Avenel Equine Group: Pre-sale scoping

As the first yearlings on stud farms are well underway in their sales preparation for the coming New Year, most yearling managers will arrange to have these horses undergo an Upper Respiratory Tract Laryngoscopic Evaluation or “Scope” at the beginning of the preparation.

The Sale Conditions for yearling sales in Australia allow for “Scoping” of horses within twenty-four hours after the fall of the hammer and for the sale to be cancelled if the horse shows evidence of seven specific conditions listed, or any other condition which will cause significant airway obstruction.

Scoping involves the insertion of a flexible endoscope with a camera attached, through one nostril of the horse to the back of its throat. This technique allows a visual examination of the structure and function of the back of the throat while the horse is breathing and swallowing. It allows a veterinarian to detect physical abnormalities as well as signs of inflammation or infection.

Scoping horses on farm just prior to the end of a sale preparation and before they travel to the sales complex is common practice. This allows the manager and their veterinarian to formulate a treatment plan for those horses which require medication prior to travel and allows the manager to give their yearling clients pre-warning of any potential problems that the horse may have.

While scoping horses at the end of the sales preparation is useful, it is recommended as best practice that yearlings are also scoped at the beginning of the preparation in order to detect any abnormalities. This early scope will allow the veterinarian to determine if a horse has any of the problems listed in the sale conditions or any serious, permanent abnormality which cannot be corrected.

Many of the conditions found in yearlings’ throats are relatively minor and respond well to medical therapy with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory treatment. Other conditions require specific surgery to correct. Occasionally a horse will have a serious, permanent abnormality which cannot be treated or corrected. This situation is quite uncommon; however, it is best that the manager and the owner are aware of the condition prior to the sale.

If a minor infection is detected, it can be treated and managed so as not to worsen the condition during the preparation and have the horse fit and ready for sale. If a condition that requires surgery is detected, it may be relatively simple, and the horse may be able to continue the preparation after surgery. If a more serious condition is detected, then arrangements can be made to treat the horse and enter it in a later sale. If a permanent abnormality is detected, it can save the client the expense of the yearling preparation.

When presenting horses for sale no one likes surprises. Scoping at the beginning and toward the end of yearling preparation gives managers a head-start in handling these problems and getting a healthy horse to the sale ring.

endoscope of larynx

Dr David Railton – Director

1989 University of Edinburgh Scotland

David graduated from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh in 1989. Following a year in mixed practice, David returned to “the Dick” to complete a three-year Horserace Betting Levy Board Residency in Equine Studies, during which time he undertook specialist training in equine surgery and also was awarded Master of Philosophy for a project researching chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

In 1994, David moved to Jamaica, West Indies and became the official veterinarian to Caymanas Park racetrack in Kingston. He also ran a private equine practice in Jamaica, where he developed an interest in equine stud practice.

In 1998, David moved to Goulburn Valley Equine Hospital, Victoria where he worked primarily as a surgeon and developed his skills in reproductive medicine including Thoroughbred stud practice and artificial breeding in Standardbred horses. David gained membership of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists in Horse Surgery in 2000.

David joined Scone Equine Hospital in 2003. His work involves equine surgery and stud medicine. David is currently based at Avenel Equine Hospital.