some little points that have developed on his grinding teeth and in chewing, the point rubs against his cheek.

I had their teeth “floated” before I moved up in May, 2011.  Floating – odd term for filing off the points.

Next action?  Sticking my fingers in there along the side, to find any sharp points.  If I find sharp edges, I’ll need a special file and my special Mark to help me with the project.  I’m hoping to keep my fingers intact.

It’s not fun messing with a powerful little animal weighing over 300 pounds.  The first day I started treating his feet he was terrified and so sore, that he reared up on me, twice.  This makes him much taller and I’m smart enough to notice the signs and get the hell out-of-the-way.  I went back to him with patience and understanding.

There is an equine dentist who makes the rounds here in rural Crescent City, CA.  My farrier and equine vet told me the starting price and that the horse is drugged.  There’s no part of that idea that I like, so I’ll be looking a gift horse in the mouth today.