Dear HH: My name is Geoff Tucker, DVM. I have been an equine veterinarian since 1984 and have floated horse teeth since 1983. Since 1998 I have limited my practice to equine dentistry. I have floated over 47,000 horses since 1983 and I remain a horsemanship based equine dentist. I have the credentials and the money to purchase the “modern” equine dentistry equipment and perform “modern” equine dentistry but I choose not to. The main reason is because I do not believe they do a better job. More importantly, I do not think it is in the best interest of the horse.
Your February issue of Holistic Horse discusses whether to sedate or not to sedate horses for equine dentistry. The real question you are asking is whether sedation makes equine dentistry easier for the practitioner and/or the horse.
The primary use of medication in equine dentistry is for the removal of pain allowing a horse to become more cooperative when pain is the over-riding factor in the horse’s behavior. In my practice, I medicate only when one of two things occur: 1) the horse requests it due to his sensitivity to pain and 2) when through a procedure such as an extraction, I anticipate that there will be pain.
The statistics over the last 10 years in my practice show that I need to medicate 1 in every 10 horses I do with about half of those for procedures such as tooth extraction. The number of horses I do in a year on average is about 3500 so about 350 are medicated.
If your holistic definition is intended to reflect the total well being of the horse, then the use of drugs on every horse, the over medicating of a horse requiring yohimbine reversal, the application of a metal speculum even for a short period of time, and the support of the sedated head on a jack stand or ceiling attachments must be against every ounce of horsemanship and holistic measurement known. Furthermore, many of the theories supported by “modern” equine dentists are actually unproven in science, not in the best interest of the horse, and have injured and even killed horses. Specifically, neck injuries from head suspension, jaw injuries from speculum use, and death from incisor reduction.
I am firmly against allowing non-veterinarians the access to and use of legend drugs controlled by law such as the ones mentioned in your article.
My equine dentistry web site is http://www.equinedentistrywithoutdrama.com/ and my Facebook business page is facebook.com/EquineDentistryWithoutDrama
Thank you, Geoff Tucker, DVM, Equine Dentistry Without Drama™
Geoff Tucker, DVM, Melissa Buday, 772-285-3866 for questions, 772-341-6505 for appointments
Editor's Note: We extend apologies to Geoff Tucker, DVM, over his concern that the title of our February/March issue inadvertently trampled on The Equine Practice Inc. trademarked hub service, Equine Dentistry Without Drama (TM).