Horse ulcers are a big topic these days with horse owners. Horses are highly prone to ulcers when under stress, whether physical, mental, or emotional stress. Physical causes of stress include diet, heavy training, injuries, chiropractic issues, and extreme weather.
Mental and emotional stress can also cause horse ulcers. This kind of stress can happen when a horse is ill-suited to his job or his handler, or lives in an environment he finds stressful.
On top of all of that, it turns out that there are four kinds of horse ulcers. Horses can develop ulcers in the upper stomach, lower, stomach, duodenum (upper part of the small intestine), and colon. The causes and symptoms of each type of ulcer are different, as well as the treatments.
Symptoms and Diagnoses of Horse Ulcers
Although it isn’t always easy to diagnose which kind of ulcer a horse might have, the general symptoms of ulcers include:
– diminished appetite
– frequent pawing
– weight loss
– poor performance
– reluctance to eat grain but ready consumption of hay
– sore back
– in foals, colic, a pot-bellied appearance, teeth grinding, and excessive salivation
Specifically, horses with stomach or duodenal ulcers are more likely to express irritation at having the girth tightened. Horses with colonic ulcers are more prone to diarrhea.
Stomach and duodenal ulcers can generally be diagnosed with an endoscope, which is a long flexible tube with a camera and light attached at the end. An endoscope allows a veterinarian to look inside a horse’s stomach and duodenum, but is generally not long enough to reach the lower part of the small intestine or the colon.
An osteopath can diagnose the location of ulcers by the location of spinal blockages. For instance, stomach ulcers are indicated by blockages in the 12th through 14th thoracic vertebrae, while blockages in the 14th through 16th vertebrae indicate duodenal ulcers. Ulcers in the lower small intestine and upper colon cause blockages in the 17th and 18th thoracic vertebrae, and ulcers in the lower colon result in blockages in lumbar vertebrae 1-5.
Want to Know More?
You can read the full text of this article on my website. It’s called Horse Ulcers: Not the Same for Every Horse.
You can also dig deeper into the topic of ulcers, nutrition, holistic horse management, and more with the Holistic Horsekeeping book and ebook. This book material covers all the basic holistic horsekeeping topics, from feeding and deworming to parasite control and hoofcare. Learn more here: