Sharing Ideas

Merial hosts the second annual Champions Summit so AQHA Professional Horsemen can learn more about horse health, best business practices and more.

From AQHA Corporate Partner Merial

A group of AQHA Professional Horsemen and their guests recently gathered in Nashville, Tennessee, to network with AQHA partners and one another. During the multi-day Champions Summit, sponsored by Merial, representatives from Bank of America/Merrill Edge, Markel Insurance Company, Farris Law Firm, AQHA, SmartPak and Merial provided insights on topics such as farm and horse mortality insurance, equine law, investing and retirement planning, profitability and expense management, the future of the Professional Horsemen’s group and equine health care.

“This is the second year we have provided this opportunity to a group of AQHA trainers, and again, it was very well-received,” says Beckie Peskin, senior product manager, equine, Merial. “The horse training business model is very unique such that only fellow horse trainers can understand. This event helps trainers focus on the many facets critical to the health of their business.”

Beckie says that ultimately, the entire equine industry benefits from this type of event. “No matter what type of business someone is in – real estate, banking, horse training – it is important to step back, share best practices and evaluate the way you operate on a day-to-day basis.”

Professional Horsemen in attendance at this year’s event included Chris Arentsen, Jon Barry, Brad Kearns, Whitney Lagace, Steve Meadows, Rob Meneely, Keith Miller, Jim and Deanna Searles, Adam Wainscott and Blake Weis.

Corporate Sponsor Merial has great products for treating ulcers in horses. Learn more about equine stomach ulcers by downloading AQHA's FREE Stomach Ulcers in Horses Report.

The Searles, who own and operate Circle S Ranch, say it was a worthwhile experience.

“We think that anyone who has the chance to attend one of these events should,” Jim says. “The summit really provided us with some important business strategies to think about.”

Besides getting business-related information, attendees also learned about good equine health care.

“Ultimately, trainers are evaluated based upon how well the horses in their care perform in the show pen or on the race track,” Beckie says. “Proper nutrition and a comprehensive, proactive health care plan are very important contributing factors to performance.”

One of the cornerstones of good equine health care, especially for competitive horses, is the prevention of equine stomach ulcers, which occur in two out of three competitive horses.1

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,” says Dr. Meg Green, manager, large animal veterinary services, Merial, who spoke at the event.

Dr. Green explained that the stressors competitive horses are exposed to, including training and traveling,2 can lead to the development of ulcers. She also shared 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) using craft materials. The afternoon got lively, with three teams vying to be named champions. Ultimately, the team comprised of Brad Kearns, Whitney Lagace, Jon Barry, Mary Meneely and Steve Meadows was victorious.

Want to learn more about equine stomach ulcers? Download AQHA's FREE Stomach Ulcers in Horses Report and discover what you can do to care for your horse.

Dr. Green and Denise Farris, founder of the Farris Law Firm, which specializes in equine law, 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 products 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 said. “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 looks forward to continuing to host summits,” 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 6,200 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide with close to $2 billion of sales in 2013.


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. ©2014 Merial Limited, Duluth, GA. All rights reserved. EQUIUGD1423 (06/14)

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.