The equine industry is incredibly diverse, from the hunter/jumper and eventing circuits to the western performance world, to local horse show weekenders, and the pleasure trailblazers. In the wide range of activities that we can do with our horse, a healthy stomach is very important for every horse, regardless of their work level.
Why do you think considering your horse’s stomach health should be top of mind?
The answer: “Every effort to ensure better digestion, the breakdown of feedstuffs, and absorption, the movement of nutrients broken down from feedstuffs into the body for utilization, is beneficial for the horse. The horse’s stomach and small intestine function similarly to our own. The relatively small size and capacity for digestion must be accounted for in feeding and management practices.”
Ulcers are among the top health challenges in the horse industry. The prevalence of stomach ulcers can have an impact on the horses’ health, temperament, and performance. Modern horse keeping practices can increase a horse’s likelihood of developing ulcers.
These rank among the top reasons ulcers develop:
- · Eating too much grain and too little hay
- · Intense exercise
- · Stress
- · Frequent travel
Dr. Appleton continued, “Offering good quality hay and/or grazing for longer periods of time can help prevent and alleviate symptoms. The physical act of chewing generates saliva production. The saliva serves to lubricate the feed/roughage bolus when swallowed and it helps to buffer acids produced in the stomach. Also, having some roughage in the stomach helps to keep the acid in the areas of the stomach which have protective coatings and prevent it from damaging the unprotected tissues where ulcers often form.”
Additionally, Dr. Appleton said, “Feeding several, smaller meals per day will help the horse’s stomach do a better job of breaking down the feedstuffs into the forms that are best absorbed. Supplements can play a role in this process as well. For example, enzymes, organic acids, and some bioactive (plant-based compounds) can assist in the breakdown of feedstuffs, protect the integrity of the gut lining, and support circulation. Supplements can also support normal healing and stomach tissue health.”
Dr. Appleton added, “Some of the most effective ingredients commonly included in gastric health supplements include calcium, which neutralizes stomach acid and collagen is another that helps support normal tissue healing. Pectin and lecithin, aloe vera, and other mucilages help coat, soothe, and protect stomach tissues. A large variety of bioactives from plants are also effective in promoting comfort and providing relief. Examples of some plant-based ingredients include sea buckthorn, marshmallow root, gamma oryzanol from rice bran oil, licorice, and slippery elm.”
Recommendation: SmartGut Ultra Pellets
SmartPak’s SmartGut Ultra Pellets offer soothing relief and support for horses living in a stall; experiencing stress from training;competition; or travel; and those prone to ulcers.
This research-backed formula includes a variety of plant-based compounds that naturally support stomach health and tissue healing. Calcium and magnesium carbonate are part of the blend and help maintain a normal stomach pH.
Keep following along in the SmartPak Ask a Pro series as we cover a wide range of equine health care and supplement topics here!