Sunday, May 26, 2013

Jeffery Klepinger, Equine Dentist

Equine Dentist, Jeffery Klepinger, shares his insight to equine dental care; the importance of caring for your horse's teeth! 

Welcome Jeff!

Where are you in the world? 

I live in Orange Park, Florida, USA. But travel all of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Maryland.

Do you remember your first encounter with a horse?

I do not remember but have pictures of me at 3 yrs old on the back of a horse at my Aunt's Farm in Illinois. I have been around them all my life.

What is your favorite horse breed?

Quarter Horse is my favorite breed. They are what I have owned and I find they are easy to work with.

Why did you choose horse dentistry as a profession?

I didn't it chose me! I started out as a farrier graduating from Oklahoma Horse Shoeing School in Oklahoma City back in 1994. I took their Equine Dentistry course also while I was there. I did farrier work for 10 yrs in and around north east Florida. Clay County decided to bring in wild mustangs for locals to buy at auction and I was a young buck then and took on the challenge of trimming these guys. It was a lot of work but hard labor and hurt my back in the process. I don't do farrier work anymore. To make a long story short I decided I love working with the horse and went to work doing the Dentistry.

How important is it to have my horse's teeth floated?... often?

It is just as important to have your horses teeth floated as it is to have their hooves trimmed. For proper care you should have your horse examined at the least every 6 months till the age of 10 to around 12 yrs old. Then most horses will be able to have yearly exams.

Do you always use a speculum when floating?

Myself no! There is a lot to this. I have a unique way of putting my hand in the horse’s mouth where they can't bite me. This allows me to do a full exam of the horse’s mouth visually and by feel. I actually reach the very last molars in the back of the mouth. I have to give credit to Dr. Geoff Tucker of The Equine Practice in Florida for teaching me this method. So through the whole process of floating the teeth I do not use a speculum.

Is sedation always required?

95% of the time if I am floating your horse’s teeth NO sedation is needed. This is very, very important for the horse and requires very good horsemanship skills. There are few equine dentists in this world that practice this way. First of all I am not using power tools. I use mostly hand tools. Which in turn allows me to take off the proper amount of tooth and not have to worry about taking too much off or having to worry about the tooth getting too hot from power tools. I have to add this but it is very important to check out your equine dentist thoroughly and make sure they are a professional. Even if they are a Vet there are a lot that do not do very good work. It is to easy to go in with power tools and sure you make the teeth look very nice and smooth but if you're the horse and have smooth teeth and try eating and masticating your food it can be rather hard with a smoothed surface. Just like our teeth they have dips and crevices in their teeth that help break down the food for proper nutrition. Also by not using sedation the horse seems to be more comfortable and learns in the process that I am simply taking the pain away and by the end, the horse is standing there letting me do what I need to do.

What's the worst case you've ever seen?

I would have to say that the worst cases I see are from lack of knowledge that the horse even needs their teeth floated. After all the teeth for some are out of sight out of mind.

As a horse owner, what is the most important thing I can do to ensure healthy teeth for my horse?

Have them examined by a professional twice a year. They are not like us and drink soda or eat bad stuff. (Well most of them). Usually problems can be detected and eliminated with regular check ups.

What does horsemanship mean to you?

A person that has the ability to connect with most any horses they come in contact with. Horses talk to us in their own way and horsemanship is being able to communicate back where they understand.

Contact Jeff (904) 327-9116

A note from Gina...


Dental health is important to prolonging the life of your horse. Like humans, teeth and gum health are important to internal organ sustainability. As a horse ages, their teeth grow (an old saying is that as we age we grow ‘long in the tooth’, which is only true for equines).

Rasping or ‘floating’ a horse’s teeth by a certified equine dentist will diminish sharp edges and misalignment, which help the horse’s ability to chew and digest food more efficiently.

Indications that your horse may need dental care include excessive slobbering, weight loss despite adequate nutrition, snotty nose from one nostril only, dropping feed from the mouth, and turning their head sideways to chew.

Routine dental care is important to extending the life of your horse. Have your horse’s teeth checked regularly by a certified equine dentist, such as Jeff, to prolong the life of your horse.

No comments: