Equine Stomach Ulcers

A barrel-racing enthusiast becomes a believer.

From AQHA Corporate Partner Merial

When barrel racer Jessica Abel of Holton, Kansas, tried to get her American Quarter Horse Flash N Frenchman ready for a run at the Lincoln Barrel Bash & Hawki Futurity, she was unpleasantly surprised.

“When I went to saddle him before the race on Friday, he was extremely agitated and was kicking and biting at me. His behavior was completely out of character; he just is not that kind of horse,” she says.

When Jessica shared his behavior and other clinical signs with her two veterinarians, they both made the presumptive diagnosis that Flash N Frenchman (also known as “Duke”) could be suffering from equine stomach ulcers. Because of the travel distance required to have Duke undergo a gastric endoscopic examination, both veterinarians advised Jessica to forego the diagnostic procedure and try treating Duke using Gastrogard (omeprazole), the only FDA-approved product for the treatment of equine stomach ulcers.1

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“Three-meter endoscopes are expensive investments for veterinarians, so not every practice has one,” says Dr. April Knudson, equine specialist for Merial. “Even without gastric endoscopy, however, it is possible to make a presumptive diagnosis that a horse is likely to be suffering from equine stomach ulcers. By evaluating clinical signs such as a horse’s attitude, behavior, coat condition and eating habits, veterinarians can conclude stomach ulcers might be the problem and recommend treatment accordingly.”

Horses like Duke, who travel and compete, can experience stress, which may lead to the development of stomach ulcers.2 In fact, as many as 93 percent of race horses,3 63 percent of nonracing performance horses4 and 51 percent of foals5 have been found to have equine stomach ulcers.

Jessica started Duke on the 28-day treatment and is happy with the results thus far.

“The difference in Duke has been amazing,” she says. “I can saddle him without dodging his feet and teeth. He is back to his old agreeable self.”

Having Duke feeling his best is important to Jessica, not only because she wants what is best for him, but also because Duke has to feel his best to perform well in the more than 50 barrel racing events they compete in each year. The horse and rider team participates in regional and national competitions throughout the Midwest.

After Duke completes his 28-day Gastrogard treatment, Jessica plans to follow up with Ulcergard (omeprazole), the only FDA-approved product to help prevent stomach ulcers in horses. She was introduced to Ulcergard and the concept of ulcer preventionthrough the Ulcergard Trial Program.

“We have been working with horse owners one-on-one at different show and event venues around the country to educate them about the prevalence of equine stomach ulcers and how to help prevent them,” says Dr. Knudson. “As part of the program, horse owners participating in the selected events can receive two free tubes of the product to try.”

Although like many other horse owners, Jessica was unfamiliar with the prevalence of equine stomach ulcers and how even activities considered normal can lead to stress and ulcer development,2 she now knows more.

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“Having information about equine stomach ulcers, the number of horses impacted and how easily they can occur has been very helpful to me. I now know a lot more about equine stomach ulcers and am committed to helping prevent them before they become a problem,” she says.

For more information about equine stomach ulcers, go to

Caution: Safety of Gastrogard in pregnant or lactating mares has not been determined.

Ulcergard can be used in horses that weigh at least 600 pounds. Safety in pregnant mares has not been determined.

About Merial
Merial is a world-leading, innovation-driven animal health company, providing a comprehensive range of products to enhance the health, well-being and performance of a wide range of animals. Merial employs approximately 5,600 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide. Its 2010 sales were more than $2.6 billion. Merial is a Sanofi company.

For more information, please see

1 Gastrogard product label.
2 Ulcergard product label.
3 Murray MJ et al. Factors associated with gastric lesions in Thoroughbred racehorses. Equine Vet J. 1996;28:368-374.
4 Mitchell Rd. Prevalence of gastric ulcers in hunter-jumper and dressage horses evaluated for poor performance. Association of Equine Sports Medicine, September, 2011.
5 Murray MJ. Endoscopic appearance of gastric lesions in foals: 94 cases (1987-1988). JAVMA. 1989;195(8):1135-1141.

®Gastrogard and Ulcergard are registered trademarks of Merial Limited.
©2011 Merial Limited, Duluth, Georgia. All rights reserved. EQUIUGD1144 (12/11)