IT'S 7am on a misty morning at one of Scotland's top race-horse training centres.
Vets Patrick Pollock and Padraig Kelly are here to investigate breathing problems in horse Full Toss who is struggling to take in air while galloping.
It's a serious issue for his owner – if the horse can't perform at full capacity it can be costly.
But Patrick and Padraig are part of the Scottish Performance Horse Clinic, which uses cutting-edge technology to assess horses while they are moving freely.
The vet school's clinic is the only dedicated performance clinic in Scotland and boasts the most up-to-date diagnostic equipment in the world.
Patrick helped set up the clinic in 2008 to help horses from race horses to Clydesdales and ponies.
The vets are using diagnostic kit called an Optomed dynamic respiratory scope (ODRS) which is used on horses with breathing issues.
For Full Toss, this means a tube with a camera on the end is inserted through his nose down into his throat.
A transmitter attached to the horse's saddle then sends images of the inside of his throat to a hand-held video display that lets the vet see what's happening inside the horse when it is galloping.
Previously, examining horses at rest meant they could be mis-diagnosed – potentially leading to unnecessary surgery.
Patrick said: "Horses can only breathe through their noses and need to take in a lot of air into their lungs.
"Horses can appear to be normal when you examine them at rest – even if there is a problem – so it's difficult to pinpoint what might be wrong. This kit has revolutionised how we diagnose horses."
Full Toss is one of 64 race horses trained at Libohill Farm, Uplawmoor, and is owned by Jim Goldie, one of the country's top racehorse trainers.
Once the animal is kitted up with the ODRS, Full Toss's rider takes him out to the farm's race track and sets him off at a gallop.
Although they are some distance away, Patrick and Padraig can watch what's happening in the animal's throat on the screen.
And it's clear to them that there's a problem with part of Full Toss's airway.
The images are then loaded up on to a computer for the vets to re-asses.
Patrick, who has worked in Australia, America and Ireland as well as parts of Africa, added: "The tube, called a boroscope, is pretty similar to the cameras, say, Dyno-Rod would use to look down a drain.
"It's the same idea but we have obviously finessed it and the more we do, the more we learn."
Before the development of the ODRS, examination for horses with breathing problems was also carried out on a treadmill.
BUT the technique was dangerous for the patient and vets with the risk of the horse, weighing up to a tonne, coming off the treadmill.
Treadmill checks are also expensive, costing up to £700, and can be stressful for the animal.
So far, Patrick has scoped more than 3000 animals and the results will be used to continue to improve the diagnostic equipment.
It's an important development for horse owners as it is much cheaper, faster and more accurate than having the horse put on a treadmill.
During the course of the research, vets have also uncovered several new airway diseases and found ways of making sure horses only have surgery when it's really necessary.
Patrick added: "From a welfare standpoint, dynamic endoscopy is exciting as having an accurate diagnosis of problems to make sure we are choosing the correct treatment for horses is better for the horse, better for the owner and, in the case of racehorses, good for the punter."
GLASGOW'S vet school is world renowned not just for its teaching standards and animal care but for its cutting-edge research.
As the vet school celebrates its 150th anniversary CATRIONA STEWART joins two vets investigating new technology that helps horses