Veterinarians from Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital presented information about radiographic images of joints, endoscopic videos of throats, and changes in conditions of sale during an educational forum on issues involving sale yearlings held in Lexington.
The Aug. 16 event attracted a large audience of consignors, horse owners, and others, filling a meeting room at the Embassy Suites hotel.
Rood & Riddle veterinarians have done a number studies over the years involving sale yearling issues and much of presentation involved the results of those studies. The veterinarians also talked about their personal experiences involving young horses.
Pharyngitis, which is inflammation of the wall of the pharynx, is commonly seen in the throats of sale yearlings, according to Dr. Scott Pierce. The condition causes numerous small bumps on the pharynx.
"A little pharyngitis is not a big deal; it's like tonsillitis in a kid," he said. "I don't get too wound up as long as the airway is functioning properly. Most of them (young horses) have it up until (they are) 2. As they mature, things improve and all that goes away."
Radiographic findings in sale yearlings include supracondylar lysis, a narrowing of the cannon bone that is caused by bone resorption. The condition is a sign of the body's response to a problem such as an injury or a cyst. To interpret the significance of the condition, "you've got to look for what was the previous problem," said Dr. Larry Bramlage. If the "previous problem was mild or is gone," he continued, there probably isn't any cause for concern.
Pierce and Dr. Debbie Spike-Pierce talked about how they deal with foals in an effort to prevent problems with their hocks that will affect their prices as sale yearlings if detected radiographically and/or compromise their racing ability. Premature foals and foals whose dams suffered from placentitis are at risk. But even foals that were carried to term can experience difficulties.
"Anything that looks dysmature, we radiograph them before they ever do any exercise or get turned out to make sure those bones are fully ossified," Spike-Pierce said. "If they aren't fully ossified, they can go ahead and compress. If they (foals) are very sickle-hocked, even if they are term, I think you need to radiograph them because they'll compress them (the bones) because they are soft."
Said Pierce: "I've become more aggressive in the last five or six years in radiographing term foals with bad conformation. It's amazing how many abnormal tarsal bones you see. I'll restrict them (foals with such abnormalities) to either a round pen or a very tiny paddock. (Then) I'll re-radiograph them and follow them on a weekly basis. I've probably saved some from crushing (their tarsal bones) by doing that."
Bramlage added that early intervention is important.
"If a foal is a little dismature, you've got joints at risk," he said. "The goose is either cooked or saved, usually, the first month that foal is around."
Dr. Bart Barber served as the forum's moderator and led a discussion about Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton's recent decision to make veterinary radiographic reports part of the required information that is available in their sale repositories. The reports are descriptions or summaries by veterinarians of what is reflected in the radiographs of each horse cataloged for an auction.
The conditions of sale make it clear that consignors are responsible for the accuracy, validity, and authenticity of the reports. The conditions also address what happens if a buyer wants to return a horse based on a dispute with the information contained or not included in a veterinary report.
The forum's speakers answered questions from the audience about the conditions of sale. Some of the speakers talked about how they write their reports and how the conditions of sale would affect their preparation of the reports.
Rood & Riddle veterinarians participated in a similar forum held in New York in July.