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  1. #1
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    Default weight gain and ulcers in the young event horse -- advice or suggestions?

    My 4YO OTTB Danny is skinny and has ulcers.

    The ulcers were a surprise. He'd had some 'irritation' (mild) when we scoped him before so we treated him with omeprazole. He seemed fine -- before and after -- he's just lanky and not gaining weight.

    Then Glenbaer won two free scopes. They had to be used by a certain date. So we scoped Danny, just because.

    Yes. Ulcers.

    Danny isn't exactly the poster boy for ulcers. He's laid back to the point of surfer-dudeness. He eats everything. He's happy under saddle. He's easy to ride. He went to his first unrec BN HT today and scored a 27 in dressage. He's shiny and healthy-looking, albeit on the thin side, but then he's 4 years old, 16.2+hh and not done growing.

    Danny does crib like crazy unless he wears a collar. He's been this way since I got him at 2 and he's made it quite clear that he likes to crib.

    Does anyone have experience with this sort of situation? We are switching him to a feed that's formulated for ulcer-equines but for all we know, that's just marketing talk. We'd discussed possibly trying Succeed but now that we know he's got stomach ulcers, that seems to make less sense.

    I'm generally okay with skinny in a young horse. I'm not one to put any unnecessary weight on them. But his current BO (who knows a few things about horses) says he needs to gain weight, so we're looking for ideas. And then there's the actual presence of ulcers, which actually are worse now than they were before the omeprazole.

    Any and all suggestions much appreciated, even horse psychics with a proven, documented record for putting pounds on a horse.



  2. #2
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    What did you use for Omeprazole? treatment course?

    Most cribbers have ulcers so despite his apparant approach to life, the ulcers don't surprise me.

    Is he out 24/7 on grass with free-choice alfalfa?

    Can't see any reason not to try the Succeed (they appear to offer a guaranteed 60 day trial )

    Hopefully you still have a "free" scope left, I'd put him on Merial's Omeprazole for the 28day treament (guaranteed product with research for that formulation so it makes sense to use this rather than the alternates ... if funds are lacking, then the Canadian Omep would be my 2nd choice BUT ask who's manufacturing & what the actual product QC protocol is), repeat scope to judge efficacy, then gradually wean him off to a maintenance dosage.
    If this was my horse, he'd be on the maintenance dose for 2 months following the treatment, then consider where to go at that point depending on his condition/behavior.
    I would not use a cribbing collar during this time but instead keep him in an interesting program so he's got daily distraction & something to think about (I'm rather assuming that he also has group turnout).



  3. #3
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    Naturally treat the ulcers, and don't stop omeprazole abruptly, but some of the current beliefs on "what and how to feed ulcer horses" include alfalfa (lignins are supposed to buffer acid), corn oil (a very, very tiny study in ponies demonstrated reduced acid production in corn oil-fed subjects), and avoiding grains with excess starch. Keeping hay in front of them all the time is also felt to help by keeping the acid buffered by the stomach contents and constant saliva production.

    Maximize turnout, minimize anxiety, yada yada yada.

    I don't mind lean youngsters, either, much rather have one of those than a fat one!

    If endoscopic studies are to be believed, ulcers are practically universal. (I'm not saying this is what I believe, LOL) Therefore I'd be more inclined to treat symptoms than endoscopy results. If the horse is not anxious, not "ulcery", and doesn't respond particularly well to ulcer treatment (vis a vis profound weight gain) then I would probably not get too worried about the endoscopic findings. A small ulcer can crop up and heal in a matter of days.
    Last edited by deltawave; Jul. 16, 2012 at 09:40 AM.
    Click here before you buy.



  4. #4
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    I had good results on my 4 y/o OTTB with the Abrazole pellets (blue pop rocks). But mine had very classic ulcer symptoms-- not finishing his feed a big one, and most likely why he was losing weight. I gave him 3 packets a day for 3 weeks and noticed a big difference in the first few days. I then tapered him off to 2 packets a day, then 1, then 1 every other day, then only as needed (trailering/stress).

    I also added fish oil to his diet; he hated it so I had to syringe it (usually as a suspension with the BPR). Just 2oz a day of the fish oil made a noticeable difference in his coat and condition. I'm not a really big oil feeder; I thought he had a nice shiny coat to begin with. But after two or three days of fish oil, he glows and just appears a bit more "round" over his prominent points. If I skip the fish oil for a week (ran out) he seems to fade a little bit.

    Another product that worked well for him is U7 gastric aid. It takes a bit longer than omeprazole to really work (and I don't believe it "heals" ulcers, just gives a soothing environment for the horse to heal them himself). But if he starts picking at his food, a week or two of U7 has him eating full-speed again. I like to keep him on it daily for preventative.

    As a positive, when he is ulcer-symptom free, he eats well and holds his weight better. I cut his feed in half after he healed from ulcers the first time-- was getting 6qts daily of high fat, high fiber feed to maintain condition. After omeprazole treatment, he was maintaining on 3qts daily (less feed is also better for his tummy, so a good thing!). I also give him plenty of grass turnout, and free choice alfalfa mix hay. His weight still fluctuates a bit, I think mostly due to heat, work, and growing.
    “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
    ? Albert Einstein

    ~AJ~



  5. #5
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    My OTTB fits your description to a T except that mine is 9...I am about to finish his course of UlcerGard (we started on June 6th). He was just re-scoped this week and is clean and clear. How long that will last...who knows?

    I have mine on free choice home-grown grass hay. His 3xday meals are 1 1/2 pounds (dry weight) alfalfa pellets, soaked, a cup of canola oil and 2 pounds Triple Crown Training Formula. He is also on ProBios and U-7. He's been laid up with an SDFT, hence the weight (muscle) loss. We're up to 6 minute trots now so hopefully the muscle will rebuild FAST.

    This horse does not miss a meal no matter what. The only way I know it is time to scope is that he will occasionally wrinkle the corners of his nostrils and flatten his ears back. It is something that he NEVER does when he's feeling fine. He also dunks his hay with a vengeance. No other symptoms. I think if he wasn't living at home I'd never know he felt crummy.
    Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.



  6. #6
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    I find 4 and 5 year olds to be very frustrating in the weight department! You get them sleek and round, then overnight they drop a 100lbs because they suddenly decided to grow. Ugh. They can make you feel like a bad horseman!!!

    Lots of good advice. My current system is high quality feed (Fibergized Omega), Cocosoya oil, as much good hay as he'll eat (which isn't much), and supplement the hay with chopped alfalfa since he isn't big on hay. The visiting cousin is getting the same thing, and he is still in the weedy, kinda sorta growing stage, too (we were commenting last night that he seems much bigger than when he arrived from Cali last summer, but we think he's filling out now, not growing up. The boy is ALL legs). Hopefully, he'll go home plump and sleek.

    As for the ulcers, do treat them. And, I have to say, I have become a big fan of the "blue pop rocks." They are so easy to just toss in their grain when you think they might be stressed without the giant price tag. I gave the baby cousin a few days worth last week, just to make sure his belly was in order. I think they are a nice product.



  7. #7
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    Sorry to hear you're dealing with ulcers, but things could be worse so ... YAHOOOOOO on the 27!

    Will await follow-up on original treatment protocol, but I personally believe all horses have ulcers to some extend ... and the strong silent types are actually internalizers of anxiety, or resort to other methods (i.e. cribbing) to release it.

    What is the grade of his ulcers? That will dictate the treatment course as prescribed by your vet, but I would look to an ongoing maintenance dose/management approach as this will likely not be a one-off thing. I had great results with 2 months on Gastrogard (month 1 at full dose, month 2 at half-dose, then used both GG and Ulcergard as part of my planned training/competitive schedule). The Nutrena XR as well as alfalfa hay and cubes also seemed to make the tummy much more mild.

    The best result I ever got, however, was a springs/summer when the grass was lush and the horses stayed out 18+ hours a day.
    When blood is the beverage of choice, the sharpest fangs feed first.



  8. #8
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    Feb. 10, 2010
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    Mine isn't a cribber, but internalizes and is a hard keeper to boot. 24/7 turnout, Nutrena Black Bag to get as much fat per # as possible, cool calories for more fat, and Nutrient Buffer added daily. I also add pop rocks when needed. She does tell me when she is ulcery. I tried U-gard for a summer and it did nada. The Nutrient Buffer really helps if I start it before she gets them. Mid summer is hardest for her when the grass is burned, but there's no round bales out.



  9. #9
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    Thanks, all.

    Current diet is as follows:

    -- free choice timothy
    -- alfalfa 2x day
    -- beet pulp 1x day
    -- 6 qts textured 10% protein 10% fat 3x day
    -- grass turnout with friends 24/7

    If he doesn't get the above, he loses weight.

    I'd work on the 'less anxiety' idea, except that I'd have to give him some anxiety first. This is a very assertive, calm horse, both on the ground and under saddle. He would make an excellent police horse -- it's that kind of brain and temperament. He's not being stoic. He's curious about everything and he's quite expressive.

    This is Danny in May, just a couple of weeks after he'd started jumping.

    We have consulted several vets, had bloodwork done, checked for parasites, etc. Nothing turned up, except that he was apparently healthy and had a notably good heart.



  10. #10
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    Oct. 22, 2001
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    I've had good luck with SmartGut on the ones I have that want to be ulcery. I do a course of gastrogard, taper them off, and then put them on SmartGut as a daily. I also tend to back off the grain where I can and add fat to their diet in whatever form they'll eat it. I've found that most of mine end up needing substgantially less grain to maintain weight on this program, but YMMV.

    My 5 year old is the happiest pony on the planet and finds more joy than one would think is possible from his dinner, so he's not a good example, but the new 4 year old may end up switching to this same program. He's also a super laid back dude, but the combination of former racehorse, very slow eater, and hard to keep weight on make me wonder if he's working on ulcers (though he also seems to continue to grow, which adds to the fun). Good luck!



  11. #11
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    He gets 6 qts, 3 times a day? That's a lot of grain! Depending on its weight, that can be as much at 24lbs of grain a day, if not more (may be less...but not a lot less). I'd be curious as to brand. When I got to my current job, we were feeding a locally milled feed and several of the hard keepers were getting ridiculous quantities of feed (like, 20lbs a day...I weighed it). I switched to a high quality feed and most of them have had their diets halved, if not more....just food for thought.



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by GotSpots View Post
    I've had good luck with SmartGut on the ones I have that want to be ulcery. I do a course of gastrogard, taper them off, and then put them on SmartGut as a daily. I also tend to back off the grain where I can and add fat to their diet in whatever form they'll eat it. I've found that most of mine end up needing substgantially less grain to maintain weight on this program, but YMMV.
    This ^^^. I did the exact same thing with one of my TBs at 5 yrs old who sounds a lot like your guy JER with great results.

    Edited to add that my guy gets around 5lbs of feed per day now, in 2 meals, with alfalfa and 24/7 grass pasture. He also receives a vit/min supplement with the SmartGut since he is on so little feed.
    Rhode Islands are red;
    North Hollands are blue.
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    Stomped on your roo. Originally Posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' :



  13. #13
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    So I look up SmartGut and see that it has licorice in it. I was so happy about that -- Danny loves licorice -- that I forgot to look at the rest of the ingredients. Which are, what exactly? Maybe I just couldn't find it on the website, but is there a list of exactly what's in this? I'm looking for something more specific than 'soothing herbs'.

    yb, I don't know what brand of feed he's getting. I assume it's high-quality because (2) Glenbaer is a high-quality girl and (2) my three other horses with her all look good. All three mares are prone to skinniness, too.

    I've had some tough keepers who've taken a year or so to start showing signs of increased weight. Same goes for taking weight off an easy keeper. The successful weight-change process in either direction does seem to take time.

    When Danny was with me in BC, he would go from too-skinny to gaining weight to growing to too-skinny again, which IME is normal for a young horse. But Danny does seem to require a lot of food just to look passably skinny.



  14. #14
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    I'm not a nutrition expert but here are my thoughts. All that grain may be contributing to the ulcers. Have you tried adding oil? What about a higher-fat feed (I have seen some as high as 18-20%)?

    A non-feed/ulcer thought: I experienced major weight loss and colic due to encysted cyathastomes/small redworms (which don't show up in fecal egg counts). You need to de-worm specifically for these worms with moxidectin (Quest), and it helps to know about their life cycle.
    Blugal

    You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by yellowbritches View Post
    Lots of good advice. My current system is high quality feed (Fibergized Omega), Cocosoya oil, as much good hay as he'll eat (which isn't much), and supplement the hay with chopped alfalfa since he isn't big on hay. .
    YB, do you know if the Cocosoya Oil is higher in fat than just a plain corn oil? Also, do they seem to like the taste of it. I've got my hardkeeper girl on corn oil right now mostly because she doesn't seem to mind the taste of it and she's super picky. But, I'd be willing to change her from the Cocosoya if it was higher in fat and I could get her to eat it



  16. #16
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    SmartGut ingredients:

    L-Glutamine 5,000 mg
    Calcium Carbonate 4,500 mg
    Magnesium Carbonate 3,000 mg
    Hydrolyzed Collagen 2,700 mg
    Magnesium Silicate 1,700 mg
    Deglycyrrized Licorice 1,500 mg
    Mannanoligosaccharides 1,300 mg
    Glycine 875 mg
    Gamma Oryzanol 300 mg
    Slippery Elm 300 mg
    Marshmallow Root 250 mg
    Orthosilic Acid (Silica) 35 mg
    Lactobacillus Acidophilus 750 million CFU

    Inactive Ingredients: Dried Aspergillus Oryzae Fermentation Extract, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Extract, Fenugreek Seed, Magnesium Silicate, Maltodextrin, Natural and Artificial Flavors.


    Sophie-I used Cocosoya Oil before I tried the SmartGut and my guys LOVED it. To be honest, it smelled so good I was tempted to try it myself..lol.
    Rhode Islands are red;
    North Hollands are blue.
    Sorry my thoroughbreds
    Stomped on your roo. Originally Posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' :



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by SophieGirl23 View Post
    YB, do you know if the Cocosoya Oil is higher in fat than just a plain corn oil? Also, do they seem to like the taste of it. I've got my hardkeeper girl on corn oil right now mostly because she doesn't seem to mind the taste of it and she's super picky. But, I'd be willing to change her from the Cocosoya if it was higher in fat and I could get her to eat it
    I believe it is 100% fat, just like corn oil is. My horse does love the taste (it is a little sweet tasting, though I think it smells like movie theater popcorn butter). He gets A LOT of it, and is happy with it.



  18. #18
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    A better question perhaps would be how many calories per cup? I'd be curious to know for that and rice bran oil.



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blugal View Post
    A non-feed/ulcer thought: I experienced major weight loss and colic due to encysted cyathastomes/small redworms (which don't show up in fecal egg counts). You need to de-worm specifically for these worms with moxidectin (Quest), and it helps to know about their life cycle.
    I don't know that he's had moxidectin.

    How do you test for the presence of such creatures? Is there a specific deworming protocol to follow?

    Danny was in BC while you were having this problem, might have been something in BC conditions that made redworms an issue that year.



  20. #20
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    Also, I should mention that he started getting Platinum Performance last week.



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