8.1.2 Questions regarding the intended use of the animal
There are a number of questions regarding the intended use of the horse which are particularly important. These are summarised in Table 8.1. The horse's recent performance history may be a helpful guide if it is given on reliable authority, particularly if it is documented through the results of competition. It is also important to establish whether, in the future, the horse will be required to perform similar work to its present use or whether future athletic demands will be more arduous. Early tiring is much the most likely presenting sign in animals with valvular heart disease. Cardiac abnormalities present a hazard to safety when animals tire and then fall or take a bad step. If a valvular abnormality is present, the greatest risk is taken in expecting the horse to do more arduous work than it already performs.
It is pertinent to consider how long the animal will be used by the prospective purchaser. This is an important consideration because if the animal is likely to be sold on, the same finding may be made at a subsequent purchase examination resulting in difficulty in making a sale, or a reduction in value.
Another important question is whether the prospective purchaser intends to insure the horse. If significant clinical findings are made, exclusion clauses may be placed on future insurance or the owners may be unable to obtain cover. It is worthwhile pointing this out to prospective purchasers.
A final and difficult question concerns the experience of the prospective rider. If a horse with a recognised cardiac problem which may result in poor exercise tolerance is ridden by an inexperienced rider, they may fail to recognise that the horse is getting unacceptably tired and continue riding when it would be wise to stop. Animals with conditions such as mitral regurgitation may be unsuitable for these riders.