Biting sides? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 04-23-2010, 12:55 AM Thread Starter
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Biting sides?

My gelding has recently starting biting at his sides. He isnt showing any other symptoms otherwise so its got me stumped. Hes seems bright and happy, his gut sounds seem louder? then normal once in a while..maybe im just overreacting but sometimes they seem louder. Hes also slowly dropping weight. Everything is up to date with him including teeth. Hes in a pen with this older mare, they get fed twice a day. Anyone know what it could be? I was thinking maybe stress from not enough exercise and maybe hes got ulcers?? I try to see him everyday even just to lunge him and get him out but he just started doing this a week or two ago on both sides...I dont have access to pasture however I am looking to just give him vacation time and just be a horse for a while. Any help appreciated.
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post #2 of 15 Old 04-23-2010, 01:33 AM
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It does sound like it could be ulcers. What kind of diet is he on and has it changed recently? Does his pasture-mate pick on him at all, or does he pace, or run the fence at all, by chance?

I would certainly get a vet out and get him checked out. I'm not sure there's any definitive way to prove ulcers, except ultrasound, if even then, as it depends on how much damage caused, and how large they may be, so you may wind up just having to treat for them.

"The ideal horseman has the courage of a lion, the patience of a saint, and the hands of a woman..."
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post #3 of 15 Old 04-23-2010, 01:36 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks mom2pride. Hes on this alfalfa/grass mix hay. Some of the bales have more grass while some are loaded with alfalfa. Hes not in pasture, hes in a pen with this older mare thats kind of grump. Her owners are friends of mine and they never go out to see her so shes kind of a depressed little thing. Hes coliced on me before at a different facility due to stress of his environment. I caught it just in time (thank god), but similar situation, in with a mare that was depressed because she never seen the outside world and when she did she got to work her butt off and put away. He doesnt pace or anything like that, I am going to asked the barn manager today if hes been laying down more or anything unusual (he may not tell me the truth though because he doesnt want to lose his board with me putting him out for some vacation time) This horse is my baby and for him to be biting at his sides is huge because hes usually pretty happy about life and whatnot and doesnt do stuff like this. It doesnt hurt him to push on his sides or anything (someone told me that if he had ulcers he would get pretty upset touching his sides) Is there anything natural I could get him on to maybe help with anything internal that he may have going on including ulcers until I can find him some pasture? Im so worried about him.

Last edited by paint gurl 23; 04-23-2010 at 01:38 PM.
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post #4 of 15 Old 04-23-2010, 01:53 PM
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I agree, sounds like ulcers. If you can afford it, I'd have a vet scope him and do some blood work.

For "natural" treatments you could try some aloe vera juice (found at most health food stores) and pepto mixed in some beet pulp (the kind without any molasses). Soak shredded beet pulp in a little water until it's softened, 20-45 minutes, then add 1 cup of aloe vera juice and 1/4 cup of pepto.

If you don't mind paying a little more, makes a great supplement for ulcer prone horses. You use it instead of the pepto. It has pink bismuth in it (the active ingredient in pepto) along with other ingredients for soothing the stomach and aiding in digestion. If he's a picky eater, they can add a flavor to it for free. It's called Amiquell.

Does he get any grain or pelleted feed? If so, stop all feed until you have your vet look at him.
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post #5 of 15 Old 04-23-2010, 02:03 PM Thread Starter
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luvs2ride1979, Thanks so much! I am giving him just mineral 95% of the time, i give him like a handful of complete feed (pellets) if hes worked hard for me but otherwise he just gets mineral. Should I stop the mineral too? I had no idea about grain or pelleted feed contributing to ulcers! thank god for this forum! haha..learn something new everyday! What is it about grain or pelleted feed that can cause ulcers?
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post #6 of 15 Old 04-23-2010, 02:17 PM
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It won't cause ulcers necessarily, but it can agrivate them. It has something to do with the high sugar/starch levels. You might want to remove the mineral for now, at least until you can have the vet out. Make sure he has free access to hay at all times, so his belly is never empty. If you can't provide unlimited hay, then you can use a small mesh hay net to make it take longer for him to eat.
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post #7 of 15 Old 04-24-2010, 12:20 AM
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Here is a link that I think youll find interesting.

I have 2 horses that have done this, (both from the same mare.)

The Filly (now 4) would bite at hers sides, and kick out w her back feet violently, it seemed to come on suddenly. We chalked it up to it started when she started to come into her first heat)....when it didn't settle, we too thought ulcers....we had her scoped....nothing, came back clean. Then it seemed to subside once she started training. She does do it occasionally still, but not nearly as bad as she used to from a common occurrence, to know only occasionally.

Then my colt started it when he was about 8 months, but he would try and bite his flanks, and would spin so fast in a circle as he tried to reach his flanks, that he would almost fall over. It almost looked like he was chasing his tail. In his stall he couldnt spin, so he would back up in the corner and bite at his sides, just as his sister did.
I went through the same process w him as w my mare, by trial and error ruled out different things we thought it could be. My vet was involved but never really came to any clear answer, and actually was quite useless in the her defense I think she had no clue what the issue was, as with me.
In a last ditch effort, I turned to Google.....and found Equine Self mutilation. And the pieces started falling together.

Now both my mare (4) and colt (now 1 1/2) only have to occasional symptom. As I have cut out most concentrates from thier feed, and they both get Chammomille 2/day, and both are on a very regular work schedule. Granted my colt at just under 2 cant be worked, but he challange his brain other ways, such as hand walks over poles and games of that nature.

Equine Self-Mutilation

Horses are like can never just have one
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post #8 of 15 Old 04-24-2010, 12:21 AM
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My 21 year old TB has ulcers.

I had him on a weeks dosage of Gastro Guard or sometihng like that.....

And I als have him on SmatPak suppliments. Smart Gut and SmartDigest Ultra

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post #9 of 15 Old 04-24-2010, 01:06 AM
Green Broke
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My horse has been biting one side and well she is missing some hair there now....I am wondering if she has ulcers....can you get the gastro guard at a equine store? Does your vet need to prescribe it?
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post #10 of 15 Old 04-24-2010, 01:16 AM
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Originally Posted by luvs2ride1979 View Post
For "natural" treatments you could try some aloe vera juice (found at most health food stores) and pepto mixed in some beet pulp (the kind without any molasses).

Do NOT, repeat NOT mix pepto in. It contains Salicylate which can be an allergen in horses and can also aggravate ulcers. If you want to try something similar try one of the equine products intended for this use, but not a human medication.

I agree that the best option would be to have him scoped which is the only way to definitively prove that he has ulcers. If he does, your next step is a course of gastroguard (omeprazole) usually for two weeks and then you can try various preventatives. If he does have ulcers though, it is very doubtful he will fully recover without treating them with the omeprazole.

Good luck to you. My old man TB (20 yrs) has a history of ulcers and I have finally gotten them under control. The key is to minimize stress, as well as a carefully controlled diet and preventatives from smart pak!
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