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Hilary Moore Hebert: Ulcers

Let’s talk about ulcers. When I say that, I don’t mean the causes, symptoms and treatments (DT did a great article a while ago that you can read by clicking?here), I mean the fact that they are common in horses, but we seem to treat them like the elephant in the room. Don’t quote me on the numbers, but a basic search of equine ulcers on various medical websites suggests that a minimum of 60 percent of show horses have ulcers. I have heard some people suggest that the number might be closer to 80 or 90 percent. That means that if you have 10 horses in your barn, six to nine of them might have ulcers?!?! So why don’t we talk about this the way we talk about treating dehydration at the shows? Maybe because ulcers in humans are considered a red flag that you are doing something wrong (ie, stress at work, poor sleep habits, bad diet), we think that if our horse has ulcers we are a bad owner/trainer/person? Well I am here to start things off! My name is Hilary Moore Hebert and my horse battles with ulcers. It isn’t because I feed him spicy Thai food every weekend and tell him he is a loser until he can’t sleep at night, it is because he is a horse and when I take him away from eating 24/7 his stomach is empty and that is when things start to go downhill. Yes, even relaxing hacks around the property and fancy bubble baths were the culprit, because he wasn’t eating at the time. This does not make me a bad horse-mom (maybe he thinks so, because I used a lavender shampoo and made him smell like a girl). So here is my other secret: when I started treating the ulcers, my good horse became great. It wasn’t a situation like lameness or a tooth problem, where he went from being unworkable to sound. What happened is our flying changes became straighter, he wasn’t that extra bit tighter on the right side and instead of being Mr. Sensitive when he got groomed, I can now lean into the curry comb and he likes it. I think diagnosing/treating equine ulcers falls more into the category of proper saddle fit, correct shoeing and good nutrition. You don’t know what you are missing until you find what works, but when you do it makes all the difference in the world.

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