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Parrot mouth

From: DBrown

Jessica,

I have been looking for a nice quiet gelding for trail riding for at least 6 months. A few days ago I looked at a gelding that has a wonderful temperment, is very willing and responsive, and is just what I have been looking for. There is one problem though. He has what I believe is called 'parrot mouth', with the upper teeth overlapping the lower teeth. How concerned should I be about this fault? Is it enough reason to keep on looking for another horse? I am concerned that he will have problems eventually (he is only 4 now) with eating. Should I take a chance on him? I have not scheduled a pre-purchase vet check yet because I didn't want to waste time and money if this is a serious flaw. What do you think?

Thanks, Diane


Hi Diane -- parrot mouth is a flaw, but not an important one for a gelded riding horse. Although this horse would probably not do well if he was expected to get his nutrition from grazing, you should be able to keep him healthy and sound through good management practices. He may have trouble eating, and he may eat more slowly than the other horses, especially as he ages. You'll have to be sure that he gets his share of the feed -- feeding him separately would be a good idea. He will definitely be better off with hay than pasture -- turn him out in the field for exercise, but don't count on his grazing to give him any substantial amount of nourishment. Parrot-mouthed horses are not good grazers. In later life, he may be better off with pelleted feed than with grain. Your vet will be able to suggest useful management techniques.

Apart from the feed issue, though, parrot mouth shouldn't present a problem of any kind. You already know that you like the horse -- why not buy him? It's a flaw you can live with, and although it would be unacceptable in a BREEDING animal, you are looking for a RIDING animal -- and he's a gelding anyway. ;-)

Have the pre-purchase exam, and talk to your vet about this horse's long-term care. There are a lot of flaws that would cause me to "write off" a riding horse prospect, but parrot mouth certainly isn't one of them. Good luck!

Jessica

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