Ask an Expert

Managing a Horse With Tender Teeth

The owner of a horse who fights the unbridling process seeks advice from a trustworthy professional.

Journal photo.


I have a 6-year-old gelding that will readily take the bit, but when you go to drop the bit (unbridle) no matter how careful, he pulls back violently. I've tried different bits with the same reaction. He's a performance horse and is ridden almost daily. I've noticed his upper and lower canine teeth seem longer than most. Could it be they need to be ground down so he can drop the bit easier? I've owned him about 10 months and this problem seems to be getting worse.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners has some great advice for this horse owner:



I wonder if, when you unbridle, you are inadvertently "dropping" the bit and allowing it to hit the canine teeth? I would also like you (or your equine veterinarian) to examine your horse's canines to see if they have previously been aggressively "rounded" or "shortened." This can potentially damage the pulp canal in the tooth, making the tooth susceptible to further injury and damage. This could also cause the canine tooth to be more sensitive than normal.

The pulp canal in the canine tooth is large; It is possible to damage the pulp if we "don't know what we are doing." I do not like to be overly aggressive with these teeth for this reason. I hope that this information will help you.

-- Rob Arnott, BSc, DVM, member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners

*AQHA and the provider of this information are not liable for the inherent risks of equine activities. We always recommend consulting a qualified veterinarian and/or an AQHA Professional Horseman.