Does your horse have symptoms of gastric ulcers like weight loss, irritability, or indication of discomfort in the flank area?
Ulcers are surprisingly big problem, affecting up to 90% of race horses, 70% of endurance horses, and 60% of show horses!
Fortunately, there are a few simple steps that can be taken to heal this painful condition and prevent its recurrence.
1. Reduce Stress
Just like humans, horses can be physically affected by prolonged stress. It’s no wonder that ulcers are almost ubiquitous among race horses! Transportation, excessive exercise, stall confinement, and being alone are all contributing factors to stress which can trigger excess acid production.
Consider changing your boarding method to allow the horse more pasture time, with other familiar horses if possible. Taking the extra time to allow your horse to engage in natural behaviors like pasture grazing with other horses is especially important before super-stressful events like transportation.
2. Change Feed Type and Timing
Horses evolved as grazing animals, which means their stomachs naturally produce a high amount of acid to help break down rough forage. Horses’ stomachs are also fairly small and designed to pass food quickly into the intestines. Again, this is because horses’ natural behavior is to graze small amounts of food frequently throughout the day. If a horse has an empty stomach for a long period of time–especially during exercise– stomach acid can build up and damage the lining of the stomach. Additionally, large amounts of high-carbohydrate, comparatively low-fiber foods like grain are not a natural part of equine diets, and some studies have shown a link between large amounts of this type of food and increased risk of ulcers. In sum: let horses graze or eat small amounts as often as possible, use alfalfa as feed, and avoid too many grains.
3. Use Sea Buckthorn Oil
We know that in this modern world, the above practices may not always be feasible. Sometimes horses have to be confined or transported, but that doesn’t mean your horse has to suffer! The oil from the Sea Buckthorn Seed has been used in the Himalayas for treatment of ulcers for hundreds of years. Indeed, scientific studies have demonstrated its abilities to balance stomach acid production.
Sea Buckthorn Oil contains large amounts of Omega 7 (palmitoleic acid), which provides a whole spectrum of benefits, including joint, skin, and coat health. In fact, palmitoleic acid’s ability to make horses’ coats shine beautifully has been noted since ancient times!
- Zhou Yuanpeng, et al., Study on the effect of hippophae seed oil against gastric ulcer, 1998 Institute of Medical Plants Resource Development, The Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing.
- Xing J, et al., Effects of sea buckthorn seed and pulp oils on experimental models of gastric ulcer in rats, Fitoterapia 2002; 73(7-8): 644-650.