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Gastric Ulcers

This week at Matthew Smith Racing, we have been testing & scoping all our horses for Gastric Ulcers. Matthew ensures to use the technology provided nowadays to test for ulcers. This allows us to treat the horse accordingly on our findings while saving our clients time and money. On the business end of things, a once off scope will cost in the region of $100-$200 while treatment for ulcers could cost you $350 per month! We thought we’d give you an insight into what exactly gastric ulcers are. We will run through the causes of them, the affects they can have on your horse & the treatment we use to get rid of them.

So, What are they?

• In the horse, the stomach is made up of two distinct portions. The glandular portion constantly produces hydrochloric acid for the break down of feed, while the non glandular portion is lined like the oesophagus (throat).
• The non-glandular portion can be easily irritated by excess acid as it is more sensitive. So, if a horse does not eat, the acid accumulates in the stomach and can start to attack the stomach, especially the non-glandular portion.
• Hence, this is how gastric ulcers form.

Causes of Gastric Ulcers

Fasting - Horses evolved to graze, eating many small meals frequently. This way, the stomach is rarely empty and the stomach acid has less of a damaging effect. At Matthew Smith Racing, we follow this trend & make sure that your horse is always nibbling by getting small meals frequently throughout the day!
Roughage – The type and amount of roughage play a huge role in ulcer development. Roughage is very important as it requires more chewing, which in turn stimulates the production of more saliva. The swallowed saliva helps to neutralize stomach acid that causes ulcers. We like to incorporate wheaten chaff into our feed as well as clean, dust free hay so our horses have plenty to chew on!
Amount of exercise - As the amount of exercise increases, there is often a change in feeding (e.g., more times of fasting, less roughage), which increases the risk of ulcer development. Stress can also add to this, which is why it is our duty to make your horse as happy & comfortable as it can be while in training with us.
Medications – Chronic use of anti-inflammatory medications, such as bute, can inhibit the formation of chemicals that decrease acid production. When these chemicals are low in numbers, acid levels are high which contribute to the development of ulcers. Matthew is a strong believer in only administering medications if a horse really needs it!

The Affects of Gastric Ulcers on your Horse

• Poor Appetite

• Weight loss and poor body condition – No muscle tone, poor bone density etc.

• Poor hair coat – no shine, not coating out etc.

• Mild colic

• Mental dullness or attitude changes – No poise or personality on the gallop or in the stable.

• Poor performance – Is the horse enjoying his/her work?

• Lying down more than normal

Treatment of Gastric Ulcers

• Medications and changes in management practices are the cornerstones of therapy for equine gastric ulcers. Different medications are used for three purposes: (1) to decrease acid production, (2) to buffer the acid that is produced, and (3) to protect the lining of the stomach from the effects of the acid.

• Here at Matthew Smith Racing, we have tried and tested different methods down through the years but we believe we have found the best way of approaching treatment. We like to treat our horses with Ulcerguard to prevent ulcers and gastroguard to treat our horses that have been diagnosed with ulcers.

Matthew understands that the treatment of gastric ulcers can be costly for our clients and this is why we continue to strive to prevent them by following our strict management plan. We hope that you have found this article informative & interesting to read. We would be delighted to hear from you if you have any questions for our team. Feel free to contact us via our website, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account.


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