It may be hard to believe, but horses become stressed, just like humans. Stress is natural, but after long periods of time, it can take its toll on humans and horses, alike. Stress is a natural response to a threat. During a long, stressful period of time, the natural chemicals that protect the body, begin having a harmful effect instead, including weakening the immune system. The body chemicals are trying to escape the stress. Horses may become stressed by sudden changes in weather, a loss of a companion, being confined in a barn, racing, strenuous exercise, and other causes, which could damage the horse’s health.
Keeping a horse stress free can be achieved by good management and a watchful eye. Being aware of a horse’s natural environment and behavior in the wild is also a key factor in keeping a healthy, happy horse. Horses are naturally grazers and are constantly eating. But, when a horse is confined in a barn, eating habits are changed. The horses now do not have an open field of grass to eat, but instead, are restricted to a small space. In the wild, horses graze at all times during the day and become stressed if the schedule is changed. The horse will be constantly stressed if it does not know when it is going to be fed. Horses can also become stressed because of racing,.
Stress may VERY often lead to gastric ulcers. Gastric ulcers (EGUS or EGUD) are open sores inside the stomach. They are caused by a break in the skin or mucous membrane that fails to heal. Basically, a ulcer is an irritation on the lining of the stomach. Gastric ulcers are a common medical condition in horses. It is estimated that almost 50% of foals and 33% of adult horses that are kept in barns, have gastric ulcers. 60% of show horses and 90% of racing horses may develop and suffer from moderate to severe gastric ulcers. Symptoms and signs of gastric ulcers in foals include: intermittent colic, often after nursing or eating, poor appetite, nursing for very short periods of time, grinding their teeth, excessive salivation, diarrhea, and lying on the back. Symptoms and signs of gastric ulcers in adult horses include: a bad appetite, weight loss, a bad body condition, poor hair coat, colic, attitude changes, dullness, poor performance, and lying down more than normal.
Some causes of ulcers are: fasting, the type of feed, exercise (racing), and medications. If a horse does not eat often, the acid inside the stomach will build up making the horse vulnerable to gastric ulcers. When a horse is fed concentrates of roughage, there is an increase of acid production. Strenuous exercise and racing may increase the time it takes for the stomach to empty, allowing large amounts of acid to remain in the empty stomach for a long period of time.
The traditional treatment for ulcers can run very expensive. It can cost up to $40.00 per day, however, ulcers can be cured by food supplements and natural products at a reasonable price.
Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome