Exclusively Equine Chiropractic and Dentistry
Enhancing Optimal Health Through Balance and Alignment.
Establishing and restoring optimal function and health through Specific Chiropractic Care, Structural Alignment, Neuromuscluar Balancing , Acupuncture and Dental care.
To provide exceptional care respecting the relationship between Horse and Owner.
Communication is a key component through on time appointments, prompt returning of calls, texts, and emails.
Why Exclusively Equine Chiropractic and Dentistry?
Exclusively Equine Chiropractic and Dentistry offers first class, quality service in Black Forest Colorado and surrounding areas. In order to provide the best possible care, Sandra Blackwood, DVM, CVSMT has chosen to limit her practice to equine chiropractic, acupuncture, and dentistry. Instead of dividing her attention between all aspects of equine medicine, Dr. Blackwood specializes in dentistry and chiropractic/acupuncture/sports medicine cases. During any chiropractic case, Dr. Blackwood typically lunges the horse as well as screens for stomach / intestinal pain and looks for other health problems to identify underlying reasons for the horse's discomfort and optimize your horses health and well being. Lameness and other problems are referred to a generalized veterinarian of your choice.
Dr. Blackwood has invested in advanced dental training and equipment to provide the best care for your equine partner. With a selection of motorized equipment, extraction tools, cavity filling materials, and, most recently, the addition of the Power-float water cooling system, Exclusively Equine is well-equipped to treat dental problems. Equine dentistry has come a long way from the traditional brief manual float without sedation or specialized tools!
Dr. Blackwood received her post-graduate training in Veterinary Spinal Manipulation at the Healing Oasis Wellness Center in Wisconsin in 2005. This program is the only school in the United States with a state-approved certification program in Veterinary Chiropractic. She also attends regular continuing education in holistic medicine and acupuncture. However, the horses have been her best and most instructive teachers. Her file of cases treated numbers over 10,000. The combination of veterinary training and life-long horse experience gives Dr. Blackwood a unique approach to equine spinal care. Every horse she examines for chiropractic care is also evaluated for underlying problems, particularly lameness. If these problems are not identified and addressed, a chiropractic adjustment will help the horse for a time but the problems will reoccur.
In addition to providing excellent care, Exclusively Equine values your time and strives to stay on schedule. On the rare occasion that we are running more than ten minutes late, we will contact you.
Factors to Consider when Selecting an Equine Dental Professional
When evaluating a dental professional, you may want to consider the scope and level of their work. How many dental procedures do they perform in a week? How long have they been in practice? Are they a veterinarian licensed to practice in this state? Do they balance the entire mouth or do they limit their work to filing off the sharp edges? Can they treat dental infections and cavities? Do they sedate the horse, and do they use a dental speculum to examine the mouth? The majority of horses require sedation to perform a thorough dental procedure. Sedation and a dental speculum often make the difference between excellent dentistry and mediocre work. The level of care will impact the results you get from dentistry; comprehensive dental care will maximize your horse's performance, comfort, feed utilization, and tooth life. Dr. Blackwood has performed well over 10,000 dental procedures and her Equine Dentist and technician, Brian Grover, has performed many thousands of dentals as well. Experience does matter. Watching our patients over many years has given us a feel for a moderate approach - many cases respond very well to a conservative approach, while a lesser number require a more aggressive approach.
Also ask the dental professional if they are licensed and insured. Although complications associated with most dental procedures are rare, problems can occur. Only licensed veterinarians can legally administer sedation to your horse. If you do not use a veterinarian to provide dental care for your horse, you should arrange for a veterinarian to provide sedation for your horse in most cases.
Probably the most common question we are asked is how we adjust an animal as large as a horse. It must take a lot of force, right? Actually, excessive force can tear ligaments, strain muscles, and even fracture cartilage. The key to adjusting a horse effectively is skill not strength. Unlike most chiropractic manipulations in humans, horses are adjusted a single joint at a time. The force is applied in a very specific direction and in a very specific way. In addition, the horse must be relaxed. Therefore, a thorough understanding of equine anatomy is necessary to perform effective adjustments without excessive, possibly damaging force. Experience tends to result in faster, more precise but less forceful and obvious adjustments. This approach restores spinal balance while causing minimal soft tissue stress and inflammation.
It is important that a chiropractic examination includes an assessment of the whole horse, particularly a gait evaluation for soundness. At least thirty percent of the horses we evaluate have underlying problems that contribute to their chiropractic issues. Low-grade lameness, poor fitting tack or blankets, shoeing issues, and dental problems commonly contribute to back and neck pain in horses. Dr. Blackwood evaluates every horse she adjusts for factors that may be contributing to the horse's problems
MEET THE TEAM
Dr. Sandra Blackwood DVM. CVSM.
Dr Sandra Blackwood graduated first in her veterinary class at Colorado State University in 1999. Equine veterinary care was a natural culmination of a lifetime love of horses. Her mother reports that her first word was "horsie" and she began riding at the age of five. She began employment in the equine industry at the age of 14, trading chores for lessons. Her interest in dentistry began during her equine clinical rotations during veterinary school when she was introduced to specialized dentistry through a professor with a particular interest in the equine mouth. She saw many horses that did not receive adequate dental care, and was determined to improve the standard of equine dentistry in her own practice.
Dr Sandi has competed in a variety of disciplines, including dressage, jumping, eventing, competitive trail, and endurance riding. She especially enjoys long trail rides in the mountains. These experiences have made her aware of the benefits of adjustments, soft tissue work, and acupuncture on the long-term soundness and performance of her horses. Also, learning to manage one's own sport horses is one of the best ways to learn the nuances of nutrition, supplementation, saddle fit, and many other facets of horse health that are difficult to learn any other way.
Dr Sandi has chosen to make dentistry, chiropractic, and acupuncture the mainstay of her equine veterinary practice. By limiting the scope of her practice, she can provide the very best in equipment, training, and experience.
Eventing with KatangaThrough a lifetime of experience with horses, Dr. Sandi understands how overall health and comfort affect your equine partner's well-being and performance. Due to their generous nature, many horses perform adequately despite pain. However, most horses will perform better if yearly dental care is performed by a skilled equine dentist. Regular evaluation by a skilled equine chiropractor/acupuncturist can also help your horse stay sound and comfortable for as long as possible. Dr. Sandi has over twenty years experience riding and training many different types of horses, including Arabians, Tennessee Walking Horses, Thoroughbreds, and Warmbloods and over ten years experience in dental specialization and alternative medicine. Dr. Sandi owns two horses of her own; Machi and Nifty, both Arabian geldings. Neo, a Friesian / QH belongs to Lee Blackwood and also lives at home on the property in Black Forest.
Mr. Brian Grover.
Brian is an integral part of Exclusively Equine. With over ten years of experience and thousands of dental procedures under his belt, he is an accomplished equine dentist. In addition, his presence during procedures ensures safe and gentle handling of your horse. He has a strong understanding of equine body language, and a knack for quickly gaining their trust. A strong love for horses has been passed down for generations in Brian's family. Brian owned his very own pony, Manger, when he was six and has been involved in horses ever since. Brian enjoys trail riding his Tennessee Walker, Noodles. He also is proficient in gently trick-training horses, an art passed down to him by his father, Robert.
Dr. Lee J. Blackwood DC.
Dr. Lee has been a human chiropractor in practice for over 25 years. Graduated Life Chiropractic College West in 1993. Dr. Blackwood Frequently saw small animals in his family practice for years before joining the Exclusively Equine team. His love of animals and years of chiropractic made him a welcome addition to the team.
Chiropractic and Acupuncture
How does chiropractic help my horse and why does my horse need it?
Nearly all horses can benefit from the optimized health and balance of the body achieved through good body work. Chiropractic can be used to prevent problems and enhance your horses symmetry and comfort. Many problems have to be quite severe for a horse to show obvious pain. Ideally, it is better to treat problems before they become advanced enough to cause obvious problems.
There are many common factors, such as stall confinement, riding equipment, ability and symmetry of the rider (many of us have had our own past injuries!), trauma (especially slips or falls), conformation faults, and inherent wear and tear that results in abnormal or limited movement within the spine. Although horses can and do carry us, their back is not really designed for the weight of a rider. Nor do they perform many of the movements we ask of them naturally and repeatibly if left to their own devices.
The most common symptoms of body pain are compensatory changes in gait, posture, and performance. These changes stress other muscles and joints. Common symptoms include:
- Decrease in level of performance
- Difficulty bending on one direction
- Behavioral changes - grumpy behavior, spookiness, moving away when saddled, cinchiness, sensitivity when grooming, bucking, refusing jumps
- Shortened strides
- Difficulty or reluctance in one direction
- Loss of ability to collect
- Cross cantering or difficulty picking up one lead
- Muscle imbalance, spasms, or atrophy
- Saddle consistently shifting to one side
- Tilting at the poll when bending the neck
How can an animal as large as a horse be adjusted?
It is important to remember that adjustments are specific to a single joint within the spine. The entire horse is not being adjusted at one time. The force required to adjust a joint within the spine is no greater than that needed to manipulate a fetlock. Excessive force is not needed. Just as over-extension of the fetlock can result in arthritis, excessive force can result severe damage to the joints of the spine.
How many treatments will my horse need?
The answer depends on the severity of your horse's problems and his or her level of performance as well as an owner's commitment to home therapy. Long-standing problems usually require more treatments than acute problems. Young horses tend to recover flexibility faster than older horses. A specific treatment schedule cannot be outlined without evaluating the individual horse. Specific exercises and physical therapy are often prescribed for the owner to perform at home. Often, these exercises significantly decrease the need for repeated re-adjustments.
Exclusively Equine Dentistry
My horse has never shown signs of a dental problem. Why does he need yearly dental care?
Horses often do not show signs of pain, even when it is extreme. Time after time we see horses with razor-sharp teeth and severe ulcers that do not exhibit obvious signs of pain, such as head tossing, fighting the bit, rearing, or dropping feed. Also, dental problems can become irreversible if left untreated over a period of time.
What symptoms may indicate that my horse has a dental problem?
Many horses show no signs at all! However, dropping feed, weight loss, resisting the bit, failure to easily collect, stiffness in one direction, rearing, head tossing, nasal discharge, draining tracts, facial swelling, or a foul odor from the mouth can indicate a dental problem.
Why do horse's teeth require regular care? How do wild horses manage without dentistry?
Between the age of 18 months and 5 years, horses lose 24 "baby" teeth and erupt up to 44 permanent teeth. Sometimes the baby teeth do not shed properly, resulting in sharp splintered fragments (caps) or interfering with normal eruption of the permanent teeth. These caps should be removed to ensure oral comfort during a critical training period and a normal permanent bite.
Unlike humans, horses teeth continue to erupt throughout the horse's lifetime. As a young adult, most of the crown of the tooth is under the gumline. Only 10% of the total tooth is visible in the mouth. Over the horse's lifetime, the tooth continues to erupt at a rate of 2-3 mm per year until the entire tooth is worn away (usually in the horse's 20's). The upper jaw is wider than the lower jaw. This results in uneven wear on the teeth, causing sharp points to form on the outside of the upper teeth and the inside of the lower teeth. Also, many horses have abnormal patterns of wear, which can result in abnormally long or short teeth. These conditions can become irreversible if uncorrected for long periods of time and can cause tooth fractures, infections, and tooth loss.
Selective breeding of domestic horses does not select for dental health. Also, wild horses do not live as long as domestic horses. The average lifespan of wild horses has been reported to be 12 years, while it is not uncommon for domestic horses to live into their thirties! In order to preserve the functional life of the teeth as long as possible, regular dental care is a must.
Do horses have baby teeth?
Like humans, horses get two sets of teeth in their lifetime. The baby teeth, also called deciduous teeth, are temporary. The first deciduous incisors usually erupt before the foal is born. The last baby teeth come in when the horse is about 8 months of age. These teeth begin to be replaced by adult teeth around age 2. By age 5, most horses have their full complement of permanent teeth. Adult horses have 36 to 44 permanent teeth. The number varies because some horses have up to 4 wolf teeth (small vestigial teeth located just in front of the cheek teeth) while others have none, and mares are less likely to have canine teeth.
The following chart shows the approximate ages at which different teeth erupt.
- Deciduous (Baby Teeth)
- 1st incisors (centrals) Birth or 1st week
- 2nd incisors (intermediates) 4-6 weeks
- 3rd incisors (corners) 6-9 months
- 1st, 2nd, & 3rd premolars (cheek teeth) Birth or first 2 weeks all premolar
Permanent (Adult Teeth)
- 1st incisors (centrals) 2 1/2 years
- 2nd incisors (intermediates) 3 1/2 years
- 3rd incisors (corners) 4 1/2 years
- Canines 4-5 years
- Wolf teeth (1st premolars) 5-6 months
- 2nd premolars (1st cheek teeth) 2 1/2 years
- 3rd premolars (2nd cheek teeth) 3 years
- 4th premolars (3rd cheek teeth) 4 years
- 1st molars (4th cheek teeth) 9-12 months
- 2nd molars (5th cheek teeth) 2 years
- 3rd molars (6th cheek teeth) 3 1/2 - 4 years
Do you use power tools? Can these damage my horse's teeth?
Dr Blackwood uses a combination of power tools and hand instruments to perform most dental procedures. Power tools have many advantages over traditional hand floats, including less soft tissue damage and quicker removal of overgrown teeth, which shortens the time the mouth must be open and decreases stress on the TMJ and jaw muscles. Modern power tools greatly improve the ability to reach the rear teeth, an area often neglected by traditional dentistry. Correctly used power tools are completely safe for the teeth and make the procedure more comfortable for your horse.
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