Yesterday, Dr. Jonathan Featherstone, South Ridge Veterinarian Hospital, came out to the barn to examine Tuff, administer vaccinations, pull a new coggins and float his teeth. Wow, what a shock I had when Dr. Featherstone opened Tuff’s mouth. Yikes, what in the world was that ulcerated looking thing up underneath his lip? And look at the ugly yellowish gunk around his teeth. I had to pull out my “cheater” glasses to get a good look at this mess. After closer examination, we could tell there were small hair like burrs embedded in Tuff’s gums. The dark red spot was an infected area. Dr. Featherstone identified this irritation as “Foxtail” which is found in hay. The seed heads are the problem as it gets in the horses gums and will cause an infection.

I felt so bad for Tuff. When I got him 3 weeks ago he had projectile diarrhea, poor weight and now Foxtail. I immediately denied responsibility for “my hay” having Foxtail in it!  Surely he was fed crappy hay at his previous home.

Well, after realizing that I needed to, at the very least, go look at my hay, I discovered that it was my hay! Yes, there it was in my new round bale that I purchased from a local grower.   Ugh! I had to hook up the back blade to the tractor and pull/push that hay out of the pasture.

There is so much responsibility that comes with horse ownership. I’m sorry to say that I probably would not have discovered Tuff’s discomfort until I either started him under saddle, or he showed signs of being sick from the infection spreading.


Dr. Featherstone extracted and scraped all the Foxtail from my new little gelding’s mouth. We decided not to put him on antibiotics right now. The mouth is very good and quick at healing, so I’m going to watch the progress for 48 hours and see how he does healing his own body.

So, here is the lesson for all of us, examine your horse, at least once a week. Don’t just dump the feed, fill the water buckets and leave. Run your hands all over the horse and make sure all is well, and yes, every once and a while, take a look in their mouth.