High-intensity training causes gastric ulcers in horses through a combination of gastric splashing, diet, lifestyle and stressors.
Whether horse racing, eventing, endurance, dressage, barrel racers all involve a rigorous workload.
Gastric ulcers account for the 90% of the cases of the horses taken to the vet for treatment. When the horse is subjected to rigorous training and a huge workload, it experiences various factors that result in the formation of the ulcers.
When a horse participates in high intensity exercise, their stomach contracts and the acid splashes up onto the non-protected area of the stomach. This is what’s known as gastric splashing. Read this article to find out more about Gastric Splashing and how to prevent it.
Change in feeding
When a horse involved in rigorous training and workload, it is likely to develop gastric ulcers. If a horse is in training for long hours a day, this regime disrupts the feeding pattern.
Instead of grazing on low energy forage (as they would in the wild) the performance horse’s diet is modified to suit an intense workload.
Hence taking up the time that the horse should have been feeding. In fact during these periods of training the horse is experiencing hours of fasting. How this can become worse is if the horse is fed a diet with less than the normal roughage required. What this leads to is increased digestive acid in the stomach of the horse that destroys the lining of the stomach causing ulcers.
Running on empty
Rigorous training and workload may cause gastric ulcers in horses as the duration of a longer period with an empty stomach. Due to increased activities a lot of energy of the horse is used hence emptying the stomach faster than it happens normally. During this time, the stomach remains empty hence acid in the stomach which lacks anything to digest and leads to destruction of the stomach lining resulting in gastric ulcers.
Rigorous training and workload may cause gastric ulcers in a horse as it increases the stress in the horse. Increased stress affects the flow of the blood in the stomach region hence exposing it to activities of the digestive acid leading to gastric ulcers.