Guidelines pertain only to the Upper Respiratory Tract)

These guidelines are for post-sale examination and the reporting of upper respiratory endoscopy evaluations. For the purpose of this examination, “upper respiratory endoscopy” does not include the trachea.

1. Endoscopy of subject horse will be done at rest in the stall.
2. Restrain with a twitch or lip chain; if restraint is removed during the examination, make notation on certificate and document any differences in function observed.
3. Pass the endoscope up either nostril.
4. Stimulate a swallowing reflex and/or perform nasal occlusion to assist in evaluation of pharyngeal and laryngeal function.
5. Observe for anatomical form and function of upper respiratory structures.
6. If a chemical restraint is needed, document the drug and dosage. Re-examination of the horse is suggested if chemical restraint has been used or is suspected.
7. Document endoscopic observations and other pertinent findings on an appropriate certificate or suitable reporting form.

Conditions which should be considered unacceptable and should constitute grounds for rejection on the day of examination include, but are not limited to:

1. Laryngeal hemiplegia.
2. Laryngeal hemiparesis with incomplete abductor function.
3. Epiglottic entrapment.
4. Persistent DDSP.
5. Arytenoid chondritis.
6. Subepiglottic cyst.
7. Soft palate cyst.
8. Rostral displacement of the palatopharyngeal arch.
9. Nasopharyngeal cicatrix.
10. Space occupying lesions or malformation which compromise the diameter of upper respiratory tract.
11. Cleft palate.

In the event of a dispute between the buyer’s veterinarian and the consignor’s veterinarian, the AAEP recommends that three veterinarians without conflicts of interest be drawn from an arbitration panel to adjudicate such dispute. The arbitration panel should consist of a pool of eight or more veterinarians and could be established in specific geographic areas by local equine practitioner organizations or equine sales companies. Criteria for selection would be based upon experience and expertise. The three veterinarians mutually selected by the buyer and consignor would have no knowledge of either the horse, buyer, or consignor.

Another acceptable method is to have five veterinarians selected from the pool; three examiners would then be picked from these five by a blind draw. They will examine the horse together and collectively determine the acceptance or rejection of the subject horse. Concurrence by two of the three examiners will be conclusive in such cases. Some conditions are generally considered an acceptable variation of normal, but at times may be viewed to affect the ability of the horse to perform its intended use.

Conditions that may elicit concern regarding suitability for racing include the interpretation of:

1. Intermittent DDSP.
2. Hypoplastic epiglottis.
3. Larygeneal hemiparesis with complete (full) abductor function.
4. Variations of epiglottic contour.
5. Pharyngeal lymphoid hyperplasia.
6. Mucopurulent discharge from guttural pouch.
7. Nasal septum deviation.

Detailed diagrams and descriptive terms of the pathology noted should be a part of the examining veterinarian’s records only. The certificate issued by individuals or the arbitration team to the sales companies or owners should be a generalized statement of the condition without implied warranty for future athletic potential of the subject horse at the time of the examination and should be prefaced by the phrase “In my opinion.”

Other recommendations from the AAEP include:

1. That sales companies obtain a consent form signed by both consignors and buyers to agree to the consent of an arbitration panel and their binding conclusion thereof.
2. That sales companies attempt to institute a uniform agreement among consignors regarding pre-sale examinations on the sales grounds. It was the consensus of the subcommittee that either pre-sale examinations be uniformly allowed or
disallowed, so as to establish conformity for consignors and buyers without allowing a selective advantage in the sales process to selected individuals.

Reviewed by AAEP board of directors in 2010.

Resource Type

  • Position Statements


  • Imaging
  • Purchasing a Horse
  • Racing
  • Respiratory Conditions
  • Thoroughbred Horses

Publish Date

January 1, 2010