Horse Float, Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan

The vet behind the PowerFloat

Ask any horse owner or equine veterinarian about the PowerFloat, and they’ll tell you that the rotary dental instrument is synonymous with equine dental care — an essential tool that’s well known in the horse community.

The PowerFloat was the brain-child of Dr. Dennis Rach, a Calgary-based large animal veterinarian who has always liked solving problems. After graduating from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) in 1970, Rach was the third veterinarian hired at Moore and Sturm Veterinary Clinic in the Calgary area. Today he’s a partner in the highly-esteemed practice, now named Moore Equine Veterinary Centre.

While Rach is a certified equine chiropractor and certified equine acupuncturist, he’s best known for his skill in equine dentistry — an area that’s always been a special interest for him.

“I always tried to do a good job doing dentistry,” says Rach. “The horse has to eat, and its teeth are extremely important, so I never took the easy route, even in the day when you hand floated and it was hard work. I hand floated for 25 years.”

As he ran into difficult cases, Rach began to look for an alternative to the equine hand float – a tool that could cause soft tissue damage and premature loosening of the teeth. When he encountered a very skinny mare with a mouth that “looked like the Rocky Mountains,” Rach set his problem solving skills to work.

Rach borrowed a rotary tool from a machine shop, constructed a plastic guard for it and success-fully floated the mare’s teeth in just a few minutes. Rach made further improvements to the tool and had a stainless steel guard made for it. Rach’s initial invention became known as the Rach Grinder.

After several years of modifying and improving the tool, he patented and introduced his product, the PowerFloat, in 2000. Since then, the PowerFloat has become synonymous with equine dental floating. His company now includes four full-time employees and uses machine shops in Calgary, Ontario and Nevada. The product is distributed by veterinarians in North America as well as Australia, Mexico, Europe and Chile.

While Rach enjoys his role as “the R and D guy” and is continuously inventing more products aimed at improving equine dentistry, he particularly relishes the chance to conduct wet labs aimed at teaching how to use the PowerFloat. “It’s very gratifying to see the confidence of the veterinarians change. They’ll take six horses, and they’ll go from being tentative and not very confident to getting extremely confident by the time they leave. That’s what I find exciting.”

While his business keeps him busy, Rach still enjoys his role as a large animal veterinarian. He finds dentistry work to be the most rewarding aspect for him. “You can look in the mouth and see a mess, and you can just fix everything and make the horse a lot better,” Rach explains.

“You can walk away every time and know that you’ve helped the horse. It’s immediate satisfaction.”

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