Hard Keepers, Ulcers, and Alfalfa - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 09-12-2014, 02:25 PM Thread Starter
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Hard Keepers, Ulcers, and Alfalfa

So I'm not sure if anyone remembers the thread I made a couple months ago, but basically I have an OTTB who is an incredibly hard keeper and has recurring ulcers, and was in a pretty bad situation with a boarding barn where he was getting barely any hay.

I finally moved him back in July to a place where he gets all the hay he wants and they feed what I ask them to, and he's put on a good deal of weight - about 150lbs. His ulcers also seemed to have cleared up almost completely after a month or so of him being there, so I thought we were home free...

Well, they're back. The other day when I put his girth on he froze up and then exploded, breaking the cross ties and bucking out of the barn. He's been really tense and reactive under saddle, which is his MO when the ulcers crop up. Sure enough, when I palpated his ulcer points, he reacted. I don't get it, and I have no idea why they'd be back.

Here's what he's getting now:

- Turned out 24/7 with his buddies on a dry lot, but with free choice grass hay throughout the day out of an elevated hay feeder

AM
- 4lbs Nutrena Pro Force Fiber
- 1lb Empower Boost
- 1 scoop U-Gard pellets - using the scoop that comes with the supplement

Lunch
- 3lbs Nutrena Pro Force Fiber

PM
- 4lbs Nutrena Pro Force Fiber
- 1lb Empower Boost
- 1 scoop U-Gard pellets

I usually ride him 3-4 times a week, and he's a really nervous boy under saddle but we haven't done anything overly stressful lately, just flatwork and some trail riding.

I feel like it's also noteworthy that he's had very loose, watery stool since coming to this barn and having his diet changed - he was previously on Triple Crown Low Starch instead of the Nutrena in the same amount he's getting now. He's put on a lot of weight on this diet and with they hay, but still has another 50lbs or so to go. I've figured the loose stool is related to the extra fat in his diet because that's been the only change, but I don't know how to stop it and have him still gaining weight.

I really can't afford another GastroGard course. I've already done two separate full-month treatments and it's really run me dry financially, and I'd prefer to keep my emergency credit lines open for emergencies. Plus the fact that I don't want to spend another grand on ulcer treatment when they just seem to come back no matter what I do. Eliminating grain really isn't an option because he loses weight so quickly and so easily, I'd have no hope of keeping him from looking like a bag of bones without grain.

I had read that adding alfalfa to the diet can help ulcers, I can't add it in flake form because the farm doesn't keep it on hand but I can add pellets or cubes. Would adding a pound or so of alfalfa pellets to each feeding help? Or replacing the lunch completely with alfalfa pellets? Would cubes be better or are they about equal? I know the pellets are cheaper and easier to work with because they don't have to be soaked, but if cubes are better I'll get them. Or would neither of those things really help and I'd be better off just saving my money?

I've also read that ranitidine can be used to treat ulcers for much less than a GastroGard course - how does one go about doing this? What's the dosage for a 1200lb horse? I assume the pills could just be top dressed over the feed.

Does anyone have any other suggestions?

EDIT: He's on a 2-month rotational deworming schedule, last dose was August with Panacur. Teeth were floated in May, though it's possible they could need to be done again because he is a grinder.
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post #2 of 16 Old 09-12-2014, 02:55 PM
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It's going to be tricky if the ulcers just keep coming back.
Alfalfa has higher levels of calcium which helps the stomach, so yes adding it could help. Cubes would actually be better than pellets as they have slightly longer bits of fiber to them than the ground up pellets, but either one will work, go with what works and what you can afford on that.

Ranitidine is used, with varying levels of success.

I'd ask your vet about getting 'Pop Rocks' shipped in from overseas. They're cheaper than GastroGard/ Ulcergard. You can order them through Abler's website (just Google search it under equine pop rocks) But you must follow the dosing instructions exactly.

Yes replacing the grain lunch with alfalfa might help a bit. you might also have to evaluate the way the horse is kept and see if you can change other things.

"They see me rollin, They hatin, Patrolling they tryin to catch me ridin dirty"
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post #3 of 16 Old 09-12-2014, 03:00 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Horseychick87 View Post
It's going to be tricky if the ulcers just keep coming back.
Alfalfa has higher levels of calcium which helps the stomach, so yes adding it could help. Cubes would actually be better than pellets as they have slightly longer bits of fiber to them than the ground up pellets, but either one will work, go with what works and what you can afford on that.

Ranitidine is used, with varying levels of success.

I'd ask your vet about getting 'Pop Rocks' shipped in from overseas. They're cheaper than GastroGard/ Ulcergard. You can order them through Abler's website (just Google search it under equine pop rocks) But you must follow the dosing instructions exactly.

Yes replacing the grain lunch with alfalfa might help a bit. you might also have to evaluate the way the horse is kept and see if you can change other things.
What other things do you think I'd have to change? He's outside 24/7 with buddies in a large paddock, has a nice sized run in shed to go in when he desires, as much hay as he wants... etc, etc. He's the boss in the paddock so he isn't being bullied by anyone or having hay guarded from him. I really can't think of anything else.
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post #4 of 16 Old 09-12-2014, 03:10 PM
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Does he play around or have activities outside of riding/ pasture time? Maybe you can add some toys for him. If those don't work he may just be ulcer prone and need intensive management of the ulcers.

Does he have any vices? Weaving, cribbing wind sucking? I've read small snippets of research that says they can be indicators of stress or even just ulcers.

"They see me rollin, They hatin, Patrolling they tryin to catch me ridin dirty"
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post #5 of 16 Old 09-12-2014, 03:12 PM
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You can get ranitidine at Wmart for $4.00 for 65 150 mg pills. This is the wmart generic brand called Equate. Make sure you get the correct doseage 150 mg, as they have several meds at that price, all at $4.00. I had been taking it for years myself when my vet recommended it for my mare, who had a colic episode. She's an Arabian, around 900 lbs, and I was to give 6 pills twice a day. For your horses weight, try eight. He's not going to eat them if you just toss them in his feed. You will need to crush the pills( I actually throw them in a blender and use a pastry brush to get all the powder out) It has a very bitter taste,so I mix the crushed pills in a syringe ( a large wormer tube or used probiotic syringe is perfect) with some syrup or fruit punch.I give it orally. If you can't find the 150 mg ranitidine, they also carry it in 75 mg doses, of course you would then double the amount of pills to give. I've got this system down to an art for giving crushed meds orally, so if you'd like more info on how to, let me know.
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post #6 of 16 Old 09-12-2014, 03:34 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Horseychick87 View Post
Does he play around or have activities outside of riding/ pasture time? Maybe you can add some toys for him. If those don't work he may just be ulcer prone and need intensive management of the ulcers.

Does he have any vices? Weaving, cribbing wind sucking? I've read small snippets of research that says they can be indicators of stress or even just ulcers.
I've tried adding toys in his pasture but he really has no interest in the whatsoever lol, he'd rather eat his hay and boss everyone around. We do some playing on-line, but not as much as I'd like because of a hectic work schedule. Maybe 1-2 times a week.

He used to constantly pace the fence, he's actually worn a rut along the fence that he paces, but he barely does it anymore. It pretty much slowed to a stop when he started getting free-choice hay, and now he'll only start 5 minutes or so before feeding time when he used to do it pretty much all day. He doesn't crib or weave or anything like that.
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post #7 of 16 Old 09-12-2014, 03:37 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HombresArablegacy View Post
You can get ranitidine at Wmart for $4.00 for 65 150 mg pills. This is the wmart generic brand called Equate. Make sure you get the correct doseage 150 mg, as they have several meds at that price, all at $4.00. I had been taking it for years myself when my vet recommended it for my mare, who had a colic episode. She's an Arabian, around 900 lbs, and I was to give 6 pills twice a day. For your horses weight, try eight. He's not going to eat them if you just toss them in his feed. You will need to crush the pills( I actually throw them in a blender and use a pastry brush to get all the powder out) It has a very bitter taste,so I mix the crushed pills in a syringe ( a large wormer tube or used probiotic syringe is perfect) with some syrup or fruit punch.I give it orally. If you can't find the 150 mg ranitidine, they also carry it in 75 mg doses, of course you would then double the amount of pills to give. I've got this system down to an art for giving crushed meds orally, so if you'd like more info on how to, let me know.
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The ranitidine has worked for your mare? I don't really want to ask the barn manager to give him medication orally 2x daily but I will if I have to, I already have her doing a lot of special stuff for my horses and I don't want to be "that boarder" lol. I've thought about crushing up the pills and mixing each dose with a little applesauce, and just giving her that to dump over his grain, or wetting his grain and adding the crushed pills to that.
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post #8 of 16 Old 09-12-2014, 03:48 PM
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Definitely give the alfalfa (in whatever form you can get it) a try. I've seen that really help out ulcer-prone horses.
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post #9 of 16 Old 09-12-2014, 03:59 PM
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Yes ranitidine works but it needs to be given 3 times daily. I would pull the horse out of work until those ulcers heal. Anytime the horse exercises the acid splashes forward making it painful.

My mare had ulcers so badly when I bought her she was anemic! I thought I had bought a crazy horse as her attitude was completely different! She was spooky and nervous all the time!

I would also use an ivermectin praziquantel dewormer to get rid of anything else in his system.

Not even my 21yr old tb needs that much feed! She gets fat off of 1 cup of grain and the grass pasture!

You should try alfalfa instead of so much grain. Grain is not good for horses with ulcers. I would add vegetable oil to his feed instead and cut way back on his grain.

I bet he will gain weight once the ulcers are addressed.
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post #10 of 16 Old 09-12-2014, 04:31 PM
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we have had huge success on ottb's with ulcers using alfalfa and aloe vera in their grain, with 24/7 turn out and free choice hay.
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