A horse owner recently contacted us about changing her horse’s diet. She stated that they are ¾ of the way through show season and he is just “off his game”. It seems that the horse was showing a lack of appetite and not finishing his grain. In addition, his disposition became rather grumpy and his performance level was suffering. In addition, a few times he had shown signs of mild colic over the past two months.
We suggested the owner contact her veterinarian, as it sounded like the horse may have an ulcer. The percentage of horses with ulcers continues to increase, and higher intensity levels of training are correlated with an increase in ulcer incidence. The ulcers often occur in the upper third of the stomach, which does not have a mucus layer and does not secrete bicarbonate that helps to buffer stomach acid. In general, horses managed with 24-hour access to well-established, high-quality pasture are less likely to have gastric ulcers; however, studies have shown that the prevalence of squamous ulcers in horses exposed to pasture varies by regions of the U.S. and management. This is likely due to the fact that as a horse grazes, it produces large amounts of saliva, which contain the bicarbonate and amylase needed to provide a buffer for the stomach lining.
Within the week she contacted me and said the horse had been diagnosed with a gastric ulcer. He was now on medication, but we needed to make dietary changes as well. I suggested the following “back to basic” steps to help manage her horse’s condition:
- Allow the horse to be turned out or hand grazed.
- If access to pasture is not possible, good quality hay is a must. Recent studies indicate that legume hay such as alfalfa is an excellent choice due to the high calcium content which may help to serve as a buffer.
- Breaking the daily rations into smaller more frequent meals helps keep saliva production constant and protect the stomach lining – more like “grazers” instead of “meal eaters”. If possible, use a slow feed hay net (also called a nibble net) to allow the horse to consume hay more slowly and increase chewing time. Also, it’s a good idea to feed hay prior to grain.
- High starch diets also tend to aggravate ulcers due to increased acid production. A high fat, high fiber feed is ideal.
- Consider a digestive supplement such as Nutrena Empower Digestive Balance which contains marine sourced calcite. It is a highly porous form of calcium, includes other trace minerals such as magnesium, and has twice the buffering capacity of regular calcium carbonate.
It’s important to remember that all horses are unique and respond differently to stressors. If you can minimize stressors as much as possible, provide your horse with access to pasture and light exercise, offer quality nutrition and forage, you are helping to limit the chance your horse will develop ulcers.
46 Replies to “Using Nutrition to Manage Horses with Gastric Ulcers”
This is all absolutely correct. I have an older horse that has had ulcers several different times until I learned how to manage the problem. He is now on the high fat Triumph w/ added Empower. I also add alfalfa pellets to my feed and give him a flake of alfalfa at night. My vet in Bryan TX, Dr. Cliff Honnas also advised me to put him on Ranitidine (this is a generic brand antacid that you can buy at Sam’s) 13 tablets twice a day. I grind them up and add to his feed, especially if we are going to be gone for several days rodeoing.
CAN YOU TELL ME WHAT THE PERCENTAGE OF STARCH & SUGAR LEVEL IS IN THE SAFE CHOICE
Thank you for checking in with us. SafeChoice Original is a controlled-starch product, at 17% starch and 4% sugar. If you are looking for a “low” starch product, then check out our SafeChoice Senior (14% starch), SafeChoice Special Care (11% starch), or Empower Balance (8% starch).
If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!
Thank you ~ Gina T.
My barrel horse was recently diagnosed with Ulcers. I had been feeding Omolene 500, and noticed that even with Ulcer medication, the Omolene did not settle well with her. I promptly switched her to Nutrena Perform. I’ve really liked the results, as she’s worked daily, and competes nearly every weekend. But, I was interested to know if this was the best feed that Nutrena offers for a situation such as this.
Thanks! I know this thread is old, but I found it after searching the Nutrena page, and believe you’ll be able to help me!
Thanks for checking in, and we’re glad to hear you are seeing results with the SafeChoice Perform! Ulcers can actually as affected by feeding management as they are by the actual feed. One of the main things to do with a horse with ulcers is to provide as much hay/pasture/forage as possible, and also as much turnout time as possible. When feeding grain, feed it in smaller amounts, and also after hay has been fed, to help buffer the stomach.
As for the product, yes – SafeChoice Perform is a good choice for your horse. The high fat level helps to allow you to feed less feed than a lower-calorie feed, which means less grain going in to her.
Hope that helps! ~ Gina T.
My mare had ulcers and I put her on Safe choice special care that has NO corn, a fat supplement, and Ulc R Aid by animeds and she has completely turned around. She even almost completely stopped cribbing. She has put all her weight back on and her coat is slick and shiney finally. Until we figured out it was ulcers, I could not get any weight on her no matter how much I fed her. Although she never quit eating her feed, she would just crib instead of eating any hay when not on grass. Her attitude is so much better as well.
Thank you so much for sharing your success story! It is always nice when our customers let us know how our products are working with their horses!!
I am currently feeding my mare 3lbs/day of Empower Boost and 1lb/day of an alfalfa pellet, (plus her U-Gard and Recovery EQ supplements) along with high quality timothy hay and daily access to grass pasture. She is only a 4 on the body condition scale which I am unhappy with. She is in moderate-high work 5-6 days a week and is turned out 12-14 hours a day. I cannot feed her anything with grain as she is very ulcer prone (treated her with Gastrogard over the winter). What can I feed her to up her caloric intake without feeding her something that will upset her ulcers? All I can think of is beet pulp?? Thank you!!
Hello Elizabeth, The key for your mare will be to provide adequate calories while avoiding upset. You are on the right track with the high fat high fiber diet. You are also doing a great job with the turnout. Based on your work schedule, sounds like we just need to balance the caloric intake.
To gain 1 body condition score over about 60 days you will need to increase her caloric intake by at least 5 Mcal (5000) calories per day. I would suggest adding 5 pounds of alfalfa hay or cubes to the diet. On average alfalfa contain 1MCal per pound. It also will help create bicarb and amylase.
If you weigh out 5 pounds of alfalfa cubes and then soak them, this will also help with hydration issues. I would also suggest adding a vitamin mineral balancer to the diet, Empower Balance will help provide the proper balance of copper, zinc, selenium, A,D, E and added pre and pro biotics that your horse in heavy training will need. Not to mention balance the limiting amino acids needed for muscle mass. You will need to read the tag to determine proper serving size based on your horses weight – about a pound per day on average.
Hope this helps. Thanks for contacting Nutrena!
Gayle M. Reveron, PAS, Equine Specialist
I would like to know what exactly is an ulcer diet. Nutritionally should your horse get the lowest starch, carbohydrates and sugars grain? Lots of turnout and free choice hay? What kind of hay? My horse needs more calories but less grain. I read so many things….I just get more confused. I would like to know what exactly to put him on
Good question Tricia! You are on the right track. It is helpful if horses diagnosed with ulcers can be out on pasture or allowed to consume forage throughout the day. The continuous mastication encourages production of saliva, which contains natural buffers, helping to protect the tissues in the stomach from further damage.
Hay quality is important, whether feeding legume, grass or mixed hay. You mentioned your horse needs calories, so I would suggest an alfalfa or alfalfa mix, as it is higher in calories per pound. The high calcium content is also helpful as a dietary buffer and tends to be very palatable, encouraging continuous intake.
Increasing the feed frequency ( 4-6 small meals per day) is also helpful in keeping saliva production constant and preventing a decrease in gastric pH, therefore protecting the mucosal lining. Also, avoid sudden changes in diet or routine.
As you mentioned you will need to watch the starch and sugar (NSC) content in the feed you chose. Feeds high in NSC promote increased acid and volatile fatty acid production. Look for feeds with controlled starch and sugar technology, as well as highly digestible sources of fiber.
So again, a high fat, high fiber, low NSC diet that is high in calorie should help you monitor your horses ulcer problem while maintaining body weight.
Thank you for contacting Nutrena!
Gayle M. Reveron, PAS, Equine Specialist
Gayle, thank you for the feeding guidelines for horses with ulcers. There are also many medications and treatments available on shelves for the treatment of ulcers. Any recommendations regarding these products?
Hi Amy, We recommend working directly with your veterinarian in this area!
Thanks ~ Gina T.
Vets, I have found, only know about the chemical treatments. All the research I have done on the internet helped me find products that have helped control the ulcers. You have to control them. Once there they will come and go.
U 7 is a great helpful product, using pre- and pro biotics will be necessary. Alfalfa hay/pellets might need to be used.
Hi Kristi! You are so right about continued dietary management. Pre and pro biotics are great help and found in our Safe Choice and Pro Force lines. The addition of alfalfa in the diet add calcium and magnesium which helps to buffer acids. Thanks so much for sharing!
I have a 24-year old horse who was recently hospitalized with colic caused by really bad ulcers. At the hospital they did blood work and his glucose levels were on the higher end of normal. He has been getting Life Design Senior but since it’s being discontinued, I figured it’s about time to switch to something else. Something that won’t aggravate his ulcers or elevate his blood sugar. What are your recommendations?
Good question. The SafeChoice Special Care is lower in NSC (starch and sugar) than SafeChoice Senior (which is replacing the Life Design Senior). We state our starch and sugar levels on the tag, and on our website, for all our premium horse feeds. I was curious if you have had your hay tested for NSC content? If your hay does test high for starch and sugar I recommend soaking it for at least 30 minutes prior to feeding to help reduce the NSC values as well.
You may also want to get your horses blood glucose levels retested once he is home and recovered, as they may have been spiked due to stress.
Gayle Reveron, PAS
Help!! Have a 13 year old horse that is stalled for 3 months because of stress fracture and infection. After two weeks in stall he had colic episode. We took him off grain and he is currently eating alfalfa pellets three times a day soaked and unlimited hay. With all the trauma he is already underweight so how do we keep him healthy and put weight on him through this ordeal. Still have over 2 months to go.
In this instance, a controlled starch, high fat feed such as SafeChoice Original is ideal – but the most important piece in this situation is the feeding management. By this, we mean the schedule – go with several smaller meals per day, as your schedule allows – and also feeding along with plenty of free-choice water, and keeping that unlimited hay supply going.
As soon as hand-walking is allowed, that will can help as well – reducing stress in any way possible.
Hope that helps – beyond this, stick with the advice of your veterinarian! Thank you ~ Gina T.
I surely hope you can help me. I have an eight-year-old TWH/Standardbred rescue mare that is ulcerative and THE pickiest eater on the planet! She has full access to 20+ acres, constant fresh water, plus additional hay morning and night until the grass starts really growing again. The ONLY grain she is even mildly interested in eating lately is straight oats.
She was coming along beautifully in her recovery, until I began taking in more rescues. She’s attached herself to me, and it seems every time another rescue comes in, her attitude–and her condition–suffer. I have her on Omeprazole, as recommended by our vet.
What feed would you recommend that would help her ulcers, and would be palatable enough that even she will eat it?
Thanks so much,
Thank you for your question about your 8 year old TWH/Standardbred rescue mare. It sounds like she has some anxiety issues when other horses are introduced, not uncommon in the situation you describe.
If she is prone to ulcers, which can produce very picky eating behavior, I would consider the following:
1. Use a fairly fine textured good quality alfalfa or alfalfa grass hay as the alfalfa is generally quite palatable and the calcium and magnesium levels in the hay provide a buffering effect for stomach acid.
2. Try to make sure she has controlled access to the hay so that she has to eat over a longer period of time. This encourages saliva production, which also helps buffer the stomach. Steady grazing also helps, depending on the quality of the pasture. Appropriate hay net or multiple feedings per day may be useful.
3. We have had success using our Senior horse feeds (SafeChoice Senior) for rescue horses. Very palatable and very safe in terms of controlled starch, added oil and digestible fiber. Actually safer than oats and more palatable for many horses.
4. She will probably require a little extra attention when new horses are introduced to help overcome insecurity. Definite emotional and territorial challenge.
Make sure she has loose salt available free choice and access to fresh clean water at all times.
Worst possible combo. Retired from showing 20 year old 37″ mini mare with ulcers. I swear she can get fat on air! I board, so I put her hay into large paint buckets so the feeders do not throw in a !flake! of alfalfa. One bucket per feeding. She is grumpy and under motivated when I drive her every other week. I drive my shetland on the alternating weekends. I try to tie them out on the grass for about 30 minutes every weekend because there is no other grazing available here in sunny but dry southern california. I am not happy with her vigor on the mini/pony feed I supplement her with when I come to the stable every night after work. She has about 3 or 4 colics due to her ulcers every year. Do you have a safe feed for this situation?
Hello Eileen, This is a definite challenge. There are a couple of issues to consider. Providing your mini mare with some almost continuous “grazing” would be beneficial to help reduce impact of ulcers and might be a benefit in reducing colic. You also want to provide her with adequate amino acids, vitamins and trace minerals. I would suggest seeing if you can get a hay net with very small holes in the netting and put her limited amount of hay in this net when fed so that she has to “graze” for a long time to eat her hay. This will encourage her to chew for longer periods of time and produce more saliva, which has a buffering effect on the stomach. I would also try to get a low energy grass hay so that the calorie intake is controlled.
To go along with this, I would use a balancer type product that is also controlled starch and sugar. Our Nutrena product would be Empower Balance. You could also use SafeChoice Special Care, fed according to weight instructions. She will also need loose salt free choice and access to fresh clean water at all times.
Thank you ~ Roy J.
I recently switched to Safe Choice feeds. I have a TWH gelding who was hospitalized a year ago with extreme colic from ulcers. Didn’t know he had ulcers, as a supplement I fed masked the…, until I decided to change to a different one. After he came home from the vets, I took him off Ultium and put him on strictly alfalfa pellets for a ‘feed’. Then in November my barrel mare was acting poorly and losing weight. She’s been a mystery since I bought her, whittling down the issues. I started her on the same treatment my vet had prescribed for the TWH. I also started her on 2 ounces of Aloe Vera juice at each feeding (and still use it for both as my only ulcer maintenance ‘drug’). Then I moved her from alfalfa pellets/Ultium to alfalfa pellets/oats. I saw amazing results & she was eating again, but just wasn’t filling out. Also, these horses are only stalled to be fed… so technically pasture horses and the TWH is really a pasture pet because my husband hardly ever rides.
I started doing more research on ulcers and wanted something with pre/probiotics. I came up with Safe Choice. I picked up the Performance formula and also the Empower. She gets about 5# of feed at a time (twice daily), but 2# is alfalfa pellets & 2# is Empower. She still gets the aloe, too. She looks amazing and has turned into a feed vacuum when before I was lucky if she’d finish her feed within a couple if hours or at all. She’s Appendix QH and definitely favors the TB half so any bit of weight loss is instantly noticeable! The TWH gelding is also doing awesome, but he only gets about a pound of alfalfa pellets & half a pound of Safe Choice.
Another life saver are slow feed nets. I have netted coastal round bales in the pasture at all times (no grass). I have netted bale flakes in the trailer (no horse is hauled without hay or goes anywhere without hay available any longer), and we also have whole square bale nets for one horse without access to the round bale.
Very pleased with how my 2 ulcer kids have progressed and very thankful for the Safe Choice formulas + Empower! Just wanted to share my experiences.
I hav e been through the ulcer nightmare. My horse is ulcer free and gets Safe Choice Special care mixed with SafeChoice Sr. She gets pasture and feels good. Also give alfalfa cubes soaked.
Ulcers are such a tough problem and so common, I used a product from JUR Equine because it was all natural and recommended to me. It solved the problem immediately and I could afford it. As a bonus my horse loves it. I got mine here:
I have a 21 year old paint that the vet says may have ulcers. I am feeding safe choice maintenance. He is on grass hay and feed twice a day, small turn out most of the day. My vet told me to give him neigh lox I started that last friday and last night he was laying down and kicking at his belly. I am unsure if I should take him off of feed. I have read many articles and can’t figure out what is best for him. Any help would be great! Not sure if I should stop the feed and give more hay… so stressful
Hello Rhaelyn, You may want to ask your vet to scope your horse and be sure it is an ulcer if you have not already done so. If your horse was laying down and kicking his belly it could possibly be colic and it would be best to contact your vet. You may also want to check your horse surroundings and turnout for any possible trees and plants that are mildly poisonous to horses as they can have similar symptoms of colic.
We recommend horses with ulcers get plenty of free choice hay and free turnout (all day grazing if possible). When horses chew they produce saliva which helps to buffer the stomach. Horses continually product gastric acid so when they are stalled and only chew 3-4 hours a day they are not producing enough saliva to buffer the stomach. Allowing free choice hay and grazing will give the horse more chewing time to produce more saliva to help buffer the stomach. You want to be sure to feed good quality hay as well especially because hay makes up the majority of the diet. Hay that is baled too mature is high in lignin which horses can’t digest. Hay baled too mature or poor quality hay increases risk of impaction colic especially without enough water. You may also want to track how much water your horse is drinking daily to be sure he is drinking enough.
SafeChoice Maintenance is a lower controlled starch/sugar feed and is higher fiber which is a good choice for horses with ulcers. You want to be sure to feed within the recommended amount to get the full nutritional benefits of the feed and split it into at least two meals a day. For horses with ulcers it is even better if you can split it into 3 – 4 meals a day. If your horse has an ulcer then he may show pain when eating or not clean up his feed and could start to lose weight. If he is not eating well, losing weight, or a bit of a hard keeper then the SafeChoice Original with Empower Boost or Pro Force Fuel may be a better choice. All of these feeds also contain prebiotics and probiotics which help to improve digestion and nutrient absorption and keep the hind gut healthy.
Please let us know if you have more questions and we will be happy to help! Thank you ~ Gina T.
I have a 4 yr old filly that I recently purchased, off the track, and now in barrel training. I just recently had to take her to the vet for signs of colic. She was diagnosed with ulcers and ended up having an impaction. She pasted the impaction and is doing really well so will go back into training in a few days. My vet said she needed to be on low starch/ low sugar diet with alfalfa and pasture turn out if possible. He also said I didn’t want a feed with corn in it. Well in training she’ll have a stall with a run with free choice hay but not turned out on pasture. From my research of feeds I decided to purchase Safe Choice Special Care and a bag of alfalfa pellets. My concern is will this be enough while in training (feed wise) for her. I don’t want her to start losing weight. Would Perform be too much for her? I really liked that one but wasn’t sure.
Hi Sandra! I am glad to hear your mare is doing better.
Your vet is giving you great advice. Horse’s with ulcers do well on high fat, high fiber, low starch and sugar diets. Special Care is a no corn formula and will work well for your horse if you follow the feeding directions on the bag. You can also supplement the diet with added fat such as Progressive Nutrition’s Envision product.
As for the Alfalfa, you did not mention how much you were feeding. The general rule of thumb is 2% of the horses body weight in forage per day. I prefer using cubes over the pellets, as they provide a little longer fiber which requires more chewing, this, of course, helps to create more saliva to buffer the acid in the horse’s stomach. The soaked alfalfa cubes also help to keep the horse hydrated and minimize the chances of impaction colic. I like to use at least 5 pounds (dry weight) of alfalfa cubes per day, soaked, as part of the daily forage requirements for horses with ulcers.
I feel that your use of Safe Choice Special Care, alfalfa and added fat if needed for added energy will work well to help you manage your mares ulcer issues. Thank you for contacting Nutrena ~ Gayle M. Reveron, PAS
My App gelding is n/h positive for HYPP and has an ulcer. I feed him oats and Cool Calories along with all the hay that he wants and his Smart Digest Ultra but he’s still pretty cranky. Could it be the oats? He’s extremely sensitive to the potassium in every feed that I’ve tried…hence the oats. He gets 1 lb. of oats three times per day.
Hi! I have just recently purchased a new barrel horse. She is 5 years old and has been showing signs of stomach and hind gut ulcers. I have been speaking with my vet and she is saying the same thing about her. All of the research I have done is just mind boggling and some are just not sufficient to do. I am a student, work 12 hours 3 day a week and barrel race mostly on weekends but go do bigger longer shows in the summer. I want to give my horses every advantage I can and the best care. Through my research I happened upon this site and didn’t realize SafeChoice made feeds for horses with ulcers. But that being said what could I do to be able to keep her in training, building her muscles, running in shows and still keep the ulcers away? They are pastured in the day and only stabled to feed at night then turned back out in the warmer months. At shows, in the trailer or stalled they have nibble nets for their hay and I have just been told that aloe works great also so I will be giving that I try when I can figure out a feed plan that wont let her lose the weight and muscle she has. Any help you can provide would be great.
Hi Morgan! We are happy to help. It sounds like you and your horse are both very busy! I am glad to hear that you have been working with your veterinarian and are taking a proactive approach prior to your big summer show season. You are doing a lot of good things for your mare such as pasture and nibble nets for hay.
On the concentrate side of your horse’s diet I would recommend ProForce Fuel. It is a highly versatile, controlled starch feed. Fuel is a unique combination of pellets and the Empower Boost extruded nugget.
You will need to follow the suggested feed rate on the tag, for her weight and activity level. You did not mention what type of hay you are feeding, but if possible I would also supplement the diet with alfalfa cubes (soaked). An additional 3 pounds of alfalfa cubes (dry weight) will help provide your horse with quality forage that is high in calcium and magnesium, to buffer acid which causes ulcers. The soaked cubes also help to keep your horse hydrated.
As with any changes to hay or concentrate, make these changes over a 7-10 day period. I encourage changing the concentrate first, then when complete begin adding the alfalfa cubes to the diet. Start with 1/2 pound (dry weight) per day and every 3 days increase by 1/2 pound until you are at 3 per day. I do not like to make any dietary changes at more than 1/2 increments.
I hope this helps! Thanks for contacting Nutrena and best wishes this show season!
Gayle M. Reveron, PAS
I currently purchased a 9 yr old mare that showed signs of colic when fed. She is about 300lbs under weight. I am currently giving her U-guard and have her turned out in pasture 24-7. She has access to clean water, salt and mineral blocks. I have had her scoped and her ulcers are severe. I have started to feed her safe choice senior. Im leery about feeding alot since not even a quart of feed made her colic. So far so good with safe choice! I have only fed her a quart once a day for the past 5 days. I really need to put weight on her tho and i understand its a slow process i am able to feed twice daily due to my work schedule. Is the senior feed the best choice? My vet recommended feeding 12 lbs a day my mare tapes at 870 lbs…im not sure how to go about feeding that much, truthfully im a little scared to. Any suggestions on feeding amounts would be greatly appreciated!!!
I am glad to hear you are taking a proactive approach for your mare with your veterinarian. The use of ulcer medications along with 24/7 pasture is also a great help.
To begin the process of weight gain we need to use caution. Your vet is correct on the feed rate, and the SafeChoice Senior is an excellent choice as it is high in fat and fiber which is the foundation of diets for horses with ulcers, and also has increased pre and probiotics to aid in nutrient utilization. You are correct that we need to reach that daily rate over a period of time.
I recommend increasing your mare’s daily ration by 1/2 (one half) pound every other day until you are at the recommended feed rate. This should be divided into equal feedings 2 or 3 times per day.
I know you mentioned you work schedule, and this poses a challenge for many of us, but if you could do 3rd feeding late in the evening, this would be beneficial to your mare. A horses’ stomach in small in proportion to their overall size and I do not like to recommend feeding more than 5 pounds of any concert ate at one time. If you were able to split the feedings into 3 meals a day: before work, after work and late evening your mare would reduce her risk of ulcers through smaller frequent meals and better utilize the fortification in her feed.
Continue to work with your veterinarian to monitor her progress and feel free to contact me if you have additional questions.
Thank you for contacting Nutrena World!
I have many horses and have dealt with ulcers in the past, I acquired an OTTB mare that is a weavers and she wind sucks ( sucks air rather than puts her teeth on something to crib, she just stands in themiddle of the pasture and does this) anyway,she was on 1/2 Purina Senior and 1/2 Durmor Equistages.. which she had gained. i had her teeth done on a Saturday and she feel while tranquilized, she wasn’t injured but the vet advised to give her 10 cc of Banamine and administed 10 cc’s . The next morning, the mare was worked lightly and within an hour of finishing her work, she was showing signs of a mild colic. anxious, looking at sides, laying down but not rolling and finally she started stretching repeatedly. I called the vet with her complete vitals ( i.e. gut sounds in all 4 quarters, cap refil, heart rate, resp rate, gum color, hydration level ) she advised to administer 10 cc of Banamine, wait 30 minutes and calll her.. i did, the banamine seemed to make the mare worse, which instantly made me consider ulcers( NSaids can aggravate ulcers) , her gut sounds were now rapid, passing gas, passing manure, still actively stretching and now wanting to roll when laying down rather than lay quietly, to top it all of, the heat index was 110, the actual temp was 100.. and putting her under fans wasn’t an option due to the fact she would not lay quietly. She was only stalled about 4 hours a day… spending the majority of time in a 4 acre pasture with other horses, on grass, with free choice Bermuda hay, with access to salt blocks, mineral blocks, and fresh water. Anyway, it was determined that she had ulcers, fairly servere, so she was given iv meds, and started on oral meds.. she did 30 days.. and we switched her to Safe Choice Maintenance and then Original… she is now on original, with alfalfa pellets ( 6 cups a day) rice bran ( 4 cups a day) and soaked beet pulp, she has almost entirely quit wind sucking, she has gained a tremendous amount of weight ( and we had tried cool stance for 5 months before the switch to the senior/equistages plus rice bran.. i feed everything rice bran, if they are young, or in foal, then they get alfalfa to balance ) anyway, she has thrived on the new feed.. granted we have helped control her ulcers with medication, but it turns out she has been treated before at the track.. and still was hard to keep weight on.. part of the reason she retired sound after winning her last race and consistently hitting the board.. anyway, I am very pleased with the way it is working. I fed Safe Choice for years after it originally came out, but eventually switched away from it.. and now, it is a part of my feed for everything ( safe choice original, maintenance, as well as a locally milled 10 % sweet, rice bran, alfalfa pellets, and rice bran) I have found that even my 30 year old pony is doing well, actually better than he was on Purina Senior.. he chokes so all of his feed has to made into soup and it dissolves much easier.. plus he gets soaked alfalfa pellets and soaked beet pulp since he is also not allowed any hay.. I am feeding OTTB’s, Arabians, Quarter horses, and one elderly Section B welsh pony… and couldn’t be more pleased.. It has a lower starch than many similiar feeds, which is good for horses with ulcers, it has a good level of fat, but I use rice bran to increase the level of fat without having to feed higher amounts of grain.. all of the horses spend the vast majority of their time on grass, plus we keep hay available at all times for all horses except for the pony.. I have seen an improvement in hooves, weight and coat.. thanks
I just want to say your horses are very fortunate to have an owner that is working so hard to help them maintain a healthy diet. You are absolutely right feeding a diet high in fiber and chew time to increase saliva production. The addition of alfalfa to a diet helps with calcium and magnesium to buffer acid as well as a good source of amino acids that are low in starch and sugar. Fat as you mentioned is also a great way to safely add calories.
Balancing the diet with a concentrate that provides pre and pro biotics, guaranteed levels of lysine, methionine and threonine, not to mention copper, zinc and selenium, help to keep your horses at a proper weight, great coat condition and healthy hooves, as you have seen.
Again you are doing a great job. What you are mixing for your horses sounds much like our Pro Force line – Fuel and Senior. I am curious if you have had the opportunity to try the product?
Thank you so much for sharing your success story!!
Hi. My 5 yr old barrel
Horse has ulcers. I have him on the safe choice original. Some grains he gets hot on. Doing a round of ulcer treatment. Curious if this grain is good for him? Thanks
There are many things, management, stress, nutrition that can contribute to Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome. It’s recommended to work with a trusted vet to ensure correct diagnosis, and to understand the severity of the ulceration. That will dictate what the best course of treatment and prevention is. SafeChoice Original is a great controlled starch and sugar formula. Without having any other information, assuming SafeChoice Original is being fed at recommended amounts, the horse has desirable body condition and topline, and performing up to expectations, then it is an appropriate feed for your horse. If any of these criteria are not met, then an alternative feed might be worth exploring. Toplinebalance.com could help you figure that out.
Here are some additional considerations:
-Also make sure to providing good quality roughage throughout the day. This helps mitigate stress, and the constant chewing encourages saliva production. Saliva contains natural bicarbonate buffers that help buffer the stomach. The saliva produced also helps to coat and lubricate the GI tract. Providing Alfalfa hay has also been demonstrated to help provide a buffering effect in the stomach due to the higher calcium content compared to other forages (e.g. grass hays).
-Minimizing stall confinement as much as possible.
-Provide frequent small meals thought out the day if possible.
-Minimize social stress (having buddy to be turned out with and to travel with, reducing pecking order stress at meal time, sticking to a routine and consistent management even when traveling).
Best of luck!
We have a 30 yrs old mare, we noticed very loud gut sounds and diarrhea. We tried pepto and then immodium without success. My husband went to feed her breakfast and seen that she had a prolapsed rectum. We took her to the first vet and he suggested we put her down due to her age:( She has also been a hard keeper and an equine vet pulled three of her back teeth 3 years ago, so feeding her has been a challenge but not bad enough to put her down. So we declined his advice and took her to another vet, this vet pushed her rectum back in and gave us a tube of something to stop the diarrhea and meds for inflamation and pain. Her bowel movements have become a tad thicker but not enough. Can you give us any suggestions on feed and meds to help her. If she was NOT greeting us daily and looking at us with her lively beautiful brown eyes, we would not hesitate to put her down but she is full of life…she just needs me to give her the right food and medstuff. Please help us if you can, your advice is what we need. Blessings to you for all you do on this blog.
So sorry to hear about your mare. We recommend that you take the advice of your equine veterinarian on medication following prolapse. If the mare only has 3 teeth left, are you giving her some type of chopped hay or soaking a senior complete pellet? A senior horse with GI issues under veterinary care should follow veterinary recommendations. If you are looking to try a Senior Feed, a good option would be Safe Choice Senior and use the mash directions. Slowly introduce the feed after consulting your veterinarian to understand any restrictions or special feeding considerations.
Wishing you the best of luck!
Hi, not sure if this is still active… but I have a question. I have an OTTB who has ulcers… both fore and hind gut. He does not absorb nutrition no matter how much I feed. He always looks emaciated. He is also a high energy horse. He is a pasture pal and is not currently ridden. I rarely see him at rest. He is always on the move. Even at night while the mares are laid out sleeping he will pace around them ensuring they are safe. He is easily energized by anything with any sugars or anything with molasses added. I am currently feeding Safe Choice Original. He gets 2 full scoops twice daily, alfalfa flake at night, and is on Succeed (for ulcers) which works better for both fore and hind gut issues (according to my vet). He is on pasture grazing, but our grass in N. Central Florida is Pensacola Bahaia. I have considered switching him to Proforce Fiber and adding Empower boost…. but the high starch level in the Empower boost concerns me. I need help trying to determine what combinations would help him most.
Off track Thoroughbreds can present some interesting feeding challenges. I would want to increase his intake of alfalfa hay/alfalfa pellets if possible. If we assume target weight for him of say 1200 pounds, and total dry matter intake of say 2.5%, then about 1+% in alfalfa might be my target, which would be 12 pounds per day, and higher would be OK and I would like it to be fed at least 2X per day. The extra calcium and magnesium in the alfalfa would also provide some buffering, which would be beneficial for the ulcers. The SafeChoice Original is a good option, but switching to ProForce Fiber would also be a good option to consider. The moderate feeding rate of Empower Boost does not add a lot of starch to the total diet compared to the amount of fat. If you wanted to use alfalfa cubes/pellets instead of alfalfa hay, it is pretty common to add some vegetable oil to the cubes as one way to get additional calories from fat into the diet to both help weight gain and, in some cases, have a bit of calming effect.
” It is also interesting to note that ulcers have not been founded on pastured horses. ” This statement is incorrect, or I have the only pastured horse with ulcers. My mare has both gastric and colonic ulcers and was on pasture only until I had to pull her off due to weight gain.
Thank you for catching this statement and bringing it to our attention. We agree that this could be misinterpreted and are in the process of correcting it.
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