WHEATLAND – When a horse has tooth pain, it may be more than uncomfortable, and may even be a sign of a more serious condition. Due to the fact that most horses don’t have Mr. Ed qualities, people need to be aware of the signs of this very patient animal.
Jessie Wolfe, a Redmond, Oregon, native is a mobile equine dentist that travels around the country doing routine maintenance, cleaning, grinding and even tooth removal on horses. She was recently in Platte County at Rafter MB quarter horse Arena and Events Center.
Wolfe graduated from Redmond High School in 2012 and went to a community college in central Oregon before she graduated and developed a passion for riding horses.
“In 2015 I moved to Texas,” Wolfe said. “I was a loper for a cutting trainer. I worked there for a lot of trainers. And then at the end of 2015 I moved to Colorado. For a boy (now Wolfe’s husband, Logan). And here I am.”
A loper is basically a rider who lives on-site to assist in exercising horses, saddling and unsaddling horses, cooling down and warming horses up, bathing and helps with feeding.
As far as how she got into the skill of equine dentistry, it bloomed from a love and caring for her own horses.
“I’ve always had my horses worked on, back in Oregon where I used to show a lot,” Wolfe said. “And I wanted to do something with horses, but I didn’t want to train because I didn’t want to take away from my hobby which was just riding and getting to show.”
She learned at a young age that she wanted that part of horsemanship to be her life and not her livelihood.
“So, I looked into maybe the bodywork side of things,” she said. “Anything but training. I’ve always been fascinated with dentistry and so I went to school for it.”
And the school she went to was a place where she could specialize in equine dentistry.
“There is an academy in Glenns Ferry, Idaho, called The Academy of Equine Dentistry and it’s been there for years,” Wolfe said. “They started out with hand floating and as times have changed techniques changed and people from all over the world come to learn from them.”
According to the Academy of Equine Dentistry website, It “is a school designed to educate dental technicians and veterinarians in the field of equine dental care. Students come from all over the world to attend classes at the Academy that will help set them apart from other equine dental practitioners.
Our training program is the most rigorous there is in the field.
Our goals are:
As for the technique of hand floating, according to drweldys.com, “As the horse grinds its' food some of the chewing surface of the cheek teeth is worn off. The part of the tooth not worn off over time becomes a sharp point. Hand floating refers to the removal of these points with a manual rasp. ... Most equine veterinarians don't just “float” teeth, they practice equilibration.”
Wolfe said that it was an “awesome school and the best in the industry.” She graduated from there in 2018 and part of the curriculum was to actually practice equine dentistry, and so she now has three years of experience under her belt. Local people say that she’s one of the best in the western states.
“I love my job,” she said. “I travel all over, get to meet really awesome people and I love horses so that makes it easy.”
Although the majority of equine dentists are mobile, there are some that do have actual buildings where people bring in their horses. For the ease of travel, however it makes it a much simpler solution, instead of packing up and transporting horses and then transporting them back again, to just have the doctor’s visit. Especially considering that the horses are under anesthetic and it’s safer to keep them at home and there is less stress in their home environment.
“Every state law is different,” Wolfe said. “Some you have to be a veterinarian, some you have to work for the veterinarian, so I think that’s the biggest challenge is knowing all the state laws and regulations. You can test with the IAED which is the International Academy of Equine Dentistry. Once you are certified with them that basically covers all of that. Then you just have to abide by state laws.”
Wolfe works solely word-of-mouth and has developed a stellar reputation for working with horses.
“I’ve been that way my whole career,” she said. “If I’m not good at what I do, then I don’t want to be doing it.”
Watching her work, she has an easygoing style and a gentleness with the horses she works on. She says that dental care can keep a horse healthy and, in some cases, prolong their life. She also gave some tips as to to signs you can look for to see if a horse is having any discomfort in his mouth.
The horse may constantly shake his head, it may be ornery to ride, it may have a loss of appetite, or it may not be able to swallow it’s food and will spit it back out.
For more information about how you can contact Jessie Wolfe or inquire as to the next time she will be in Platte County, you can phone Birgit Ingle at (307) 322-8151. The entire interview with Jessie Wolfe will be appearing on an upcoming episode of Homespun, Wyoming Newspapers’ weekly digital television program about the people and businesses in Platte County. For more information about Homespun you can visit www.pcrecordtimes.com.