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By Eleanor Blazer

Does your horse save quids? Maybe, if he’s British, and understands the value of pound sterling. But if he isn’t and doesn’t, then he probably has a problem inside his mouth. Your horse’s quid is made up of feed he’s attempted to chew and has not swallowed.

Many times the first sign of a dental issue is the appearance of a quid tucked between cheek and gum. As a horse chews his lower jaw moves side to side and this action causes the teeth to grind unevenly. Overtime, points (sharp edges) can develop on the inside of the lower teeth and the outside of the upper teeth. These points are very sharp and can lacerate the inside of the mouth and/or the side of the tongue. Horses will pack a quid between the teeth and cheek to try to pad the sore area.

If you notice your horse protecting his cheek by packing a quid, it’s time to call an equine dentist or veterinarian. The practitioner will “float” or file off the sharp edges of the teeth. This procedure does not hurt, because the adult equine tooth does not have nerves or blood supply. Finding wads of partially chewed forage in your horse’s living area is also a sign something is wrong. It’s possible the hay is not very good; it may contain sharp seeds, stems, weeds, stickers or not be palatable. Your horse wants to eat the hay, but doesn’t like it, so he spits some out. He’s telling you it’s time to find better quality hay.

If the hay and teeth are satisfactory, the next area to examine is the tongue. A cut or foreign object, such as a splinter, can inhibit the horse’s ability to move feed into position for chewing. The feed becomes wet, but is dropped because of pain. Another quidding cause is an injury or arthritis in the jaw. Pain can make it difficult for the horse to chew, so he wads the hay and spits it out.

Quidding is very common in the senior horse. Missing teeth and other dental issues make it difficult for senior horses to utilize hay. Introducing the old-timer to a complete feed that can be soaked is the best solution. Don’t forget to follow the feeding instructions and offer small frequent meals. Unfortunately quidding is also a learned behavior. After fixing the problem which started the quidding, the horse may continue or return to his habit.

If you see a quid, the first thing to do is be sure you are offering plenty of high quality forage and the horse is getting enough to meet his nutritional requirements. You may have to add a supplement to his diet. Too bad quids aren’t worth something!

About the Author: For information about equine nutrition take the online course “Nutrition for Maximum Performance” taught by Eleanor Blazer. Go to www.horsecoursesonline.com for more information and CHA members get a discount on all courses.