Are you wondering why your horse gets ulcers, yet your friend’s horse doesn’t? Two horses, both geldings, the same age, same feed, same turnout schedule, both event at novice level, yet your horse has ulcers and the other does not. Personality plays a large role in whether your horse will suffer from ulcers. You may be thinking that only high energy, nervous horses get ulcers, but this is not always the case.
The Nervous Nelly
Tally is your typical nervous nelly. She sees something that looks slightly menacing (i.e. a patch of grass that may or may not be hiding an alligator), and you can feel her heart pounding on your inner leg. The sweating starts, she starts dancing, because the alligator is definitely going to eat her at any moment, all the while you just hope that she doesn’t bolt from full blown panic. Tally shows her stress. Sound familiar? Poor Tally is a prime candidate for ulcers.
The Silent Sufferer
Oliver is not a spooky horse. Water? Flower boxes? Turkeys running wild? No problem. Shows and clinics, this horse is more calm off the farm than at home. Oliver suffers silently. He does not show his stress, but the signs of ulcers can still be found. His coat is dull, he cannot gain weight, his topline is poor despite being in proper exercise, and he hates when the girth is tightened. Those horses who suffer silently are often the ones that can go months, if not years, undiagnosed. They eat their food, they do their job, but something is just not quite right. Oliver does not show his stress by spooking or sweating, instead, he internalizes. Thus, Oliver is also a prime candidate for ulcers