Jenny Pearce

From diablo to giant teddy bear for the horse dentist

Even under a LOT of sedation, Oliver had been very difficult for our previous dentist and without sedation – impossible.  He would fling his 18 hand high head in the air and at the first sign of pressure to try and keep his head down, he was popping his front legs off the ground in enough of a rear to get rid of that scarey dentist.  And even tall Jenavive isn’t THAT tall!

I took this video footage in the moments AFTER the breakthrough – I was too busy managing the situation beforehand!  And by the way this absolute STAR of a dentist is young Jenavive Dore who works around the South East Melbourne / Gippsland area of Victoria.  If you think she might suit you and your horse, you can email her here.

The Keys to our Success are listed below.


We stopped about 5 seconds after the video finished.

So HOW did we achieve this brilliant horse dentist breakthrough?

1.   I told Jenavive that I would pay her for her time even if we didn’t get the job done and that the fear and behavior breakthrough for Oliver was more important than getting the job done.  I think that mindset of being prepared to walk away with the actual task itself half done or even not done at all, is critical to the horse’s confidence and trust in me.  I am not going to allow him to be terrified by myself or anyone else.  I’ve fallen into the trap of not protecting my horse from so called professionals before, and I’m not doing it again.

2.   After the first disastrous visit, when he made it utterly impossible for her to get anywhere near his mouth, I undertook to re-train him before her next visit.  That still didn’t mean he would be good for someone else, but at least there would be some training for him to fall back on.

3.   I sat and thought about all the elements that are needed for a successful dentist visit.  Firstly there’s always going to be some element of pulling on the head to do the dental work,  so we worked on being able to keep his head down when someone was pulling on his head.

4.  I had to be very patient around that – helping him to establish a Comfort Zone around the whole process by being committed to not pushing him further than he could handle at one time.  Think about that folks.  How can a horse develop confidence with something new and previously traumatic, without being utterly confident in US?  So I think this attitude is about more than just the dentist.  Oliver knows he can pretty much rely on me.  But if I had just met him, he would still know from my attitude that he can pretty much rely on me. We talk about the different levels of fear, the Comfort Zone Model, how to help a horse expand his or her Comfort Zone and a simple technique for Releasing old fear and even trauma, in our free lessons The 9 Keys to Happiness with Your Horse.

5.   Techniques are a dime a dozen, so from here on, this is where we can get into trouble if you think that every technique I used for Oliver is perfect for your horse, when we can just about guarantee that it won’t be.  I’ll say that again because it’s SUCH a big deal.

We can just about guarantee that the techniques in the same combination that I used for Oliver WILL NOT work for you and your traumatised horse.  FEEL is MEGA more important than technique. Knowing WHEN to stop, Feeling exactly WHEN to release my ask on the rope, knowing WHAT technique to use next – these are all elements of the Feel that we are so good at teaching here. (No false modesty around THAT lol!)

If you’re new to my blog and you’re a person who WANTS to be gentle with your horse, then you’ll adore 21 Days to a Quiet Mind – Horse Meditations – this little program is the next step to teach superb Feel for your horse.  (In fact I think it’s the only program that does anything like it, anywhere.) And if you don’t adore it, I’ll give you your $47 back. 🙂

6.  Then I broke the job of keeping his head down while being pulled downward, into baby steps.   Could he bring his head down when I stroked the the rope downwards? i.e. a gentle intermittent pressure?  Could he bring his head down if I put just a bit more pressure on the rope?  For a bit longer? Could he keep his head down while I had my hand on the side of his mouth?  While I swiped a finger along his lips just inside his mouth?  Could he keep his head down while I kept my fingers in there a bit longer?  Could I rest my hand on his tongue?  Could I do that from both sides and have him still keep his head down to a bit of pressure on the rope?

7.   And all the time, following the good feelings and using my early warning signal that something was Not Quite Right, to figure out what it is that has to change, to get the result that we’re looking for.  (We introduce this concept of something being Not Quite Right in the free lessons The 9 Keys to Happiness and then do extensive work on developing this feel in 21 Days to a Quiet Mind.)

8.   At some point in that baby step process, I realized that being able to move his feet and move them backwards was a big deal for him.  He kind of got stuck and felt he couldn’t move his feet and that was when he’d want to explode and go up, except I never pushed him that far.  The dentist can drift with a horse who is moving backwards and still get the job done, but it’s impossible when they explode upwards.  And dangerous too!  So I had to teach him to move backwards when he felt under pressure – teach him that there WAS another alternative to exploding upwards.

9.   Over just a little bit of work here and a little bit there, over several weeks, we got to where Oliver could do all those things FOR ME.

10.  Ah but does that mean he can do that for Jenavive?  Just because a horse has enough trust in ME to do that, does not necessarily mean that he’ll have enough trust in someone else for the same thing. 🙂

Enter Jenavive Dore, Horse Dentist extraordinaire.

1.   Yeah it makes me smile too.  She’s worth bragging on – she’s got naturally good Feel AND she was interested in our slightly different approach and happy to flow with it.  The combination was priceless in a difficult situation.

2.   We started with that commitment to Oliver, with Jenavive knowing that I didn’t care how many times she had to come, that his co-operative behavior was more important than actually getting the teeth done.  And it’s my job to pay for that.  Do you get that? It’s not the dentist’s job (or the feet trimmer’s) to train our horse for free.

3.   We did Oliver first, so that we could rest and come back to him if we needed to (and we did).

4.   He pretty well kept his head down for her, so long as she didn’t put too much downward pressure on him, but as soon as the tools came out, “Forget it!”  he said and the head was flinging up in the air and the front legs left the ground one time too. Here we go with that “techniques are a dime a dozen” thing again – so don’t assume that the following techniques will work for your horse.  YOU will have to keep your eyes and mind open to what WILL work in the moment for your horse.   While Jenavive worked her own baby steps and as he chucked his head in the air, I kept variable pressure on the rope to bring him back down again.  And bless him he was bringing his head down to my pressure on the rope pretty quickly.  It’s my FEEL – my connection to Oliver and the Feel that comes from that –  that tells me how much pressure and when to apply it. 🙂

5.   We got to a point where we had taken one baby step too far and had to back off to the previous baby step where Oliver COULD say yes and we quit, took the halter off, turned him loose and went on to the other horses.

I thought he was done for the day, but he watched Bobby and UT have their teeth done with Jenavive’s lovely consideration for Bobby’s painful jaw reactions caused by the last dentist and UT’s difficulty in dealing with the dental gag with no front teeth – got comfort from what he saw and that had him ready for another go.  Bless him he actually walked up and said “Me again, I’m ready.”

6.   This second time, Jenavive encouraged him to move backwards a little (she’d had to encourage UT to move like that too, to help him).  Then she patiently worked some of those earlier baby steps around his mouth with that “encouraging him to drift a little” in her mind, then again with one of her rasps around and a little in his mouth.

Then she got the idea that it was time to push the envelope a little and hang in there with the rasp in his mouth while he drifted backwards a little and bam! – Oliver made the quite sudden energy breakthrough into that relaxation and co-operation that you see in the video.

More important than the task itself

The task itself isn’t finished, we sooo… needed to celebrate and appreciate Oliver’s breakthrough AND SOAK UP ALL THOSE GOOD FEELINGS, so that behaviour will be his new normal next time.  When Jenavive comes back next week to do another three horses, she’ll do Oliver again and I expect she’ll be able to do his teeth more thoroughly.  And maybe it will be that day, or maybe even the time after that before the dental gag goes on so that she can see and feel inside for doing a brilliant job on the teeth themselves.

And we’ll be cool with whatever time it takes, because releasing that old terror and the diabiolical resistance that went with it, was enormously more important than getting the task done and getting this new relaxation and co-operation as the new normal, will save us MEGA time and angst in the future.

You don’t need to be born with the level of Feel and sensitivity of a world class horse person that’s needed to help a horse like this – ANYONE can develop it.  Start with   21 Days to a Quiet Mind – Practical horse meditations.

And if you’re in the Gippsland or South Eastern side of Melbourne – Cranburne, Frankston, Mornington Peninsula and you’re looking for a new dentist, I expect Jenavive Dore might just be your girl.  You can email her here.  Her phone number is 0428 364 387



  1. Carol 07/29/2018, 11:26 pm Reply

    I am exactly in the same place in varying degrees with my three horses, all mares. The 19yr old retired reining quarter horse was terrified of being haltered so it has been a challenge. Lots of catching game and friendly game. Blanketing her in the winter and fly spraying her in the summer has been a challenge. Given lots and lots of time she is becoming more trusting. I have hope that she will able relax more and more. A couple of weeks ago we had a traumatic chiropractic (just the opposite of the expected outcome!) experience with 2 of the 3. I am kicking myself for allowing it to happen. Never again.

    • jennyp 07/30/2018, 4:45 am Reply

      It sounds like they need releasing of old fear and trauma Carol. That’s what we did with Oliver before the dentist. So he already had an enormous confidence in me. I’m so sorry the chiropractor visit was traumatic. How on earth did that happen? It’s supposed to be a beautiful healing experience????
      Fast Track to Brilliant Riding is your answer to all the problems you describe Carol. If you have a look at the program, you’ll see I write about a technique called Release, Relearn and Re-program that, once YOU get the hang of it, is like magic and why we call Fast track a fast track. They don”t suddenly drop the tension caused by the trauma of that chiropractor visit or the tension that can be caused by the catching game done with an attitude of “make” (When it’s done with Feel it’s lovely) or tensions about their rugs or halter. ALL these old tensions are still there in your horse every time you step into the saddle, just waiting to bite you on the butt in all kinds of ways – UNLESS you help them to release that and Fast Track will systematically help you to do that.

  2. Sue 07/29/2017, 3:51 pm Reply

    I too am lucky enough to have Jenavive do my horses teeth, lol when I say ” do” I mean it in the broadest way, she has not as yet unpacked the tools with one of the more traumatised fellows. The last time she was here he did allow her to hold the end of his lead rope, which was a massive breakthrough for him. She so understands the need to make this a positive and pleasant experience for the horse, and I just love the way she drifts around the yard encouraging them to move as much as they need to. Lucky lady is about to meet the two new boys, imagine she will at least get to produce the tools for one, the other is doubtful.
    As you say it is one thing for us to practise with them, but quite another for them to transfer those same skills to a stranger, especially someone who not only looks suspiciously like a dentist, but smells like one too!
    We are so lucky to have a dentist , who is willing to spend an entire session with a horse without actually getting the rasp in his mouth , it pays dividends in the long run, so why on earth would we not expect to pay?

    • jennyp 07/29/2017, 4:26 pm Reply

      Hear hear! 🙂 The context, for anyone that doesn’t know the story, Reuben was so scared of people that weren’t Sue (and he tolerated her husband) that he would leave the farm and head for the mountains if a car that wasn’t theirs pulled into the driveway. They lived way up in the whoop whoop of the Snowy Mountains at the time. Sue had to make an escape bank for him to get away so he wasn’t risking himself on the fences. I wonder if I can put up the photo of him peering out from behind the shrubbery on this comments section? It looks like I can – here goes! Sue's Reuben

  3. Mary House 07/29/2017, 2:19 pm Reply

    As usual Jenny a very timely blog! – I have noticed that young Sierra is ‘iffy’ about her mouth being touched – I am on to it already and now can rub my hands gently round her muzzle, my dentist isnt due for a few months so I have plenty of time up my sleeve but I will get him as soon as I feel she is ready for a rasp, although I have a dental rasp so I can simulate that too

    • jennyp 07/29/2017, 2:23 pm Reply

      Tell us more about the new girl – how’s she going? 🙂

      • Mary House 07/29/2017, 3:53 pm Reply

        Sierra is doing very well, she has been here a week (Check the forum!) So far the only horse being difficult is Sasha! I think you could call it sibling rivalry, so I am now being very careful to give Sasha more or equal attention, plus lots of explaining that Sierra is now living here with us, it isnt just a holiday for her!!. Sierra is happy to be caught though she has some issues around her mouth/nose as the head collar goes on, but we are doing some slow releases on that, she will now stand and release before I attempt to put the head collar on. Most times she keeps her head low but on occasion the head has gone up, but by waiting she will drop it nicely for me. I think the thing I like the most is if I stand with her in the paddock, scratch, maybe rub/scratch her face she will walk with me as I move away, so I have started to give a ‘no dont follow’ signal before I move away if I dont want her to follow. I will have to work out how to put a photo onto the forum
        Mary's new horse Sierra

        • jennyp 07/29/2017, 4:28 pm Reply

          Gosh I’m slack – I’ve been answering my questions, but not been browsing for ages! It’s lovely to hear about a new horse making such big progress as to walk with you already. Email the photo to me and I’ll put it on tomorrow’s Live Seminar web page. 🙂

        • jennyp 07/29/2017, 4:38 pm Reply

          p.s.You might have to make Sascha the senior teacher of this young upstart!

          • Mary House 07/30/2017, 11:35 am

            Funnily enough it was Sasha who instigated the young upstart several months ago – she wanted to do less actual riding on a weekly basis and suggested another young horse might be a good idea – she then proceeded to show me in no uncertain terms that I had ‘holes’ in my program for a young horses education and I needed to fix them pretty smartly…………..I dont think she realised just what it meant to have another horse on her place plus since that was decided Tex has left us for horse heaven, so that totally changed the situation. Sasha and Taff had 5 weeks bonding even closer together after Tex went before Sierra arrived. But yes I have already asked Sasha’s opinion on some things!! Today I restarted the 21days to happiness with the three of then round me.

Leave a Comment