Texas Horse Teeth Floaters File Regulations Down to Size

February 4, 2011

By Clark Neily

After a three-year legal battle on behalf of horse teeth floaters in Texas, we are proud to say, “Yippee, y’all!” On November 9, 2010, Travis County Judge Orlinda Naranjo struck down the Texas vet board’s lawless campaign against non-veterinarian practitioners, enabling our clients (and hundreds of other hard-working Texans) to continue floating horses’ teeth without bureaucratic interference.

Horses’ teeth grow throughout their lifetimes and must occasionally be filed down or “floated” to maintain proper length and alignment. Teeth floating is an animal husbandry practice that has been performed for centuries by laypersons whose skill and experience often far exceed that of government-licensed veterinarians.

But in 2007, the Texas vet board—which had long acknowledged and approved teeth floating by non-veterinarians—suddenly changed its policy and ordered non-veterinarian practitioners to cease and desist or face prosecution “to the fullest extent of the law.” IJ quickly filed suit on behalf of teeth floaters who stood to lose their livelihoods, as well as horse owners who didn’t appreciate the government dictating who they could and could not employ to care for their animals.

Suing the Texas vet board was like chasing a greased pig—for three years, the board juked and jived, doing everything it could to prevent the courts from ruling on the legality of its new teeth-floating rule. But justice prevailed in the end, as we stopped the vet board’s anti-competitive assault on economic liberty dead in its tracks. Not surprisingly, the board, still beholden to the veterinarians whose livelihoods it protects, has vowed to try again. We say, “Don’t mess with Texas teeth floaters!”

Clark Neily is an IJ senior attorney.

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