Guard Against Ulcers
It’s not just horse owners who feel the pressure of training and competition; horses feel it, too.
June 19, 2010
From AQHA Corporate Partner Merial
Horse shows can be a stressful endeavor. However, exhibitors aren’t the only ones who deal with the pressure of competition. Whether horses travel the country attending shows week after week or are out once a year to win a ribbon at the county show, they can feel the stress of competition, too.
After nearly 30 years riding and showing horses, Bret Parrish, western pleasure trainer and 2006 All American Quarter Horse Congress Masters 2-year-old western pleasure reserve champion, knows just how stressful competition can be.
“The actual showing of the horse is the easiest part; it’s the hauling and preparation that are toughest for the horse,” says Bret, who owns Parrish Quarter Horses in Pavo, Georgia. “That’s why we try not to stress the horses too much at one time. We take things slowly and spread out the preparation time throughout the day, and even sometimes the night before, so we’re not putting added pressure on the horse.”
Whatever the problem between horse and rider, Martin Black has practical solutions that he shares in AQHA’s Horse Training Techniques With Martin Black downloadable report.
In addition to keeping a regular competition routine to keep his horses relaxed, Bret also uses Ulcergard (omeprazole) to help prevent stomach ulcers before they become a problem.
“UlcerGard is a great tool for us because if a horse isn’t eating well and feeling good, he’s definitely not going to perform well for us,” Bret says. “We’ve gotten to where we’ll give our horses a dose of UlcerGard before we leave and then keep them on it until we come home. We try to guard against stomach ulcers before we ever leave home.”
Bret says it’s a priority to give his horses products that are thoroughly tested and FDA-approved. A competition is no place to encounter surprises; everything from his horse’s tack to health-care products must work consistently.
“We have always had a really great response with UlcerGard,” Bret says. In addition, Bret says learning each horse’s tendencies and personality can sometimes make training and showing challenging, but using UlcerGard to help prevent stomach ulcers makes it easier to keep each horse feeling good and ready to work.
Learn three tips for starting young horses from AQHA QuarterFest clinician Ken McNabb. Plus, find out if you’re making a common mistake with your horse.
Bret knows competitors at all levels can relate to the stress of competitions, even if they don’t spend weeks on the road. In fact, stomach ulcers can occur in as many as 63 percent of competitive horses not involved in racing.
“A horse’s stomach can produce up to 16 gallons of acid each day,” says Dr. April Knudson, manager of Merial Veterinary Services. “In a natural grazing environment, forage in the stomach helps create a buffer for the stomach acid. But when we take horses out of the pasture and into a stall or show, with limited grazing opportunities or little free-choice hay, coupled with the stress of the show, acid can build up in the horse’s stomach and lead to stomach ulcers.”
Dr. Knudson adds that horses are extremely sensitive to stress. Even events that many horse owners consider to be routine, including training, traveling, competition and stall confinement, can be stressful enough to contribute to stomach ulcer development, sometimes in as little as five days.
“Horses that show competitively, whether year-round or once a summer, can develop stomach ulcers,” Dr. Knudson says. “But owners can help keep their horses performing at their best just by using UlcerGard to help prevent stomach ulcers before they become a problem.”
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