Problems involving the upper airway are a common cause of decreased athletic performance. The treadmill allows the clinician to examine the upper airway of an equine athlete while it is exercising at high speed. This type of dynamic evaluation is very useful in determining if the horse has an upper airway abnormality affecting performance. There are certain abnormalities of the upper airway that only become evident during exercise and will not be seen during a resting endoscopic evaluation. The examination is tailored to the type of work and the level of fitness for each horse, mimicking the speed and distance that the horse typically works. The endoscopic examination is recorded and evaluated in slow motion so that subtle abnormalities are identified.
This video explains the process of acclimating horses to the treadmill and shows examinations of a Thoroughbred, Standardbred and Hackney Pony on the treadmill.
**The whip employed during an exam is used to hit the bars of the treadmill, not the horse. The noise of it hitting the bar is adequate to encourage the horse to move forward in the absence of a rider.