It’s Enough to Give Him an Ulcer!

If your horse does more than walk around his pasture eating grass, he is at risk for ulcers. The equine life of leisure–grazing in the sun on lush grass, no worries about when that ambitious owner will appear to ride or train–isn’t reality for most horses. The demands of training can precipitate a pain in the gut–also known as equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS). Give a horse a job–be it

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If your horse does more than walk around his pasture eating grass, he is at risk for ulcers. The equine life of leisure–grazing in the sun on lush grass, no worries about when that ambitious owner will appear to ride or train–isn’t reality for most horses. The demands of training can precipitate a pain in the gut–also known as equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS). Give a horse a job–be it racing, endurance, show jumping, eventing, or reining–put him in a stall, don’t keep hay or feed in the stomach to buffer acid, and limit his turnout, and you invite ulcers.

Think ulcers are just for those horsey high-stress jobs? Think again. Foals often have ulcers, too.

Owners are hearing the word ulcer more frequently these days. It’s not just because more ulcers are occurring now, it’s that we’re more aware, says Michael J. Murray, DVM, MS, previously of the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center at Morven Park in Leesburg, Va., and now a technical director for strategic development for Merial Equine Global Enterprise based in Duluth, Ga.

“The recognition of ulcers has certainly grown, and some would suggest that there are more than there used to be,” says Murray. “The truth is, ulcers have always been a problem, but only in recent years–with long-enough endoscopes that allow us to get in and look around–are we making the connection with what we see and what the horse’s clinical problems are

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Stephanie Stephens is a USEF Media Award winner and American Horse Publications award winner whose work appears in major consumer magazines worldwide. She lives in Southern Calif., but she splits her time between New Zealand and the United States.

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