Gastric ulcers, (or EGUS) are now recognised as a common disorder in horses and ponies and often be a huge concern for horse owners.
But what can we do to help manage ulcers and keep our horses and ponies happy? Here are some of our top tips for managing your horse’s nutrition when prone to gastric ulcers:
Provide ad-lib access to forage
This will increase your horse’s saliva production which acts as a natural stomach buffer. We recommend a minimum of 1.5% of the horse's body weight (dry matter) per day (for example; this would be 7.5kg for a 500kg horse.)
Increasing your horse's turn out time will help to encourage foraging and in turn the flow of saliva which helps to buffer and neutralise the stomach.
Feed forage or a small short chopped, fibre based meal before exercise
A high fibre meal can help in producing a ‘fibre mat’ which helps to protect the stomach lining from gastric splashing.
Try to spread meals throughout the day
Several small meals are better for your horse's stomach than one or two large feeds.
Provide plenty of water at all times
A lack of water has been shown to increase the risk of ulcers in horses.
Create hay stations
A number of hay stations scattered around around the stable will encourage movement - you could also use double-netted hay nets to help to extend your horse's eating time.
Avoid leaving your horse for prolonged periods without forage
Horses are adapted to graze for up to 16 hours a day, so it's important that you don't leave them without forage for too long.
Ensure you horse has enough energy
If your horse requires extra energy we recommend looking for feeds that have restricted starch and sugar, but have added oil rather than cereals.
Avoid using straw and other stalky, sharp chopped fibre as the sole forage supply
Due to the coarse nature of the fibre this sort of forage may damage and irritate the stomach lining.
Add chopped fibre to every meal
Especially Alfalfa, which has been shown to help buffer gastric acid. Find out more about the benefits of Alfafa here.
Find out more about gastric ulcers on our nutritional pages, and it you suspect your horse or pony may be suffering from gastric ulcers contact our Care Line on 01908 222 888.