Shez Got A Temper? No, She Had an Ulcer
How identifying and treating this horse health problem turned this American Quarter Horse around.
March 27, 2013
From AQHA Corporate Partner Merial
When the mother-daughter team of Brenda Livengood and Corinne Livengood Schnur of Sarver, Pennsylvania, bought the registered American Quarter Horse Shez Got A Temper (aka “Neko”) as a yearling, they knew they were taking a gamble. But little did they know how big of a gamble it would become.
Years later, when they put Neko under saddle, Brenda and Corinne began to see the hint of problems. The mare wasn’t as consistent as they would have liked – performing well one day and poorly the next. But most troubling of all was her lack of appetite.
“We tried every concoction, every type of feed, every old wives’ tale. We tried everything we could to try to put weight on her. She was on the best feed and multiple supplements,” Brenda says. “But she simply did not show much interest in eating. The worst was when we started showing her. During a multi-day show, she would visibly
look thinner by the second or third day.”
Besides not eating, the mare showed more and more signs of discomfort.
“At shows, Neko was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. She would be winning one minute, and the next she was a bucking bronco you couldn’t stay on,” Brenda says. “But that wasn’t all; her coat and body condition were also deteriorating.”
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After months of frustration and consultations with veterinarians, the mare actually laid down, saddle and all, during a lesson. This time, a different veterinarian assessed the mare and made a presumptive diagnosis of stomach ulcers. She was immediately put on a course of Gastrogard (omeprazole).
“It isn’t often that a horse will have such obvious signs as poor eating habits, poor body condition and poor performance, especially to the point they are lying down,” says Dr. Hoyt Cheramie, manager of Merial Large Animal Veterinary Services. “We know that nearly two out of three nonracing performance horses have ulcers,1 but the only way to definitively diagnose those ulcers is through gastroscopy. In this particular case, a veterinarian was able to pick up on the clinical signs and make a presumptive diagnosis.”
While Brenda and Corinne didn’t have a gastroscopy performed on Neko, they are convinced the mare did have ulcers. Why? Because after treating her with a course of Gastrogard, Neko became a “new horse.” Gastrogard is the only product proven and Food and Drug Administration-approved to treat equine stomach ulcers.2
“I could not believe it,” Brenda says. “She was a completely different horse after the Gastrogard. Turns out she was an easy keeper after all. And, she was very willing to do anything we asked of her in training and in the show ring. Although she is not on Gastrogard anymore, she does get Ulcergard (omeprazole) a few days before and during shows to prevent the ulcers from recurring.”
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“Once ulcers have been treated, they can recur,” says Dr. Cheramie. “So for horses that are exposed to situations that might be stressful, including training, trailering and being in new environments, it’s important to prevent them from coming back.”
Ulcergard is the only product proven and approved by the FDA to prevent equine stomach ulcers.3 According to Dr. Cheramie, giving a horse Ulcergard a few days before a stressful event and continuing the doses during a stressful event, can help prevent them.
Now that Neko is feeling better, she’s able to compete in a number of disciplines on the AQHA circuit with Corinne, including showmanship, horsemanship, working hunter, trail, hunter under saddle, equitation and even barrels and poles. In 2012, the pair made their debut in eventing, which consists of dressage, cross-country and stadium jumping. Besides competing with Corinne, Neko is also partnering with Brenda in the Novice amateur division, competing in showmanship, hunter under saddle and in starter-level eventing.
“To be able to do all these events, and with two different riders, takes a horse with a lot of heart,” Brenda says. “I really believe that identifying the problem as ulcers and treating it accordingly gave this mare her heart back. It was always there, we just had to figure out how to help her.”
“I firmly believe we never would have made it this far without Gastrogard and Ulcergard,” Brenda says. “Like many other horse expenses, we have to budget for it, but just seeing her bright eyes and happy face makes it worthwhile.”
Watch for Brenda, Corinne
and Neko throughout the year as they pursue top honors
on the AQHA circuit with Neko and their other mount, Blue It On Artifacts.
The AQHA "Your Horse’s Health" DVD set is a must-have for youth groups, aspiring veterinarians and anyone interested in keeping their horses healthy and happy. We can't bubble wrap our horses, but we can arm ourselves with knowledge.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: Safety of Gastrogard in pregnant or lactating mares has not been determined.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: Ulcergard can be used in horses that weigh at least 600 pounds. Safety in pregnant mares has not been determined.
®Gastrogard and Ulcergard are registered trademarks of Merial. ©2013 Merial Limited, Duluth GA. All rights reserved. EQUIUGD1310 (02/13)
1Mitchell RD. Prevalence of gastric ulcers in hunter-jumper and dressage horses evaluated for poor performance. Association for Equine Sports Medicine. September 2001.
2Gastrogard product label.
3Ulcergard product label.