How can I prevent the occurrence of gastric ulcers in my horse?
There are many factors in the causes of gastritis and gastric ulcers.
Similar to symptoms, there is no single cause, but rather a combination of several factors that facilitate an occurrence and make it difficult to set priorities for effective prevention – whereby feeding management, which too often includes periods of excessive length between feeding, should certainly not be underestimated.
In addition to availability, rations also play a decisive role: too much concentrated feed may lead to metabolic disorders.
The leading cause, as well as a catalyst for other animal health problems, is stress
Avoiding stress for the horse is an important aspect of prevention – and not only because stress is seen as one of several causes of gastric ulcers and inflammation in horses.
Stress is now a very far-reaching term, but it can basically be described as a disturbance factor in the desired physical equilibrium of the horse. In practice, stress leads to reduced blood circulation in the mucous membranes and increased production of gastric acid.
However, the course for these internal processes is set externally. This includes, for example, a horse "moving away” from his friends – but the opposite can also apply when horses who cannot stand each other are kept in the same area.
Even feed distribution can also lead to stress. Animals love fixed routines and feel good when feeding time rolls around. If feeding is delayed, it can cause stress – in the worst case, competition may develop amongst the horses and no one wants aggression in the herd.
And let’s not forget one of the greatest stress factors for horses:
Clinic stays, with unfamiliar environments and strange smells, on top of whatever is causing it to feel bad. At this point, the person who accompanies the animals also play an important role.
As a trusted person with a calm and level-headed manner, they can relieve the animals of some stress or directly prevent it. Well, we can set aside hospital stress for now: after all, overnight stays in veterinary clinics should not account for a large part of everyday life. But transports, e.g. to events and competitions, can also develop into stressors for horses.
The same is true for training, which brings us back to today’s topic: gastritis and gastric ulcers.
Forced gaits reduce digestion activity and blood supply, while at the same time gastric juices reach the glandless part of the horse's stomach.
This can be prevented through regular breaks between training sessions. Providing your horse a balanced diet is an important part of avoiding gastric ulcers.