Feeding the Ulcer-Prone Horse

Learn how to craft a diet for the horse with painful lesions in his stomach.
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Feeding the Ulcer-Prone Horse
Because extended periods of time between meals can cause gastric ulcers to develop, make sure stalled horses have access to free-choice hay. | Photo: Thinkstock

How to craft a diet for the horse with painful lesions in his stomach

Which horses would you traditionally consider “ulcer-prone”? Racehorses in training? Western pleasure horses showing competitively on the American Quarter Horse Association circuit? Pony Clubbers’ games ponies? Injured horses on stall rest? Truth is, you could be right with any one of these.

Equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS) can plague any age, breed, or sex, and the risk factors are many—certain types of training and exercise, nutrition, feeding practices, and stabling, to name a few. Let’s take a look at one very important aspect of preventing and managing ulcers: diet.

The Facts and Stats

Does My Horse Have Gastric Ulcers? (Infographic)
RELATED CONTENT: Does My Horse Have Gastric Ulcers? (Infographic)

The Equine Gastric Ulcer Council defines EGUS as a disease complex associated with ulceration of the esophageal, gastric, or duodenal mucosa. Clinical signs can include a reduced or poor appetite, weight loss, a dull skin and hair coat, attitude or behavior changes, impaired performance, reluctance to work, and colic. Researchers have yet to determine a very reliable detection method for ulcers via blood and fecal markers. Therefore, veterinarian-performed gastroscopy (viewing the horse’s stomach using a flexible lighted instrument passed through his nostril) is the only accurate diagnostic test

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Written by:

Kristen M. Janicki, a lifelong horsewoman, was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and later attended graduate school at the University of Kentucky, studying under Dr. Laurie Lawrence in the area of Equine Nutrition. Kristen has been a performance horse nutritionist for an industry feed manufacturer for more than a decade. Her job entails evaluating and improving the performance of the sport horse through proper nutrition.

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