Studies show that as many as 85% of horses in training have at least moderate gastric ulcers. If you’re just starting your journey to relieve the pain and discomfort associated with your horse’s ulcers, you’ve probably already been bombarded by the overwhelming amount of advice on how to get your horse relief and if you’re a seasoned warrior in the battle against this nagging issue, you’ve probably got a number of things you’ve tried to keep your horse performing his best.
When addressing ulcers, as with anything else in your horse’s program, it’s important to determine your goals for whatever regimen you choose.
What’s the Goal of Your Program?
For most owners facing the distress and loss of performance ulcers can cause, the answer to the question, “What is your goal for your ulcer treatment program?” is a simple one… “RELIEF”!! And at the end of the day, that is the ultimate gauge of success in any ulcer management practice...But relief can come in many forms, and it's important to consider more than just the end game result when designing your horse’s ulcer management regimen.
A Different Approach
When you give the knee jerk answer that relief is the goal of your program, it’s understandable. The symptoms of ulcers are concerning to say the least, especially if your horse is more than mildly affected but treating the symptoms without looking deeper at the actual causes of ulcers in your horse may prove to be a temporary fix at best...and considering some of the side effects of commonly prescribed ulcer pharmaceuticals, it could be a lot worse than that.
A Whole-istic Approach
Holistic, in the context of equine use, is defined as “characterized by the treatment of the whole horse, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the physical symptoms of a disease.” In a nutshell, you take into account the whole picture when determining a course of action to treat your horse for ulcers and make changes in his environment, diet, and training program when necessary to ensure that you’re operating in a sustainable and horse-centered way. When you start to investigate the causes of your horse’s ulcers, it’s easy to see why a holistic approach to ulcer management would be far more effective than the damage control approach of merely treating the symptoms.
Are there holes in your program?
Your horse’s training program is built on a foundation of certain basics, right? The classical training pyramid starts with a foundational requirement of rhythm and progresses sequentially through suppleness, connection, impulsion, straightness, and finally collection. If you’ve studied and pondered this hierarchy at all, you start to realize the connection of one level to the next. You begin to realize why the levels are placed the way they are, and that progressing to the next level without mastery of the previous sets your horse up for failure and confusion, and possibly even injury! So by nature, most classically trained equestrians approach training from something of a holistic standpoint, one where the journey is as important as the destination. Ulcer management is no different. In order to have an ulcer-free horse, there is a foundation of health that must be laid. Progressing to symptom mitigation before addressing the whole health of the horse is akin to asking for too much too soon, it leaves a glaring hole in your ulcer management program. If there are holes in your program, they will come back to haunt your horse.
Are you already doing too much?
If you’ve already progressed in your ulcer treatment protocol to daily pharmaceuticals, whether it’s with supplements or medication, it’s not too late to take a step back and reassess. Taking time to actually determine the likely causes of your horse’s ulcers can make all the difference in the success of your treatment program. Going back over everything from your feed schedule, to your horse’s training and turnout regimen, to doing a complete inventory of your horse’s physical soundness and comfort can give you clues to ways you can tweak your program to help your horse become his most vibrant and healthful self naturally...and don’t forget, small changes can have a huge impact!
Is there a Happy Medium?
The first step in holistically treating your horse for ulcers is pretty much the only step. Treat your horse, like a horse. Horses are tolerant and adaptable creatures, it’s what makes them such an incredible and ideal partner. But horses are also stoic creatures, and their willingness to accompany us on such grand adventures often comes at a price. The unnatural lifestyle of modern sport horse may cause your horse chronic gastric pain that he trains through without complaint. Or there may be no question when your horse is having an ulcer flare-up...the pain is so great for some that the signs are unmistakable. The fact is, every horse in training is at drastically increased risk of ulcers. So how can we find that happy medium between the demands of the modern sport horse and the natural requirements of every horse? What’s the missing link?
Bridging the Gap
Sporthorse Apothecary’s Gut Tonic is a healthful solution that offers in one power-packed daily dose, an assortment of over 45 potent herbs and botanicals to bring balance to your horse’s entire GI tract, naturally. Not by stopping normal digestive functions to eliminate symptoms. Not by unnaturally coating the stomach with heavy chemicals. Gut Tonic is a power shot of alkalizing herbs that works synergistically with the digestive process in your horse’s body to soothe and condition his entire GI tract. The unique blend of premium all-natural ingredients has been carefully developed to foster a vibrant and healthful animal from the inside out. When natural balance is restored to a horse’s gut, his entire wellbeing sees the benefits. In fact, dollar-sized dapples are our company trademark!
By making this herbal power shot part of your horses regimen every day, you provide the digestive support he needs to cope with the demands of training and competition, naturally.