Laid Up

One equine injury may lead to another, so discover how you can prevent your horse from getting ulcers.

For riders, stress levels rise each time their horse is injured or hospitalized. However, the stress of equine injuries can take their toll on the patient, too.

Cara Barry-Brewer understands the stresses of competition. She’s a cutting horse trainer, competitor and winner of the National Cutting Horse Association 2004 Open Super Stakes and $599,490 to date, and is listed as one of the top overall riders in 2008. However, after more than 20 years in the saddle and show ring, she also understands the stresses of equine injuries.

“I’ve had horses stalled with suspensory problems,” Cara says. “When that happens, they have to be in a stall for the entire time, and that’s definitely stressful for them. They don’t get to move around -- they don’t get to just be a horse.”

Cara adds that even a common cold can throw a horse out of his normal routine and raise his stress level. Each time a horse is stalled to give him time to recover from an illness or injury, the stress stemming from constant stall confinement can easily lead to equine stomach ulcers -- an added complication for any injured horse.

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“When we’re working through a horse’s illness, I put him on Ulcergard (omeprazole) to help prevent stomach ulcers,” Cara says. “The key is to not stress him or rush him back into training before he’s well: that will only set you back.”

Even when horses are healthy, routine events -- such as traveling, training and competition -- can be stressful enough to lead to stomach ulcers. Injuries can add to the stress level, according to Dr. April Knudson at Merial Veterinary Services.

“Whether injured or healthy, horses are extremely sensitive to stress,” Dr. Knudson says. “But, when a horse is hurt, being confined to a stall, hauled to the vet for a checkup or being taken away from herd mates, the stress can be enough to develop stomach ulcers, sometimes in as little as five days. And, when a horse is already laid up with one injury, you certainly don’t want to add another illness to the list.”

Dr. Knudson adds that changes in diet also can contribute to stomach ulcers.

“A horse’s stomach can produce up to 16 gallons of acid each day,” Dr. Knudson says. “When horses are constantly grazing, forage in the stomach helps create a buffer for the stomach acid. But, when dealing with certain equine injuries that require stall confinement -- especially for long periods of time -- horses may not have unlimited access to hay. Limited amounts of forage in the horse’s stomach can allow acid to build up and lead to stomach ulcers.”

However, Dr. Knudson says, horse owners can help keep all of their horses feeling their best just by using Ulcergard, the only product that works to help prevent stomach ulcers before they become a problem.

For Cara, Ulcergard is more than a helpful product when her horses are temporarily out of commission.

“I always use Ulcergard when we’re on the road,” Cara says. “When you’re traveling to Fort Worth three times a year or on the road for two and a half weeks, that’s stressful for the horse. Plus, it’s important to me that Ulcergard is FDA approved. It shows that the product has been tested -- you know it will work.”

From AQHA Official Animal Health Care Partner Merial.

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