She was re-examined 4 weeks later and the ulcers were found to have completely resolved. The owner observed that Star now finished all her hard feeds straight away and the frequency of her crib biting had reduced. It was also noted that she had now stopped bucking every time she jumped a fence. As this had been a habit for 5 years it had always been assumed that Star was just a little over exuberant! Six months later Star had also gained nearly 150Kg in weight.
This real case doesn’t illustrate every aspect of equine gastric ulcer syndrome but it does give you an idea of what a major impact it can have on your horse. Studies have shown prevalence rates of up to 95% in flat racehorses, 60 to 70% in showjumpers and eventers and even 30% of children’s ponies.
What causes Gastric Ulcers?
Gastric ulcers are caused by the action of stomach acid and other corrosive elements overwhelming the normal protective mechanisms and damaging the cells lining the stomach. Protective factors include:
· Bicarbonate released in saliva counteracts stomach acidity
· High roughage content in the diet buffers stomach acidity
· Lack of movement reduces the contents splashing around – they would rarely do little more than walk in the wild.
· Frequent eating ensures frequent gastric emptying