Using acupressure to check gastric ulcer symptoms at home

Did you know there’s a way to check equine gastric ulcer symptoms before calling a vet to scope your horse?
Scopes or (endoscopes) are expensive, invasive and sometimes not entirely accurate.
In a widely shared video by Dr. Mark DePaolo, he offers a simple technique to identify equine gastric ulcers at home. It involves the palpation of acupressure points to check for pain or reactions from the horse.

Using Dr DePaolo’s technique to check for gastric ulcer symptoms

Tether your horse in a quiet area, and ensure they’re relaxed. Once they’re standing square – identify the below areas and gently palpate these points.


gastric ulcer symptoms you can check at home

  • 1st point for palpation – Pericardium One.
This point is located where the girth sits. You’ll find it on the rib cage, just behind the front leg at the point of the elbow.
  • 2nd point for palpation –  CV 17.
This point is located in the middle of the sternum, just behind the front legs (by about a hand width).
  • 3rd point for palpation – Bladder 42. 

This point is where the scapular makes contact with the back. The most severe cases will also have soreness where the withers joins into the back.

N.B. Horses with hindgut ulcers will get sensitive over the whole area of the lower back.
If you find that your horse is sensitive in these ulcer points (and it’s not being caused by a chiropractic issue) it’s likely to be a gastric or digestive ulcer.
Here are the steps you should take immediately
  1. Stop feeding inflammatory feeds – sweet feeds, sugary feeds, feeds high in Omega 6s (Sunflower seeds, vegetable oils etc)
  2. Start your horse on a daily digestive supplement. Dr Mark De Paolo suggests a omeprazole product, as it decreases stomach acid.
  3. Ensure your horse has constant access to forage. The best option for this is hay (not lush green grass – as it can be high in sugar)
  4. Offer a small feed right before exercise. This will help absorb excess stomach acid and stop it ‘sloshing’ around during work.
  To learn more about other ways your horse is telling you they’re in pain .




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Horse blogger....I am a horsewoman who has a general interest in horses, love talking about horses' and writing about day-to-day horse care issues.

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