New research shows that stomach ulcers can occur within five days in horses exposed to recreational show conditions and activities. The study, reported in the Sept. 1 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA), indicated that seven out of 10 horses developed ulcers when exposed to normal situations related to weekend show travel. These included transportation, twice daily feeding, light exercise and stall confinement.
Researchers and veterinarians have historically associated stomach ulcers with high-performance or race horses. This new study shows just how easily horses can develop stomach ulcers in association with less-strenuous recreational activities such as weekend horse shows or events.
“The research demonstrated that conditions representing typical activities of the recreationally used horse are associated with an increased incidence of gastric ulcers within a short time period,” said Scott McClure, DVM, PhD, author of the study. “The findings reported should increase awareness that gastric ulcers affect a greater population of horses than previously thought.”
The study included a total of 20 horses determined to be ulcer-free. Ten of the horses were exposed to conditions over the next five days that simulated a weekend horse show event. This included four hours of transport to a secondary facility, three days of light training (thirty minutes of lungeing twice per day), twice daily feeding, stall confinement, and a four- hour trip back to the home facility.
The other 10 horses remained together in a paddock at the home location as a control group.
All 20 horses underwent a second endoscopy on Day 5. Results showed that seven out of 10 horses transported off-site had developed stomach ulcers within only five days. Furthermore, two of the control horses developed ulcers, possibly due to the change in herd dynamics after the first group was transported away.
This study was sponsored by Merial, makers of UlcerGard, the only FDA-approved product scientifically proven to prevent stomach ulcers in horses and available through veterinarians.