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 is 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.
Many of the abnormalities 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, fortunately this is quite uncommon.
While "Scoping" horses at the end of the sales preparation is useful, it 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.
If a minor infection is detected at this stage 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 at this stage it can save the client the expense of the yearling preparation.
When presenting horses for sale no one likes surprises. "Early Prep Scoping" gives managers a head start in managing these problems and getting a healthy horse to the sale ring.