contributed by Katherine Cilinski, DVM*
The horses in the wild graze continually during the day, while our domesticated horses eat a variety of grasses, hay, and processed feeds. These dietary differences lead to differences in the way the horses chew, the amount of chewing, the types of small particles that are produced during chewing, and ultimately the way the teeth are worn down.
Other major differences between wild and domesticated horses are their lifestyles and life spans. Wild horses usually live 15 - 20 years, while a domestic horse receiving good management and veterinary care can live into its 30's or 40's. During the domesticated horse's life, it may also be expected to perform with a bit in its mouth. Inadequate dental care can lead to pain while eating and while being ridden. Most importantly, long term effects can include premature tooth loss and poor nutrition.
*Dr. Katy Cilinski is a graduate of the VA-MD Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. She is a member of the International Association of Equine Dentistry and the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
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