Ulcers: Should You Be Concerned?

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Recent research on equine ulcers has revealed that a large percentage of performance horses have either colon or stomach ulcers.

It's a little astonishing: studies show that 90 percent of racehorses and 60 percent of other types of performance horses have been shown to have ulcers. Now new research shows that the stress of travel, stabling and other casual activities can cause ulcers even in backyard and trail horses.

Horses with ulcers sometimes exhibit very subtle symptoms. They may be cranky or react when you tighten the cinch. They may have a change in attitude that's unexplained by other circumstances or they may be stricken with mild colic now and then.

To prevent ulcers, give your horses as much free-ranging pasture time as you can. After all, horses are healthiest in their natural environment.

Feed your horse frequent, small meals rather than large quantities only once or twice a day. This satisfies the horse's natural grazing instincts and helps him digest more efficiently.

Consider giving your horse some relaxation and rest time if he exhibits unexplained resistance.

And finally, if you suspect ulcers, ask your veterinarian about what steps you can take and tests that may be available. Early detection is key to keeping your horse's digestion on track.