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These are the most common mistakes in feeding horses with stomach problems!

Tanja Dietz


3 Min. Lesezeit

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Anyone who has a stomach patient in the stable knows it. If something gets out of balance, the aches and pains start again. Horses with sensitive stomachs and that are prone to stomach problems are often very reactive to errors in feeding and feed management. Especially in boarding stables, many horses get too little roughage with too much concentrated feed. In addition, the feed quality is usually insufficient.

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As happens in some summers, if harvesting conditions are not optimal, high-quality hay is scarce and expensive. As a result, inferior, structurally poor hay is then fed. For example, a horse may not take in enough raw fiber, which means that it does not chew enough and the acid in the stomach is not sufficiently buffered. Also, time between feedings is often too long. Horses get hay twice, or with any luck three times a day, and the hay is consumed within a very short time.


If horses have access to hay around the clock, they consume it much more slowly and over a considerably longer period of time. Since pastures are usually scarce, horses may have smaller paddocks, in which they rarely have the possibility to eat. If the horse does not have access to a pasture and the ability to graze, hay racks or hay nets should be provided in order to guarantee the intake of roughage.


Owners of stomach patients are often desperate because the sensitive horse is often plagued by recurrences, which have various causes. Various solutions are tried. Every piece of advice is followed, and all kinds of tricks are used to get the new food into the horse. But many horse owners are not aware that this approach often has exactly the opposite effect!


The desired result is hardly given the time to appear. Usually it takes a while to achieve success, and time is often necessary before the horse even accepts the new food. Since the desired result then occurs too slowly for the owner’s taste, the new feeding regimen is discontinued after the supposedly negative result, and new solutions are sought. And that is exactly the problem.


The horse must get used to something new, and before this is the case, the plan is abandoned and the next one is tried. In the case of gastric ulcers in particular, it can take a while before a visible result is achieved. The amount of time required depends entirely on the severity of the ulcers—the more the stomach lining is damaged, the longer it takes for it to heal and regenerate, and for the horse to be pain free again.


It is therefore important to provide the horse with the nutrients it requires, fulfill other natural needs it has, and give the horse time to recover. If the horse continues to be prone to stomach problems, they should be addressed by giving appropriate supplements to which the horse reacted positively during recovery. To prevent possible recurrence, these supplements should continue to be given, even after successful treatment of stomach ulcers.


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