Examining the Whole Horse

A thorough exam ensures the right treatment foot each horse

The Evaluation

First, Phil takes time to introduce himself to the horse. This quiet, simple act establishes a respect and rapport that makes the rest of the process smoother. The evaluation works within the paradigm of what that horse presents. Each horse is different, whether normal or abnormal. It is as if the horse is saying, “hey, this is me, work with it”. Since no two horse’s mouths are the same, adjustments must be made to fit the horse, not the limitations of the dentist.

The first step is a thorough evaluation of the entire horse. This exam is not limited to the mouth and head, but also takes in body condition, asymmetry, head position, personality, gait, gait changes. Some other considerations are breed, age, conditioning, use, performance demands, type of feed. Even the amount of time spent being hauled can change tooth structures. With a practiced eye, and keen awareness, Phil can pick up on the subtle signs that indicate what and where the problem is. The owner is also asked questions about food, nutritional sources, habits, changes, past traumas. The teeth are checked for occlusion, wear and points. The exam can also reveal other dental disorders, and acquired dental problems from previous, poor adjustments. In some cases, diagnostic X-rays from a vet may be part of the assessment process.

Phil also employees thermographic imaging as a gauge to the changes that take place over the whole horse. Pain centers and imbalances show as hot spots, and are usually shown to disappear following the adjustment process.

“Phil Ratliff of Right Bite EQD is more than just an equine dentist. He genuinely cares not only about my equine friend’s teeth, but about their total well being. He uses the least invasive methods for maximum alignment. He believes in doing just enough to restore my horse’s natural alignment.”

“Thank you Mr. Ratliff for your gentle and caring methods used when helping my equine friends with their dental needs. The patience and kindness you exhibit when dealing with them shows me that you are more than just a equine dentist, but a true horseman.”
Penny Higdon - Sonoita Arizona




whole horse careSpend the money where it’s needed most.

Your Horse is an Individual with Specific Needs

This is where a thorough evaluation of the whole horse is critical. The approach to realignment is dictated by the needs of each individual horse. No two cases are the same. Sometimes the mouth has to be fixed first.

In many cases, the pathology in the mouth that is the result of a trauma in the hind end. It is important to get those issues resolved prior to working on the mouth, or else the mouth will continue to be out of balance, and abnormal pathology will return.

"Sometimes you have to fix the body before you fix the mouth---then the body will allow you to fix the mouth."


A Team Approach

Since equine oral bio mechanics are part of a larger system, it is important to work as a team to achieve corrections. This may involve working with acupuncturists, body work or chiropractic. Some modalities require a veterinarian to perform, or to supervise. Phil Ratliff works with equine therapeutic modality experts around the country to round out your horse's treatment protocol.


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