Gastric ulcers in stalled horses is a very common problem. The causes are related to stress, diet and lifestyle issues. Some simple changes to diet along with medication will minimize pain associated with gastric ulcers.
Managing gastric ulcers in stalled horses
For some, turnout or paddock time is not an option. However, if possible - it's highly recommended that your horse gets a minimum of 3 hours turnout time each day.Daily turnout is one of the first things you can do to decrease the incidence of ulcers.
Mimic natural grazing:
A stabled horse MUST have access to forage (hay, haylage or silage) 24hrs a day. This mimics their natural grazing habits and is essential for their digestive system.
Constant access to hay has three main benefits for the horse.
Acid buffering: Horses produce stomach acid 24/7. If there's nothing in their stomach to buffer and absorb the stomach acid - then ulcers are likely to occur. In addition, constant chewing also helps generate saliva, which neutralises stomach acid.
Natural bacteria: The 'friendly' bacteria on which a horse's digestive tract survives needs access to food at all time. Without fibre to digest - these friendly bacteria die off which allows the pathogenic (or bad) bacteria to flourish. An imbalance of bacteria is another main cause of ulcers.
Stress & boredom relief: Constant access to forage will give the horse something to do. The use of slow feeder nets can help slow down consumption and make the horse work harder to access the hay (ideal for overweight horses).
Treatment for Horses With Gastric Ulcers
Omeprazole is the recognised treatment for gastric ulcers. Other medications such as sucralfate can be used in conjunction with omeprazole to treat gastric ulcers. Even better omeprazole with and added probiotic will get your horse back in shape.
You can find comprehensive information about medicating gastric ulcers in this article.