He does things a little bit differently that some vets and other dentists. He never uses power tools or floats - he says there is too much risk of damaging the live parts of the horse's teeth. He works on the horses in a way that is comfortable for them, and does not use a stand or harness to hold up the horse's head - he gets down on one knee (he wears knee pads) so the sedated horse can hold its head in a relaxed position. Most horses seem very comfortable with him, and require less sedation than normal. Our very old horse Blackjack needed a loose front tooth removed last year and Mike did it without sedation while Blackjack stood on a loose lead rope - and Blackjack can often be very nervous around men - he wasn't with Mike.
He checks all but two of our barn's horses every year - but if they don't need work at that time he doesn't charge. Last year I believe he only worked on a couple of horses - a number of our horses had been seriously over-floated by our prior dentist and needed to grow more tooth before he could work effectively. Also, he's very cautious about working on our very senior horses - those over 25 - as they're no longer growing new tooth and anything you take away cannot grow back - it's a mistake to get their teeth too smooth as it impairs their ability to chew effectively. One of the main reasons we switched to using him as a dentist was a bad experience I had with my old horse Noble and our prior dentist - Noble was very nervous, even with extra sedation, and because he was chomping a lot and the dentist was in a hurry, the dentist opened the dental speculum too far - older horses have less flexible TMJs due to wear - and Noble's TMJs were injured to the extent that he was unable to chew for a week. Very bad stuff. Therefore we have a new dentist, who came highly recommended.
Mike believes a lot of the way many vets and dentists float horses' teeth, like many other things in the horse world, are purely and simply based on conventional thinking, and have little relationship to what's actually going on in the functioning of the horse's mouth. He's in the process of writing a book on this which will be interesting to read once its done. Mike, for example, doesn't do what some vets and dentists call "bit seats" - he says they make no logical sense in terms of how the bit is carried and adversely affect the dynamic relationship between the horse's TMJs and the front molars. He cares a lot about the function of the horse's mouth and how that relates to the horse's ability to move and carry itself. The TMJs are very important to the horse's overall body function, and obviously to how the horse can carry its head and work under saddle.
Here's Maisie being worked on - he's working on her front teeth which are particularly important to how the whole jaw functions:
And here Maisie is, resting with the speculum closed - he gives the horse breaks while he's working on their back teeth:
Here's Dawn having her turn - she had a number of fractured and chipped teeth in the back - perhaps she's been chewing metal in her spare time! None of these teeth were bothering her, so they were left in place. She looks pretty alert for a horse that's sedated - although she was very good:
The sedated horses were put in their stalls with water but no hay to recover, and then were turned back out for the rest of the day. They didn't have any pellets at dinnertime, but had their hay. No riding either - so everyone got a day off!