My Herd & Off-bites --

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Boss Mare

Well-Known Member
Aug 17, 2003
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Mechanicsville, MD
I always tend to buy my stock as weanlings, because I love the experience of raising the babies how I wish. Roughly figure every year since 2001 I've had 1-3 new weanlings a year.

In 2001 I purchased two weanling colts with perfect bites who still have perfect bites as 4 year olds.

In 2002 I purchased a weanling colt and was given a weanling filly, perfect bites then and perfect bites now.

In 2003 I had one foal born here, perfect bite at birth all through her yearling year. As a late yearling she developed an under-bite, teeth floated, even though they really didn't need it (vet's words), she still has an under-bite, it's about 1/2 tooth length or better, sire and dam have perfect bites.

A few months later in 2003 I purchased another filly as a weanling with a perfect bite, around a yearling she had an under-bite, she still has an under-bite and it's very severe ..... way over a full tooth length. Teeth were floated, etc., nothing really can correct it.

In 2004 I purchased a weanling filly, who's bite was perfect then and now, no complaints.

This year in 2005 I had one foal born here, a filly. Her gums lined up perfectly at birth and when she began cutting teeth her bite was right on, until a few weeks ago, now it's about 1/4 tooth off, again an under-bite. I bred her myself and sire and dam have perfect bites. Granted, she's young and I know it can go on/off, but I'm very worried it won't!

So as you can see I seem to be having this 'thing' about fillies and under-bites. Is it all a coincidence or is there something that could be causing this? Either way it doesn't matter to me since I won't breed the ones I feel aren't worthy, they're all loving pets here, but it's something I've been meaning to post for a while.......

ADDED: All of the "off-bites" I am referring to are UNDER-BITES! I don't have a single over-bite.
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Two things I would do is carefully evaluate your feeding program and make sure whoever is floating their teeth is doing it properly.

Young horses, especially, need the right balance of vitamins, minerals and protein for proper growth and development. Anything not balanced in their diet could certainly affect their growth including their jaws, IMO.

Be sure whoever is floating their teeth removes all the hooks! Hooks can keep one jaw or the other from moving properly. And I have had foals as young as weanlings floated.
I agree with Becky - Dental problems can be the result of growth spurts, and dental problems such as hooks. I would have perhaps a new dental resource check her and the others for a second opinion to see what may be occuring as her teeth are erupting.
i bought an malnourished yearling stallion with a perfect bite. We started feeding him and he grew like crazy and his bit went way under. I figured it would never go back. At 2 it was perfect again. He was gelded so it didnt really matter but i was just shocked at how off it was and how it went back.

i think sometimes when they are going thru growth spurts they just move all over.

Also i would see if you could get a equine dentist. We never use our vet as he doesnt even like floating teeth
Teeth seem to be right on one minute and off the next and then back to right on again with young horses. I am most worried when the permanent teeth are coming in and the bite is off.

Off bites are mostly a recessive genetic fault. Both parents must carry it recessively for the foal to show it- the foal rec'd the two "off-bite" genes from the parents. Sometimes however it is found to be that the teeth just don't come in properly and that also can be genetic but can be fixed if it's a case of double rows of teeth, retained teeth and crooked teeth and those such things. I spoke to a geneticist in depth about this exact thing.

If you breed a horse with a true genetic under/overbite most of the foals will not have off bites but WILL be a carrier (recessively). That is why often you'll see ads for "broodmare has off bite but foals haven't had it"- the foals could be carring it recessively.

Anyway- your foals are young yet- I would guess the ones that were only a little off have a good chance of going back to correct. Can't say for sure on the ones that are severe. I've known a dentist or two that can fix a bite- even real bad ones... I haven't had to do that because to me it's fixing a genetic fault to try to pass them off as having a correct bite and I don't do that to my horses.

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