Did You Know: Equine Gastric Ulcers Impact Stride Length

Reduced performance, including a shorter stride length, is likely a consequence of pain caused by equine gastric ulcers.
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Did You Know: Equine Gastric Ulcers Impact Stride Length
Two out of three performance horses have stomach ulcers, and a study has shown that horses with ulcers have a shorter stride length than those without. | Photo: iStock
No matter the discipline in which you compete, your horse’s stride length is important. Longer strides can mean faster times, bigger jumps, and prettier movement. To get that edge, horse owners often focus on conditioning and joint health. Another key area to focus on is digestive health, specifically with regard to equine gastric ulcers.

The way performance horses are commonly fed, along with the stress of training, showing and traveling, causes acid levels to rise past the glandular portion of the horse’s stomach, leading to ulcers. That pain from sores on the stomach wall can cause your horse’s performance to suffer. Two out of three performance horses have stomach ulcers, and a study has shown that horses with ulcers have a shorter stride length than those without.

“Reduced performance, including a shorter stride length, is likely a consequence of gastric pain caused by ulcers,” says Hoyt Cheramie, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, senior equine professional service veterinarian for Boehringer Ingelheim. “When we ask horses for precise athletic maneuvers—to run, jump, spin, and slide—if they have gastric discomfort, they aren’t going to be able perform as well.”

Preventing ulcers is the optimal way to ensure that they don’t inhibit performance. Omeprazole (a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved product is marketed as UlcerGard) inhibits acid production at the source—the proton pumps in the lower part of the stomach

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