Inflamed mucosal epithelium and stomach ulcers are common among horses that are subjected to stress such as training and competition. Published scientific studies have shown at least 90% of racing and performance horses suffer from some type of stomach problem.
Some reasons for these conditions are the stress of physical training, both mental and physical injuries and/or illnesses that cause pain to the horse. The most common symptoms in adults and foals are change in attitude, change in training, poor growth, dull hair coat, teeth grinding, colic, diarrhea, excessive salivation, potbelly, metabolic and hormonal problems and a reduced immune response.
One reason for ulcers is the stress of unnatural feeding practices.
Many of the industrial made feeds and feed supplements, which are part of the feeding regime; promote different types of allergies. Industrial made pellets may often contain: dried whey, wheat gluten, yeast, heat processed grain, oils, animal fat, rice bran, corn, etc. They also contain some type of preservative. Any of those ingredients may promote allergic reactions and one of the first signs comes from the stomach.
Some researchers believe the release of histamine in the stomach causes a response of the immune defense system. The horse develops sensitivity and releases special types of white blood cells (lymphocyte) that activate IgA (Immunoglobulin A). Histamine induced IgA signals the body that changes in the natural stomach constraints is occurring.
As histamine secretion increases the glands are stimulated to produce more gastric acid. The horse is extremely sensitive to histamine and a local gastric allergic reaction starts.
Our group has studies on racehorses and performance horses regarding the effect of Gastromin (in Sweden Gastrofor). Our findings showed that 99.5% of the horses with symptoms of stomach ulcers improved after a few days of treatment with Gastromin. After 3-4 weeks, 75-78% did not show any remaining symptoms of ulcers.
When a horse leads the life of a professional athlete, it is very important that it will be fed a diet suited to its individual biological requirements, it means raw fodder. The “cooked fodder” to horses is unnatural and do not contain any enzymes.
A diet biologically adapted to a horse is bulk forage in the form of hay which is the most important staple along with pasture, oats, salt lick and water.
A racehorse needs energy rich feed. The most important fuels for working muscles are carbohydrates and fats, and the best source of these nutrients is whole oats.
It is also important to give the horse roughage at least four times per day. Digestion is governed by the horse's stomach, which is fairly small and can't hold much at a single feeding.
Drinking water for horses should be regarded as part of the diet.