1 in 3 horses suffer from gastric ulcers

Owners’ Experiences

Owners' experiences - Laura and JB

“JB was diagnosed with Grade 5 ulcers aged 19. After months of increased bouts of colic and severe weight loss I was distraught. Our vet diagnosed ulcers and prescribed a 3 month course of GastroGard. Within days JB had his sparkle back, it was a miracle! After 3 months his weight was almost back to normal with no more signs colic. 7 years on and we are still together today.”

Laura Wallis

Owners' experiences - Deb and Pavaroti

“If it wasn't for the diagnosis and subsequent treatment of Pavaroti's ulcers I don't know what I'd have done. He was getting dangerous to ride, even for an able-bodied rider, and I would have had to retire him at only 11 years of age.”

2012 Paralympic Gold Medallist Deb Criddle MBE

Owners' experiences - Sophie and NokiOwners' experiences - Sophie and Noki

“I train with Angela Weiss, and have been doing so for two years, we have a great partnership and she has helped me so much. Angela is also the World Class Start & Potential Para Dressage Squad Coach, alongside Nina Venables.

I have two horses in the squad, Pinocchio (Noki) aged fifteen who I've ridden for three years, and Valerius (Reece) a ten year old I've had for five years.

I got Noki in January 2009, he is owned by Dr Jackie Walker, and I'm very lucky to have the ride on him. My top horse, Touchdown had gone lame in quarantine and had to retire after a keratoma operation. I needed a horse but I had lost all my money in touchdown. Noki is the biggest softy, and a gentle giant, and he'd had a lot of experience with his previous rider.

Reece is a cheeky, playful horse, and always in trouble! He was scoped last year and nothing major came up. However over Christmas he had a few colicy episodes and went really picky in his eating. He also became a bit grumpier. When he was scoped at squad training in February they found a large quite nasty ulcer. He was put on a course of antibiotics, Antepsin, and GastroGard® (omeprazole).

After just a week he was eating his hard feed so much better and has been working really well since! We will now be looking at ongoing management to reduce the risk of the ulcer recurring once it has cleared.

I'd had no prior experience of ulcers, but the scoping was well worth doing for Reece and I'm pleased we are getting on top of it now! Team selection is well underway at the moment and at the time of writing we have the winter championships next week. The horses are going well in training at the moment, so my priority is trying to keep them healthy and well.

Finally I would just like to say thank you to the team in helping Reece in particular with his treatment and diagnosis!”

Sophie Wells

22 year old Paralympic team rider Sophie Wells began riding at the age of 7. Born with Amniotic Band Syndrome, a foetal development condition which affected her hands and ankles, Sophie took up able-bodied dressage at the age of 12. At the age of 13 she was re-classified as a Grade IV para rider and selected onto the Lottery funded World Class Start and Potential Para dressage programme.

Owners' experiences - Sally Cobbold

I have recently treated a young thoroughbred gelding used for eventing. His rider reported that he had been increasingly reluctant to go forward over the previous few months and was generally very grumpy around the stable and when ridden. This had all started not long after he had moved yards.

A general clinical examination and blood test was unremarkable so we carried out a gastroscopy. The horse had grade 3 lesions in the fundus and pylorus. This horse improved markedly after a month of treatment along with management changes.

When we re-scoped him after a month the lesions had healed and the rider reported that he was much happier in himself and going forward much better. He is now performing well and enjoying his eventing season.

We have seen several cases of ulcers in horses that have changed yards or ownership not long before signs became apparent. No matter how carefully the owner tries to make the transition, travelling a horse and taking it to a new yard can be a stressful event. I now put ulcers high up my list of possible diagnoses for sudden behavioural or performance changes in a horse, especially if there has been a recent change in management or stressful event.

Case Study By Sally Cobbold MRCVS, Catley Cross Veterinary Clinic