Merial Champions Summit

Horsemen and AQHA partners share ideas on horse health care and more.

From AQHA Corporate Partner Merial

Ten AQHA Professional Horsemen and their guests recently gathered in the Napa Valley region of California to network with AQHA corporate partners. During the multi-day event, sponsored by Merial, representatives from Bank of America/Merrill Edge, Markel Insurance Company, Farris Law Firm, AQHA and Merial provided insights on topics such as farm and horse mortality insurance, equine law, investing and retirement planning, profitability and expense management, horse welfare, the future of the Professional Horsemen’s group and equine health care.

“Trainers have such busy schedules and rarely have the time to network outside of horse shows,” says Beckie Peskin, senior product manager, equine for Merial. “This was a great opportunity for them to learn from each other and AQHA partners, and for the partners to learn more about their unique needs.”

“It was an amazing, out-of-the-box weekend with tremendous results and many direct resulting actions,” says AQHA Professional Horseman Pete Kyle, who owns and operates Kyle Ranch with his wife, Tamra. “The time and ability to confer with other professionals on so many topics, especially small business directions and practices, was invaluable.”

While the information the trainers took away regarding their businesses was worthwhile, so was what they learned about health care.

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“All the trainers in attendance have a number of competitive and show horses in their care, so they were very interested in enhancing their knowledge of good overall equine health care,” says Dr. Megan Green, manager of large animal veterinary services for Merial.

One of those aspects is equine stomach health, which can be negatively affected by equine stomach ulcers. As Dr. Green explained during her presentation, horses are particularly susceptible to ulcers because of their stomach’s anatomy.

“Horses secrete stomach acid 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That acid can build up in the stomach, leading to ulcer formation, which can ultimately affect the horse’s overall health and performance in a negative way.”

Although many of the trainers in attendance were aware of the possibility of horses suffering from stomach ulcers, not all of them knew the prevalence. In fact, a study showed that two out of three non-racing performance horses1 have ulcers. The stressors associated with showing, such as training, traveling and trailering, can lead to their development.2

Dr. Green went on to explain how to treat and prevent ulcers with the use of the Merial products Gastrogard (omeprazole) and Ulcergard (omeprazole). “The main ingredient in both Gastrogard and Ulcergard is a patented formulation of omeprazole, which suppresses acid production in a horse’s stomach. If a horse has been diagnosed with ulcers, a course of Gastrogard should be used to treat them.3 Following that, ulcers can be prevented from reoccurring with the use of Ulcergard.”2

Attendees had the opportunity to demonstrate what they had learned about equine stomach ulcers by engaging in a team competition to recreate the equine stomach (both with and without ulcers). The afternoon got lively, with three teams vying to be named “champions.” Their creations used construction paper, pipe cleaners, markers, pom-poms, Silly String and a variety of other items from a hobby store.

“While all the teams did an excellent job re-creating the equine stomach and demonstrating their understanding of equine stomach ulcers, the winning team differentiated themselves by treating the ulcers with Gastrogard and better yet, explaining how they can be prevented with Ulcergard,” Dr. Green says. “That’s exactly how the products are intended to be used.”

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Dr. Green and Denise Farris, esquire, also stressed the importance of using products that have been approved by the Food & Drug Administration because of safety, product efficacy and liability concerns when it comes to the horses in their care.

“Unfortunately, there are many drugs on the market that have not been through the rigorous FDA approval process, which means they have not been tested for safety and effectiveness,” Dr. Green says. “Understanding the mechanism of action of these various types of drugs is essential. Some products, although they may be less expensive initially, may only mask the clinical signs, or may not work at all. Ultimately, a product that doesn’t work is the most expensive of all.”

“Merial is excited to be the catalyst for this type of event, and we plan to do more in the future,” Beckie says. “Any time you can get a group of professionals together in one place to share, brainstorm and network, good things happen for the industry and for the horses in their care.”

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 6,000 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide. Its 2012 sales were $2.8 billion.


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.

®Ulcergard and Gastrogard are registered trademarks of Merial. ©2013 Merial Limited, Duluth, GA. All rights reserved. EQUIUGD1325 (06/13)

1Mitchell RD. Prevalence of gastric ulcers in hunter/jumper and dressage horses evaluated for poor performance. Association for Equine Sports Medicine. September 2001.
2Ulcergard product label.
3Gastrogard product label.