Gastric ulcers are one of the most common issues affecting performance horses. Aside from causing pain & discomfort to horses – it’s one of the main reasons that competitive horses are unable to reach their full potential. However, there are medications and lifestyle modifications you can make to treat and prevent gastric ulcers occurring.
Causes of ulcers in performance horses
Modern horse management
Confinement (i.e. stabling), limited grazing, diet modification and removal from a herd environment are all causes of gastric ulcers in horses.
Stress as a cause of ulcers in performance horses:
Stress is more than just feeling nervous. It is a complex reaction of chemicals in the horse’s body. For many competitive horse owners its not possible to avoid all causes of stress for horses. I.e travel, competition and stabling can all contribute to a horse’s stress levels. However, there are a few pre-emptive measures you can make to minimize stress on your horse. You can read more about stress and ulcers here.
Gastric Splashing as a cause of ulcers in performance horses:
High intensity exercise combined with the design of a horse’s stomach is a recipe for gastric ulcers. To find out more about gastric splashing – read this article.
Symptoms of ulcers in performance horses
While there are common signs of ulcers in horses like:
- Reduced feed intake or poor appetite
- Loss of condition
- Rough or poor hair coat
- Poor performance
- Changes in behaviour and attitude – this may be either an increase in fear and flightiness or dull and quiet.
To find out specific symptoms for gastric ulcers in horses and to see how you can diagnose them – read more information here.
Managing ulcers in Performance Horses
- Provide constant access to forage (hay, haylage, silage or grazing).
- Modify the horse’s diet to minimise starchy & sugary feeds.
- Feed a small feed prior to exercise to prevent gastric splashing.
- In unavoidable situations like travel or competition, provide a coating medication like Absucralfate to provide a protective lining to the stomach.
- Treat existing ulcers with a 28 day course of AbPrazole – and follow up with maintenance dose as outlined in this article.
In summary, the occurrence of gastric ulcers in performance horses is quite high and care and caution is required to ensure they don’t suffer this painful condition, as much as possible.
Dietary measures can help with the prevention of ulcers such as those discussed above but often a high quality ulcer treatment. Omeprazole is the active ingredient for gastric ulcer treatments. You will find a range Omeprazole based gastric ulcers treatments that will suit your performance horse at Abler.com