This year the two major sales organizations changed their policy concerning veterinary reports for horses entering the auction ring. Traditionally, a licensed veterinarian had to review the x-rays (which are now filed digitally) and write a report which tended to be short, emphasizing any serious issues. However, there was always a major flaw in the system: the vets themselves. Each veterinarian had a different set of priorities as to what was important to write down. Inconsistencies led to some confusion and some purchasers being misled as to the true condition of their purchase.
This year Fasig-Tipton and Keeneland both changed the system. Now medical reports are required to be incredibly detailed. Anything that may be of interest must be written down. Additionally, buyers have 24 hours to examine their purchases and if any inconsisitences are found with the original vet reports, they are able to void the sale and the horse is returned to the consignor/original owner. FT and KEE still get their cut, so it's basically a no-loss situation for the auction houses (rings? barns?).
However, with all of the information now on the reports, buyers are finding it difficult to sort out the crucial information. Vets that have a part in the sale of the horse (part owner, steady business from a consignor, etc) have an incentive to bury the important information or not even list it at all. But there are several crucial pieces of information that must be conveyed clearly to any potential buyer. So here's my proposal to solve a simple problem:
Section 1 (to be completed by Consignor/Owner)
Question Circle One (1)
1- Has there been a surgery to correct any structural issues with the front legs? Yes / No
2- Has there been a surgery to correct any structural issues with the hind legs? Yes / No
3- Are there any major/recurring health issues that could hinder development? Yes / No
Section 2 (to be completed by a licensed Veterinarian)
Question Circle One (1)
1- Is there evidence of a surgery to correct any structural issues with the front legs? Yes / No
2- Is there evidence of a surgery to correct any structural issues with the rear legs? Yes / No
3- Are there any issues that could hinder development or performance? Yes / No
Section 3 Detailed Medical Report (to be completed by a licensed Veterinarian):
(INSERT OVERLY COMPLICATED MEDICAL JARGON HERE)
Section 4 Radiographs (to be submitted by a licensed Veterinarian):
(PICTURES OF BONES)
With a quick look at the questions (which is not an exhaustive list by any means) you can see if there are any major defects. Additionally, it will allow both Keeneland and buyers to see where the hard stance of the vet and the consignor is (I actually would have a separate form filled out by the consignor/owner, just to prevent outright collusion) and to not allow vets to bury their real findings deep in some medical jargon which still belongs in the report. You can also compile the various vets and consingors/agents to determine who has the best success rates with accurate evaluations; if a report is all "NO"s then you should never have them returned to the seller unless the report is inaccurate.
The new system is definitely an improvement as it actually makes consignors responsible for the medical condition of their offerings. But fine tuning it to make the most important information easier to discern is the next step.