You are driving home from your last competition with your little champion in tow. Basking in the glow of the recent win, the last thought you may have is what possible impact might performance have on equine ulcers? What damage might this day have done to your mare’s digestive system?
Sparrow had to get up early this morning, and so did you. Breakfast was rushed for both of you as you hustle to get her in the trailer and get you both on your way. You didn’t even notice that your mare didn’t eat all of her breakfast because you showed up at the barn at an unusually early time to feed. As you drive down the road thinking of the day’s excitement, trouble is already brewing for Sparrow. The empty belly she has from not eating this morning is full of stomach acid that is sloshing all around her stomach in the bumpy trailer. She’s barely picking at the hay bag you gave her because she is stressed already.
You get to the show and park. Unload Sparrow and start tacking her up….your ride time is only 40 minutes away and you need a warm up still. Down to the warm up you go…not paying attention to Sparrow’s show nerves…she gets over them after a good warm up.
Warm up goes great as always and your little steed pulls off not only a bunch of blues, but the high score of the day. You are thrilled.
Once you arrive home, you turn Sparrow out as a reward for her good day. Unknown to you, however, the damage is already done. The excess acid in Sparrows stomach with no food or saliva to buffer it, has already caused an ulcer to form.
The next morning, you notice Sparrow doesn’t seem herself…not wanting her grain, picking at her hay. She’s definitely not her happy self.
Showing horses is stressful and damaging to horse’s delicate digestive systems. Stress, like changing feeding times, changing feed amounts, trailering, being at a strange place like a show grounds and being around strange horses all can be a cause of equine ulcers. Once the ulcers begin, they won’t just go away, and they only get worse with more competition and training.
Luckily there are many different options for treatment and maintenance of equine ulcers. One of the best and most budget friendly, are "blue pop rocks" - blue enteric coated granules of omeprazole.. It comes in nifty little pre-measured packets and can be used in a treatment as well as a maintenance dose. For competition horses, a dose a few days before the show as well as the day of can certainly reduce the risks of ulcers ruining your equine partner’s day!