Articles at Horse Nannies

Welcome to Horse Nannies articles, tips, cartoons and stories. You can subscribe for free to receive all the latest news.

Sign up to our newsletters

Get Horse Nannies articles, cartoons and stories.
Type your region and select from the list.


Do you give consent for Horse Nannies International to retain
your email address and location in order to send newsetters?

# Add HorseNannies.com as a trusted email address to ensure emails are delivered to your inbox.

Sign up to our newsletters

Get Horse Nannies articles, cartoons and stories.
Type your region and select from the list.


Do you give consent for Horse Nannies International to retain
your email address and location in order to send newsetters?

# Add HorseNannies.com as a trusted email address to ensure emails are delivered to your inbox.

Equine Ulcers
Added on Fri 21 Jul 2017

Equine Ulcers

As you make travel plans this summer I am sure your horses are at the top of the to-do list. There are a thousand things to consider but I bet gastric ulcers isn’t one of those things.

Believe it or not, your horses experience stress when their usual routine gets interrupted, especially when it comes to feeding time.

So even if you only plan on being gone for a short period, it is very important that you have a horse nanny that can keep your horse calm and, more importantly, on your horse’s normal routine.

As you will see, your horse being without feed, even for a short period of time, can have disastrous effects on its health. Gastric ulcers in horses are more common than you might think.

Research has shown that 80-90% of racehorses, 70% of endurance horses, and 60% of show horses will have ulcers at some point in their careers. Why are they so common? First, we need to look at how a horse’s stomach works.

A horse’s stomach is actually quite small in comparison to other mammals. It is designed for frequent small meals over an extended period. Unlike humans, a horse produces hydrochloric acid twenty-four hours a day. They can produce up to 9 gallons of acid per day! The horse’s own saliva is nature’s best protection against ulcers. However, saliva is only produced when the horse is actually eating.

Next, we have to look at the differences between performance and non-performance (pasture kept) horses. Horses that are kept out to pasture very rarely suffer from ulcers because they have a constant supply of grass and, therefore, produce saliva constantly. In contrast, a stalled horse may go hours between meals.

Some other factors that predispose a horse to ulcers include:

  • The horse’s physical environment, such as, being confined without much social interaction with other horses, increased transport to and from shows, and/or being moved to a new location.
  • The onset of a new illness.
  • The use of NSAID’s, such as, Bute or Banamine at larger than recommended doses or over an extended period of time.
  • A change in diet, such as, an increase in the amount of grain being fed to provide extra energy (as the amount of grain being fed increases the amount of acid being produced increases to breakdown the extra protein, the amount of roughage consumed decreases, and the time spent eating decreases).

Next, we need to look at the symptoms of gastric ulcers in horse, which unfortunately, can often be subtle and vague. The symptoms can include:

  • Poor appetite (the horse may take a bite and step away as if eating is painful).
  • Weight loss
  • Poor body and coat condition
  • Mild, reoccurring colic
  • Teeth grinding
  • Behavioral changes (the horse may be more difficult to ride, resist performing, show agitation when being saddled, have a tucked-up abdomen, and a bad attitude in general)

Lastly, we need to know not only how to treat ulcers but also how to prevent them. Treatment can be costly and involves medicating your horse daily for thirty days with Omeprazone paste (an acid pump inhibitor). Right now, Omeprazone is the only FDA approved treatment for gastric ulcers.

Prevention involves long-term management changes. Such changes should include:

  • Feeding grain in small amounts more frequently (consider feeding 3x a day instead of 2x), feeding hay more frequently (consider 4x a day instead of 2x), or providing feed on a free choice basis.
  • Decreasing the total amount of grain being fed (consider adding alfalfa instead)
  • Keeping a routine worming schedule
  • Providing for an occasional vacation from training and/or competing
  • Allowing social interaction with other horses in a natural setting on a daily basis
  • Avoiding the use of NSAID’s (consider trying the newer ones like Firocoxib instead)

Understanding the causes, recognizing the symptoms, and knowing your treatment options can go a long way in helping your equine partners. However, without long-term management changes it is highly likely that the ulcers will return. Therefore, having a well-informed horse nanny that will keep your horse on its usual routine is very important to your horse’s overall well-being!

Article by Guest Writer Christy R Taylor

Christy lives in Arkansas and has a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science with an Equine Science minor. She has owned horses and worked in the horse industry most of her adult life and loves training horses, some of which have gone on to win barrels and poles at the Arkansas State Horse Show. Christy says she can’t imagine a life without horses. She also writes a blog for an Instagram account, @eqstyletheory link opens new page to Instagram

Send us a comment about this article
You might also like:
Firework Safety tips for Horse Carers and Owners
One of America’s most widely celebrated holidays is almost here and along with it comes the fireworks!...

Sleepless Night
A Guide to Caring for Your Pregnant Mare
For Horse Sitters who are caring for pregnant mares and “expectant” horse owners, here are some tips to consider before the new arrival!...

Guest Writer – Lauren Woodard, Exceptional Horsemanship
Beware the Sideways Glance or Keep and Eye on the Eye. Many people go about their business around horses, turning them out, mucking the stall, feeding, brushing, watering, cleaning this and that. Exac...