‘Milo’ has been losing weight and condition for six months, despite the owner increasing feed, having veterinary exams, etc. ‘Whisper’ has bucked his owner off twice in the last two weeks, for no apparent reason. ‘Harry’ is suddenly refusing to jump. ‘Mo’ is refusing to go into the chute at a barrel race. Poor performance, unhappy horses. These are all real horses that I have seen in my practice. What do all these horses have in common? They all have gastric ulcers.
Research over the last ten years has shown that up to 80% of performance horses may be affected by gastric ulcers. Many clients ask “Why?” They believe that their horse does not have anything to stress him. However, horses are prey animals. Many factors can cause stress – moving to a new facility, a new horse in the pasture or barn, showing, trailering, being bullied by another horse, being the dominant horse and bullying others. Since they cannot talk, it is difficult to say exactly what causes stress in any particular horse. The signs of gastric ulcers vary widely, so they can be difficult to diagnose. A complete veterinary exam is essential to rule out other problems. To make a definitive diagnosis, the horse must be sedated and scoped. This can be a costly exercise and does not always help diagnose ulcers in horses. There are several acupuncture points’ that, when reactive, will have a high correlation with gastric ulcers.
During a routine acupuncture exam, I always check these points. If the horse is sensitive, then I recommend the Omeprazole Granules sold by Abler as a treatment option. There are many preventative products available, but Omeprazole has been the only medication proven to be extremely effective in actually healing the ulcers in a timely fashion. Omeprazole can come as a paste, powder or granule. As a horse owner myself, I found feeding the Abler granules the easiest method of administering Omeprazole. They are encapsulated to ensure correct release in the GI tract of the horse, they appear to be tasteless (my picky eater didn’t mind them), and they are easy to add to feed. I also recommend adding some soaked alfalfa cubes to the diet, since Alfalfa is considered ‘cooling’ to the belly, as well as putting the horse on an over the counter preventative.
The proof of efficacy, in my opinion, is in the response of the horse. To date, I have used acupuncture alone to diagnose over a hundred horses, and almost every one has responded to my treatment protocol. Many horses had underlying issues that needed to be resolved also – such as muscle pain, etc., so correct diagnosis is critical. But I have found this treatment to be extremely beneficial in helping horses. Kudos to Abler for providing an effective, and affordable product for addressing this widespread problem.