Issue of Disclosure Brings Full House to Kentucky Farm Managers Meeting

The hot button issue of full disclosure of veterinary procedures of horses being offered at public auction brought out a full house at the Nov. 2 Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers Club meeting. A panel discussed such issues, as the type of information buyers should be made aware of when purchasing a horse, and the importance of educating new buyers on veterinary terms and procedures.

The panel included Rob Whiteley, Dr. Paul Thorpe, Mike Ryan, Tom VanMeter, Dr. Stuart Brown, and Dr. Chet Blackey.

Sales Integrity Task Force chairman Cot Campbell was originally scheduled to speak along with other task force members, but Campbell, in a written statement to the membership, said being involved in a panel discussion would be inappropriate while members work on a position paper. The task force is scheduled to meet Nov. 19.

The variety of speakers outlined their differing personal and professional concerns of when disclosure should be mandatory and what types of information should disclosed.

Whiteley, speaking as both a buyer and consignor, broke the auction market into four major groups -- breeders, consignors, buyers, and sales companies -- with each have a unique responsibility to work with one another. He also cited veterinarians and bloodstock agents as being important to the process, but having very little invested in the business, while having a huge influence on the decisions that are made.

"Everyone in these six groups have a responsibility and should be held accountable," he said. "The breeders, their agents, and consignors, in my opinion, should be required to disclose any procedures or condition that has been conclusively shown by research or any other compelling evidence to be harmful to a racing prospect."

Whiteley continued by saying that all buyers should be responsible by aligning themselves with honest people, and agents should be responsible for informing themselves about veterinary conditions and issues related to research so they can play a meaningful role in the selection process with their less-informed clients.

VanMeter, speaking as a consignor and buyer, said while he did not believe in mandatory disclosure he believes all consignors should truthfully answer all questions from buyers concerning all procedures. He added very few buyers ask questions relating to procedures. "My perspective will be different, but I believe that buying horses is an art," he said. "I do think we need to educate our buyers."

Brown, speaking from a consignor veterinarian point of view said, "The responsibility of veterinarians is paramount to spend a lot of time educating clients, whether they are consignors or buyers. It is important that veterinarians spend a lot of time educating those people on what degree of risk they are undertaking. There is not the perfect horse out there for someone to go looking for at these sales.

"My feeling is there is concern of where this discussion leads in the terms of the amount of disclosure."