I had the good fortune last weekend to spend an afternoon with Lee Follett from Follett Equine, Inc. in Indiana. Since it has been more than a year since our herd had any dental attention, it was time to see what was going on between the jowels.
Lee was working out of a show barn in the Scottsdale Area called Los Cedros, but he was able to schedule some calls to other barns in the area during his trip. I’m glad he came.
When Lee arrived, he started by taking each of the horse’s pulses to help get insight into their mental and physical condition. He observed their feet, their skin, their coat and asked questions about diet, exercise and general observations. Once each horse was sedated, he used a head support stand and allowed us to put our hands way inside the horse’s mouth while he explained what he saw, what he was going to fix, and why. He worked on waves and hooks and changed angles and filed and rinsed and filed some more.
One of the things that intrigues me about Lee is his wholistic approach to dental work. That doesn’t mean this was a drug-free procedure (although he was kind enough to change ingredients of the cocktail based on the way each horse reacted to the sedation). Instead, Lee focused on the alignment of the teeth and the resulting effect on the way the horse carried his head. One of the horses looked to be level enough in the teeth when I looked at him, but when he head was held completely level, the angles were off.
Lee spoke at length about the role of alignment in the jaw as it relates to the way the horse moves down the trail. Imagine the difference in balance on the skeletal construction of a horse not in proper alignment. And then consider what the resulting effect might be on the shape of the hooves and they way they grow. And still yet, consider what that might mean to his overall long-term health and longevity.
I thought our youngster would be the horse who needed no work, since he is such an easy keeper, a good eater, and is only four years old. He actually needed the most work, requiring the removal of some adult teeth that had come in next to the baby teeth, as well as the removal of some wolf teeth.
Using mostly diamond blades, he went through the various stages of filing and smoothing and making sure the angles were aligned in such a way that the jaw would retain balance and that the teeth could expand into a more efficient and comfortable position. He finished with hand tools and then taking each horse’s head in his hands, made the horse’s jaw close and slide one way, immitating the chewing process. He put his ear right at the jaw, listeing for a dull, even sound, with no obstacles to movement. It was truly fascinating.
When he was finished, Lee prepared charts of the work done and recommendations for follow-up treatment for each horse. Oh, and he loved seeing healthy barefoot hooves. He was quite taken by them.
About Lee Follett
Lee began working with horses while in college in Arizona in 1987. He worked as an assistant trainer at Tom Chauncey’s infamous ranch in North Scottsdale. He moved back to Indiana and worked his his way as a through a degree in environmental science at Indiana-Purdue University of Fort Wayne.
He began managing a large boarding facility in 1996, during which time he was introduced to modern equine dentistry. He graduated from The American School of Equine Dentistry in 1999 and began a one year internship under Lance Rubin IAED/EX. During the internship, Lance was in a bad accident and had to rely on Lee for all of the physical operations of the business for the second half of the internship.
Lee has the enviable advantage of being able to log the dental problems of his training horses and find key correlations to performance and training issues, on which he makes an important focus in his dental lectures. He lectures at the Purina Mills Summer Education Series, colleges, high schools, 4-H, and other horse clubs. He also teaches students at The American School of Equine Dentistry.
Lee works exclusively with veterinarians and receives all equine breeds as patients in Arizona, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, and Michigan. He continues to broaden his knowledge and skills through consistent interaction with colleagues and veterinarians.
Lee does not have much of a website, but if you’d like to see if his national travel schedule will bring him close to you, try calling the number here for an appointment: http://follettequine.com.
How regularly do you have dental work done on your horse? Do you think it makes a difference to his or her general health?
Keep up the bootlegging!
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I am responsible for the marketing and branding of the EasyCare product line. I believe there is a great deal to be gained from the strategy of using booted protection for horses, no matter what the job you have for your horse.