Unfortunately gastric ulcers in stalled horses is a very common problem. This is generally as result of stress, lifestyle or dietary issues.
The good news is – you can minimise the pain associated with gastric ulcers with a combination of medication, lifestyle and dietary changes.
Managing gastric ulcers in stalled horses
For some, turnout or paddock time is not an option. However, if possible – it’s highly recommended that your horse gets a minimum of 3 hours turnout time each day. This is one of the first things you can do to decrease the incidence of ulcers.
Mimic natural grazing:
Diet plays such an important role in your horse’s well being.
A stabled horse MUST have access to forage (hay, haylage or silage) 24hrs a day. This mimics their natural grazing habits and is essential for their digestive system.
Constant access to hay has three main benefits for the horse.
Acid buffering: Horses produce stomach acid 24/7. If there’s nothing in their stomach to buffer and absorb the stomach acid – then ulcers are likely to occur. In addition, constant chewing also helps generate saliva, which neutralises stomach acid.
Natural bacteria: The ‘friendly’ bacteria on which a horse’s digestive tract survives needs access to food at all time. Without fibre to digest – these friendly bacteria die off which allows the pathogenic (or bad) bacteria to flourish. An imbalance of bacteria is another main cause of ulcers.
Stress & boredom relief:
Constant access to forage will give the horse something to do. The use of slow feeder nets can help slow down consumption and make the horse work harder to access the hay (ideal for overweight horses).
Treatments : Gastric Ulcers in Stalled Horses
If your horse, however, does, unfortunately, develop an ulcer, there are several readily available medications available.
The most effective treatment of gastric ulcers is Omeprazole (ideally with the supplementation of probiotics). You can read about the current standard for gastric ulcer medication here.