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  1. #1
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    Default Upcoming article in Equine vet journal.

    I'm impatiently waiting to get my hands on it, it's a recent study regarding the prevalence of ulcers in higher level endurance horses. some of the interesting things I got from the abstract (which is available now, )

    Key study findings were that 48% of the horses had gastric ulcers during the off-season period, and 93% of the horses had gastric ulcers during the competition season. This difference was statistically significant, and age, breed, and gender did not influence the results.

    "This high prevalence of gastric ulcers in elite endurance horses is similar to the rates of ulcers in other athletic horses and could be an important cause of poor performance," relayed Tamzali.

    Two other important findings Tamzali uncovered were:

    1. Horses kept on pasture showed significantly higher "ulcer scores" than the horses housed in a mixed environment (the group of horses kept on pasture had a high starch diet due to added concentrates); and
    2. A positive correlation existed between "gastric score" severity and ride distance: the longer the ride, the more severe the score.
    "These results strengthen those obtained by another research group and underline the fact that amount of starch fed per day or per meal is a very important factor in development of ulcers," added Tamzali."
    Quote Originally Posted by ExJumper View Post
    Sometimes I'm thrown off, sometimes I'm bucked off, sometimes I simply fall off, and sometimes I go down with the ship. All of these are valid ways to part company with your horse.



  2. #2
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    I read the abstract... Might not want to read the whole article though. I feel bad about possibly causing my horse ulcers by doing Endurance with her
    Vet says I shouldn't worry so much as her performance has been great so far and her diet and work schedule are balanced and appropriate. Maybe she could be one of the apparently very few endurance horses without ulcer issues???
    Ahhh, horses... such delicate creatures...



  3. #3
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    I want to read it because I'm now more confused. Seems to be that way doesn't it? the more I learn (hope to god I never stop) then less I feel I know about managing endurance horses. Right now, between learning more about ulcer development in endurance horses (or trying to).. sigh*head desk.. implodes*
    I do go with 'it ain't broke, dont fix it' methodology quite a lot when it comes to feeding my competing horses but... I figure knowledge is never a bad thing when expecting my horses to perform at high levels.
    so far (knock on wood) I've not dealt with an ulcer horse - course I dont have my horses scoped after each competition - so to be fair, I'm betting they do develop ulcers during competition? Least I would guess that they do, given the percentages that the study appears to be speaking of.
    Quote Originally Posted by ExJumper View Post
    Sometimes I'm thrown off, sometimes I'm bucked off, sometimes I simply fall off, and sometimes I go down with the ship. All of these are valid ways to part company with your horse.



  4. #4
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    This is something I worry about constantly, given that my endurance horse has had ulcers. When she was scoped, one of the vets at the clinic essentially said that people are crazy if they think "their" endurance horse couldn't possibly have ulcers. His opinion was that almost every one of them does.

    And I think that's probably true. The equine digestive tract was never designed to withstand 50-100 miles of trotting and cantering in a day. Just the act of trotting and cantering forces gastric juice into the upper portion of the stomach which is poorly protected by mucosal lining. It's just that not all horses will show any outward signs.

    I won't type the name of the FEI American team endurance horse - but one of them's owner has a blog where he types everything about the horse. He's mentioned more than once on this blog that this horse is an extremely hard keeper and requires tons and tons of food. In one entry he was worried that the horse will get even skinnier than he currently is as his training increases (that was a couple years ago.)

    Now, I might be speaking out of turn here, but your "average" Arabian isn't an extremely hard keeper that maintains a body condition score of a 2 while eating enough food for 6 horses. Regardless of how hard he's worked.

    Ulcers was never mentioned in this blog as far as I could see, but it was the first thing that occurred to me.

    In "my" case, my horse is such a drama queen that she took it one step further into spooking and bolting under saddle because of her belly pain. But this is the horse that will throw herself up against a wall to rub off a single house fly that DARED to land on her princess hair. A lot of Arabs are MUCH more stoic than that and unless they are doing things that make them unsafe or they're colicking, their owners will never know or never suspect ulcers, or never treat them.

    On the AERC yahoo board, there are quite a few people who say if your horse has ulcers, they are not in any way suited to endurance riding and they should be retired and a more suitable animal purchased. I think a lot of these people are denying the truth that THEIR horses may in fact have gastric ulcerations and they are unaware of it.



  5. #5
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    Wanted to add -

    I do think there are endurance horses though that truly don't have any gastric issues. I would imagine these to be the really good eaters, combined with being very laid back non-worrying, and riders who ride to finish and not place or win, e.g., slower pace with ample amounts of walking thrown in.



  6. #6
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    Overall I tend to agree that most Arabs and Arabx's are pretty solid keepers. I've got one gelding at home who is an exception to that rule. A well bred Crabbet who I literally throw food down constantly.

    I have had him scoped, no ulcers- but.. I do believe its entirely possible or probable that he gets ulcer sores during competitions, and I try to manage him differently- isn't always easy as this particular gelding is my fathers so I'm not at every ride that he is ridden at, or even hitting vet checks at the same time. but he's never been a nice settled ride either - and he's been competing for about 5 years now.

    I find just trying to learn more/better? upkeep practices for my endurance horses a bit of a struggle at times, constantly trolling the web on my free time looking for better management/nutrition/conditioning techniques - and yes, like you - I often wonder why ulcers how barely spoken about - when we know they exist in a fair sized cross section of competitive horses.
    Quote Originally Posted by ExJumper View Post
    Sometimes I'm thrown off, sometimes I'm bucked off, sometimes I simply fall off, and sometimes I go down with the ship. All of these are valid ways to part company with your horse.



  7. #7
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    "Sample population
    Endurance horses competing in national or international rides
    within professional teams were selected and submitted to 2
    gastroscopic examinations. A total of 30 horses aged 7–14 years
    entered the study. They were 6 females and 24 geldings with a
    majority of Arab breed (20) followed by Anglo-Arabs (9) and one
    cross breed. Eight horses were kept permanently on pasture and 22
    were housed in a mixed environment (stall and pasture). All horses
    were fed similarly: hay distributed ad libitum and concentrate twice
    a day."



  8. #8
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    Last year I spent a lot of time on a barrel racing forum reading ulcer threads. They discuss ulcers there like we discuss saddles or training techniques here. They just all seem to realize ulcers is a big problem for speed horses and they manage the horses accordingly.

    It does seem strange to me that every ulcer thread on the AERC board turns into fighting, accusations, and angry people. It's as if many people within the discipline refuse to accept that endurance riding does place a lot of environmental stress on a horse and puts them at extremely high risk of developing ulcers. (trailering to and from rides, camping overnight tied to a trailer or in a strange paddock, being in close proximity to many strange horses, owners/riders who are more nervous and uptight than normal, being checked multiple times by vets, often eating strange food and drinking strange water at holds, electrolyting, trotting and cantering miles at a time.) It's the perfect storm for a horse to develop ulcers. But no different than any other performance horse - dressage, jumping, reiners, all of them. If a horse is traveling and competing, there is added risk. Period.

    The problem I have is that Sweets will eat and drink when she's darned good and ready. But that is often after 25-30 miles. Then she'll down a bucket of beet pulp, 2 flakes of alfalfa, and 6 gallons of water. But I wish she'd eat more consistently from the get-go. She'll graze along the trail, which is good, but she'll often refuse food at the trailer. So I carry treats and cookies, sometimes carrots, and encourage her to snack through a ride. She will, but it takes some prompting.

    So I'm with you, constantly reading and trying to learn what else I can do.



  9. #9
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    I've got one who will not drink the first loop. result vetcheck #1 =gut :B. Every ride.
    My others all are good drinkers, often stopping dead in the trail if a puddle is spotted- which I encourage while training- so never bothers me much.
    but how proactive should one be in regards to ulcers- I mean I like to KISS. I tend to think simple is better, I don't want to be behind the 8 ball if an issue arises. Our club did an interesting thing last year, we had blood drawn before/after competitions by one of our vets, about 50 horses overall through the entire season- and had blood analysis done, was pretty cool. Not sure I want to be arranging to have my horse scoped after every race, but.. part of me is thinking it might be worth it,, just once.

    the sample population you mentioned marestails 30.. I'm tempted to think that might be too small of a study group? Mind you, I'm not a math guru, I need a calculator to balance my chequebook - so excuse the dumbass question
    Quote Originally Posted by ExJumper View Post
    Sometimes I'm thrown off, sometimes I'm bucked off, sometimes I simply fall off, and sometimes I go down with the ship. All of these are valid ways to part company with your horse.



  10. #10
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    Default

    Stupid question: beet pulp = starch, right?



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by blazn View Post
    Stupid question: beet pulp = starch, right?
    No. Beet pulp is mostly fiber, very low non-structural carbohydrate. It is the fibrous tissue left over after the sugar has been mechanically extracted from the plant. Some manufactures spray it with molasses during processing to make it more palatable but I buy the non-molassed.



  12. #12
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    Did the study abstract define "concentrates"? Does anyone know what a horse competing at that level is likely to be fed?



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by blazn View Post
    Did the study abstract define "concentrates"? Does anyone know what a horse competing at that level is likely to be fed?
    far as I can see, the concentrates aren't broken down by name/brand. typically anything above beet pulp is a concentrate,
    the thing I thought was interesting, is they did breakdown the percentages of starch. horses got >15% starch daily in the pasture group showed the highest prevalence-
    I'm still trying to wrap my brain around why pasture only
    should affect the numbers so much, early morning sugars? (not a pasture guru either)

    My horses aren't on pasture 24/7 - they have 3-4 hours a day turnout on grass, rest of time they are in their paddocks mostly.
    Quote Originally Posted by ExJumper View Post
    Sometimes I'm thrown off, sometimes I'm bucked off, sometimes I simply fall off, and sometimes I go down with the ship. All of these are valid ways to part company with your horse.



  14. #14
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    So the study was saying that the horses on 24/7 grass pasture had a higher incidence of ulcers?



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Auventera Two View Post
    So the study was saying that the horses on 24/7 grass pasture had a higher incidence of ulcers?
    yeah. which I guess I'm not bright enough to figure out the 'why' of- but then I've been up since 5 am, so I'm blaming that. rofl.

    essentially the conclusion was habitat did play a part in the prevalence of ulcers in endurance horses. "the mean gastric score of the pasture group was higher then the mean gastric score of the mixed group.*pasture/stall*"
    Quote Originally Posted by ExJumper View Post
    Sometimes I'm thrown off, sometimes I'm bucked off, sometimes I simply fall off, and sometimes I go down with the ship. All of these are valid ways to part company with your horse.



  16. #16
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    Hey, I feel your pain. I was up since 5 a.m. cleaning dog poop off the carpet. LOL

    Mine are on a mix pasture/stall so maybe that's good? Sweets would live in a stall 24/7 if allowed to. She probably missed the boat and should have been in a english pleasure barn as a park horse who gets turnout one day a year. That would have been up her ally. The filly also prefers to be inside the barn. Before I bought her she was with a trainer for 30 days and she never got one minute of turnout! She lived in a box stall. What yearling doesn't go bonkers in a box stall for a whole month? But she loved it. How I got "lucky" enough to get "barn arabs" I don't know.



  17. #17
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    Rainechyldes, could you link to the abstract, and the study when it becomes available?

    The OP said pastured horses had more ulcers, but also said "the group of horses kept on pasture had a high starch diet due to added concentrates". Not clear to me whether the horses on pasture were given more concentrates than the others, or the pastured horses' diet was high in starch because of the grass plus the concentrates, or if the mixed-environment group was getting hay that differed from the pasture grasses, or...

    There are a lot of variables here. Traditionally high starch diets are linked to ulcers, and pasture turnout is recommended as an ulcer preventative. In this study the pasture aspect could just be a red herring, the real issue being the total amount of starch in the diet. Which would not be anything new.



  18. #18
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    IMO the key to ulcer prevention also encouraging earlier drinking is forage consumption. As many of you know, concentrates actually cause the production of more stomach acid. So giving carrots, treats, grain, will increase the acid content of the stomach. Eating hay and/or grass is better AND it sits on top of the stomach contents. A study done on stomach contents involved scoping the stomach with different feeds in the stomach. Grain just sinks to the bottom of the stomach. Beet pulp will layer on top of the grain but still sinks, hay and grass floats as a mat on top of the stomach fluids and helps to prevent sloshing of the acidic liquid onto the higher lining of the stomach, the area that is prone to ulcers.

    I have had to treat two horses for ulcers. I finally realized that it was importent to teach my horses to graze, whenever, wherever, I pull them up and say "Eat Eat". If they eat early and often of grass along the way then they drink early and well and come into the vet check and eat and drink well. They have great gut sounds also and never seem to be in discomfort.

    However, eating on the trailer has been difficult, especially with one horse. It's getting better as I'm resorting to cutting fresh grass or corn stalks to put into the trailer and I've experimentd with placing the forage in different locations within the trailer. Putting it on the floor and using a tie clipped high on the halter so they can lower their heads down has helped a lot. As I have a slant load trailer my horses will ride backed into the back corner of their stalls. That moves their noses away from the hanging mangers or hay bags. I may sprinkle a bit of grain across the top of the hay, just to temp them. I found moving the hay back to where they stand helps improve eating while trailering. I also give an antacid just before loading them up.

    It's not too hard or time consuming to do the little things that will help. The one thing I think I can't do is ride really fast without grazing time along the way, even with antacids it seems to impact my horses need to drink early.

    Bonnie



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Auventera Two View Post
    So the study was saying that the horses on 24/7 grass pasture had a higher incidence of ulcers?
    Not exactly "incidence."

    "Eight horses were kept permanently on pasture and 22 were housed in a mixed environment (stall and pasture)."

    The horses on pasture had higher (worse) ulcer scores:
    "The score severity was not significantly related to age, breed or gender but a significant correlation was found between housing and the gastric score severity: the mean gastric score of the ‘pasture group’ was higher than the mean gastric score of the ‘stall + pasture group’ "

    During the competition period, 28/30 had signs of ulcers.

    If it makes a difference, I think these may have been French horses.



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