Include Ridden Exams for Airway Problems in Horses By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · July 6, 2012
The full extent of some airway problems may not be seen if endoscopy is conducted only on unridden horses or even when horses are running on a treadmill. This was the conclusion reached by researchers at the Equine Sports Medicine Practice in Belgium after they compared endoscopic videos made when 129 horses were standing still and then while they were being ridden.
The images showed that 91% of the horses that had respiratory noise and 71% of those referred because of poor performance had some type of upper airway abnormality or obstruction, and many of these problems were revealed in standing horses. However, when the horses were being ridden, these abnormalities were made more intense by various types of rider interference including some degree of neck flexion. Horses examined by endoscope during treadmill exercise would not be expected to show the extent of airway abnormalities seen in ridden horses.
The researchers concluded that, if possible, performance horses referred for airway evaluation should have an endoscopic examination while they are being ridden.