Podcast #115 – 80,000 Horses Floated

The Equine Practice Inc, The Horse's Advocate

February 21, 2024

I floated my 80,000th horse this week since my first one in May 1983. I include horses I helped in training others and a low estimate of the numbers I did from 1983 to 1997. So, if you want to be picky, you can reduce this to about 65,000 horses.

But this podcast isn’t about me and the enormous amount of horses I’ve seen for dental care. It is, instead, a call for help for the profession to start listening to horse owners who want their horses treated with respect and themselves fairly. They want dental care for their horses based on evidence, on one hand, and on the other hand, what is in the best interest of their horses.

There will never be randomized, controlled studies with enough horses and without bias done over long enough periods to answer, with a reasonable degree of specificity, the questions asked by horse owners: is what we do necessary and not harmful?

We do, however, have anecdotal evidence that has accumulated over a long time with many horses: 80,000 horses in 41 years. The purpose of this podcast is to say that while there is no proof of the causation of specific dental conditions in horses, abundant observations show strong correlations. With the AVMA pronouncing February as Pet Dental Month, horses (and all farm animals) are not mentioned. This absence is not encouraging.

Many horse owners want an alternative to what their veterinarian offers for the dentistry of their horses. I worry that the horses will go with no dentistry if they decline the advanced dentistry techniques of the veterinarians, who cannot offer both styles. This decision may not be an issue with the declining number of veterinarians electing to work with horses. 

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