A few times I remember at the Thoroughbred yearling sales seeing a gentleman wander around, making use of handlers while he assessed particulars on horses. It wasn’t until the Melbourne Premier Sales just passed however that I was holding a few of the horses for him and got to ask what it was all about.
Generally as the gentleman went about assessing each horse, he had a good look at the width and depth of their nostrils and nasal passage, the space under their jowl and had a feel underneath here as well as assessing the windpipe and how the neck was placed into the horse’s shoulder.
Curious, I asked what exactly he was assessing. The fact that he had a look at every horse on our draft also had me querying if he was assessing particular horses for clients or just going through the whole catalog.
I was informed that he was assessing the horse’s physical make up with regards to it’s airways and the potential to get oxygen into the lungs when running at high speeds. The idea was that based on how the horse was put together, that he made an informed assessment on the likelihood of the horse running into airway or breathing difficulties when stressed at a fast pace – as is the case for racing.
Based on this assessment, potential buyers had more information to go on, possibly lessening their gamble.
For example, if one was to chose between two horses that looked good on paper and appeared to be reasonably well put together but one physically appeared to have better potential for the passage of oxygen through nostrils to the lungs, then the buyer may choose this horse rather than the one that hadn’t fared so well on the airflow assessment.
As for the number of horses being assessed, as time permitted he made an assessment on every horse and noted this on an item that looked somewhat similar to a palm pilot. This way if clients asked after a particular horse, results were already available to be passed on.
Having not heard of this assessment form before for buyers, I asked if a lot of clients requested such a service. Although relatively new, apparently quite a few do make use of these results. Air Flow on Bloodstock cater to horse sales in Australia and New Zealand, having assessed over 10,000 horses to date.
“He is pure air and fire; and the dull elements of earth and water never appear in him, but only in patient stillness while his rider mounts him: he is indeed a horse: and all other jades you may call beasts.” – William Shakespeare. King Henry V.