The Equus, the modern horse, evolved from a long line of plains-dwelling animals. Man has found Equus fossils on every continent except Australia and Antarctica. These brilliantly quick and beautiful animals developed a system perfectly suited for a life on the open plain.
Horses Digestive system
The equine digestive system has about one hundred feet of intestine from beginning to end. The equine stomach constantly produces acid because their stomachs need a constant diet of roughage.
In other words, they’re used to grazing all the time. They’re used to eating plants native to their environment, such as grass, leaves, and bark. Their stomachs take the dietary fiber input and break it down to form a kind of mat or web, which helps protect the stomach lining from digestive acid. When acid eats through the lining it leads to equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS). Gastric ulcers are one of the most common causes of equine colic.
The equine stomach is comprised of two sections. The first, squamous region is separated from the second, glandular region by tissue called the margo plicatus. The first region has the highest pH level. The second region creates hydrochloric acid, and, therefore, has a lower pH level.
The first region’s stratified squamous epithelium doesn’t protect itself very well from the stomach acid produced by the glandular region. That’s why the horse forages for foods rich in fiber—not only to aid the digestive process in general and to get necessary nutrients but also to protect its stomach from harmful splashes of acid.
A horse’s saliva provides extra protection from ulcers. The saliva is alkaline and acts as a buffer against stomach acid. The action of consistently chewing and swallowing coats the esophagus with a protective layer of saliva.
Colic related symptoms of equine gastric ulcers
When a horse’s diet isn’t high enough in roughage, limited turnout can lead to gastric ulcers, which in turn cause colic. Signs of horse colic can appear in two stages – Mild stage sees the horse with a poor appetite and decreased manure production. At this stage the horse may curl his lips, be depressed, and may lay down more than normal.
The full-blown, severe signs of a horse with colic include pawing, stretching out, flank- watching, teeth-grinding, stomach appears bloated, abdomen, kicking out, constantly rolling and just not himself.
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