Horse feed

Dealing with gastric ulcers in horses

When we discuss gastric ulcers, what sort of horses come to mind? We tend to think of images of top performers or highly-strung racehorses. However, studies show that ulcers can happen in any pony or horse at any workload. It has become increasingly common for horses to be diagnosed with them. They can happen for a number of reasons, including issues with horse feed, routines, and more.


Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (EGUS) is the term we use to talk about ulcers in the duodenum, stomach, and oesophagus. There are two primary forms.

Firstly, there is glandular. This occurs in the lower portion of the stomach. It is covered in glands capable of secreting a mucus-like material, mucosa, that aids in protecting the lining from acids. When the substance fails, acids are able to irritate the stomach’s lining and produce ulcers.

The second form is squamous. This happens in the stomach’s upper area where there aren’t any glands. There is no mucosa protecting the lining here. When acids splash in the stomach, it causes ulcers on the non-glandular section.


The symptoms of gastric ulcers include reoccurring low grade colic episodes and loss of appetite. Others are poor performance or reluctance to work and dropping weight. Lastly, there is irritable or grumpy behaviour, as well as sensitivity when grooming or girthing around the belly.

Gastric ulcer causes

Next, we will talk about the causes. The information will help you to reduce the risk of issues and make changes such as looking at the horse feed.

How you manage your horses is one of the main ones. When the clocks go back and temperatures drop, we bring horses into the stables at night. Their feeding routines change too. Both can have a big impact.

Horses are always producing stomach acid. Saliva however only gets produced when chewing. It has a buffering effect, so you want to encourage it as much as possible. The chance of ulcers happening goes up if they don’t eat for long stretches.

Other gastric ulcer causes include diet, intense exercise, and stress.

Winter management

Let’s go over how you can manage horses prone to ulcers during winter. One area to focus on is forage and fibre. As our days become shorter and things get colder, horses tend to spend more time stabled and away from the grass. So, they need access to plenty of high quality forage. Horses generate twice the quantity of saliva eating forage if you compare to concentrates.

For anyone with underweight EGUS horses, it is important you have access to forage. Preferably, horses and ponies should get daily turnout. Do this even if it is only a few hours during winter for saving the fields. If you have poor grass, it is wise to offer extra haylage or hay to keep fibre intake up. When stabled, giving your horses big, small-holed nets of decent haylage or hay will keep them occupied chewing most of the day. If you can, supply another net in the evening to see them through.


When winter arrives, a horse’s workload can change. As a result, we need to provide them with the right horse feed for both workload and weight maintenance. When picking bucket feeds for horses likely to have gastric trouble, you should go for a low starch, high fibre and sugar feed without whole cereal grains.

Higher calorie feeds naturally possess high sugar and starch levels. Thus, if your horse needs aid in holding its weight as it gets colder, go for feeds that supply slow-release energy from oil and fibre sources to help with weight maintenance.

For horses capable of holding their weight well, they can benefit from high fibre, low calorie feed. Feeds with pre-biotics and pro-biotics can support healthy digestion.

You can count on us for horse feed and more

At JS Hubbuck Ltd, our job is to ensure customers leave us with products capable of meeting their needs. This is especially important with the likes of feeds and other healthcare items. Without the right food, your animals can develop numerous issues.

So, if you need anything, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.