Respiratory Problems and Poor Performance

Vets can evaluate and treat performance-limiting respiratory problems to help return the patient to peak performance.
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Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse
To perform at their best, racehorses need a properly functioning respiratory tract to allow oxygen to reach the lungs and fuel their activity. But respiratory issues are among the most common ailments diagnosed in these equine athletes. Fortunately, veterinarians have methods to both evaluate and treat respiratory problems, allowing many racehorses to successfully return to the track.

At the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ Focus on Poor Performance meeting, held Sept. 10-12 in Lexington, Kentucky, Gary T. Priest, DVM, reviewed endoscopic techniques for evaluating the upper respiratory tract and treatment options for affected horses. Priest is a surgeon at Harthill & Priest Equine Surgery, in Versailles, Kentucky.

The Dynamic Endoscope

Priest began by describing the clinical use of dynamic endoscopy, which is an endoscopic exam that takes place while the horse is exercising under saddle.

He said there are several different scopes veterinarians can choose from, all of which have their advantages and disadvantages; practitioners have their own preference for which system they use, he said

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Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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