Weird behavior/maybe dental issue?

Yesterday my mare (7 y/o) was acting weird. Such a strange sequence of events but bear with me. First I gave her some hay while I was going to tack up and she took an absolutely massive chunk and was trying to chew it but it was obviously way too much and I was like wtf and pulled it out of her mouth. It just struck me as weird so I took her out to hand graze and watch her for a bit and she would take some bites and then quid. She also was moving her jaw around. I started to panic thinking she was choking but she wasn’t really distressed or coughing and nothing came out of her nose. I gave her some warm water and she drank quite a bit. Wasn’t interest in hay but would take treats. I took away her hay and turned her back out and kept an eye on her. Long story short I fed her dinner which was fine, she finished her hay net last night, and ate breakfast fine…

Dental issue? She was floated in the spring. “mild” choke? If that is even a thing. Some sort of colicky symptom? We had a huge cold front come through the night before. We also get stickers or burrs here, do our best to control them but wondering if she got one stuck in her cheek or something?

Could very well be a fractured tooth. Smell in her mouth - does it smell like rotting vegetation? Sometimes food can pack in there and you can smell it. Other times no packing but the gum and mouth is very sore from the jagged edge of a broken tooth. I would get a dental exam - somebody who can sedate and use a speculum to see all in the mouth. Been there.


If I were you I’d get a good dentist, using a speculum and head lamp, and get a good exam. Over the years and over multiple horses I’ve observed unhappy, pissy behavior in a horse that ended up being a fractured tooth and she was a sweet heart after getting it out.

Most recently noticing my old guy would hold his mouth open while eating and sure enough found a fractured tooth, got it out and that has stopped.

My other horse, after eating only, has been going to the top of a 4 board fence and hanging her incisors on it. Dentist examined and declared nothing going on and she is cribbing. Nope, she’s not cribbing. Still have yet to figure that out. But, have noticed on her that food is getting impacted up along her molars. The are coming back for a 6 mo exam to check on that.

These poor guys. They can’t talk and tell us what is going on.

Good on you for noticing. Do you keep a journal? Has really helped me out over the past 25 yrs.


That is an odd behaviour… definitely not one I’ve seen so this isn’t based on personal experience, but could her TMJ be sore?

It’s always possible and good idea. I’ll do some Masterson release work there and let’s see if we see a change.

When I adopted her (rescue) I’d never seen such terrible hooks and sores in a mouth. You couldn’t put your hand on her poll and she threw her head for a good while. She wouldn’t even graze. Walked a fence for a week. Was not in her body. I’d never seen anything like it but I also had not been involved in rescue work before.

But that was some 6 yrs ago now and she has no reaction to her poll anymore.

She also used to clamp down on the corner plastic feed tub and thrash her mouth hard. It was violent and clearly her way of coping with something. She stopped doing that 3 yrs ago or so.

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