The horse in its natural environment should spend up to 16 hours per day feeding in a herd, with the occasional need to move at high speed to evade predators. In this state the horse’s naturally acidic stomach contents are buffered by saliva produced in response to regular eating.
There are several factors that contribute to ulcers. A lack of fibre is one of the major causes as the horse’s natural trickle grazing would normally provide protection against ulcers – the presence of fibrous material in the stomach acts as a physical barrier literally stopping the acid coming into contact with the stomach lining. Constant chewing produces saliva that helps to neutralise acid produced in the stomach. Any horse or pony that has restricted access to forage can be vulnerable to ulcers, which is why it is a problem that can affect racehorses as well as good doers.
Other factors that contribute to ulcers include exercise and stress
Not all horses and ponies show classic symptoms of ulcers, but the following are indicators that suggest you may want to ask your vet to check for ulcers:
There are various antacid medications that your vet may prescribe and alongside these it is important to feed and manage your horse or pony in a way that reduces the risk of ulcers recurring. The following tips should be implemented: