I share are in hopes of helping others… it is not easy in the horse community to put yourself out there and not be judged. Who are we to judge others anyway!? Everyone must find their own way in life, and if we listen…. Our horses will tell us what they need! Horses are our greatest teachers…
As trainers and horse owners we need to consider the horse always, it is much like solving a puzzle… that can change from day to day!
My horse Delicanto “Eli” has the perfect life in my opinion. He gets about 10 hours of turn out in a grass pasture daily with his BFF. When inside, he has a huge stall 20x12 with a large paddock outside attached. I work him 4-5 days a week, (2 on, one day off, then 3 days on, so it’s split up and not 5 days in a row) and one of those days is super easy, with walks around the property, trail rides, in addition to Liberty work and playing games. After a show he will get 3-4 days off minimum.
I try extremely hard to keep things interesting and different for the horses, to keep them happy and interested.
All that being said, over the past year Eli started struggling with basics and started to have issues with his hooves, quarter cracks and sensitivity. His “9” walk disappeared, it became lateral, he was intermittently lame on his RH. Why... nothing changed!?
Well, if you read my first Blog there was some significant issues with a custom saddle, I had made for him. I know now that it contributed more than I ever imagined! I am not saying this was the only contributing factor, but it definitely caused him major discomfort.
He started having major attitude problems at home and at shows. He loves to get in the trailer and hang out with me at shows, but that does not mean that it doesn’t contribute to his stress.
In addition, I received a comment at my last show from the judge, that the horse had attitude issues. I was unable to get our qualifying score for 1-3 which is only a 66%. This horse had been getting at least a 70%. I was incredibly sad we did not qualify for Regional Championships. I was even more worried that there was something seriously wrong with my young handsome boy!
The Monday after the show, which was July 18, 2022, I called my vet first thing in the morning, and said we need to figure out what is wrong with Eli... x-rays, scans, whatever I need to do, I was afraid! My vet asked what happened and what I was noticing... to which he replied let’s start with an endoscopy. I thought... my horse does NOT have ulcers! He is so chill and has the best life ever!!
Well.... my poor boy had Grade 3 (out of 5) Gastric Ulcers present in the pylorus and both the glandular and non-glandular portions of the stomach. I was relieved with the diagnosis because Ulcers can be treated easily!! (Not cheap however)
I gave him 6 weeks off to help with the recovery and did the Gastro Guard Treatment for 6 weeks along with a product that goes into his feed called Relyne. We went on hand walks, and he got body work daily and hung out with his BFF in the pasture!
At his 6-week re-scope he still has Grade 1 Ulcers, and they were just around his pylorus... We did another month of GG. I started riding him again lightly and he felt darn amazing under saddle! I did not realize we had lost so much until we had it back!!
After the Ulcer treatment, I took him back to the same show venue in Santa Fe, NM (which he really does love) and this time our scores in 1-3 over 3 days were:
(I only do 1 class a day with him)
70.69 % …. MY BOY IS BACK!
After the additional month of the GG treatment, the ulcers were gone. So now we spend a month tapering off the GG. For those of you that have tried GG, without scoping your horse… well, I say scope them to be sure. Why give them med’s if they don’t need them. Also, be sure to ask your vet how to properly dose them, it needs to be on an empty stomach and no food for an hour after. It’s just too expensive to waste honestly!
The symptoms for Ulcers from horse to horse can vary SIGNIFICANTLY! Each horse is unique and has a different tolerance for pain. I will undoubtedly get a horse scoped quickly if there are any unexplained issues now.
The photo with second-place ribbon on my boy’s face means a lot to me… we earned a 70.694% with 7 other successful professional’s in the class (First Level test 3). It’s never about the color of the ribbon, it’s the score that matters.
This was a VERY competitive class, and I am SOOO proud of him!
Please educate yourself, there are many sources available online, here is one from American Association of Equine Practitioners.
“Equine gastric ulcers can affect any horse at any age. Up to 90 percent of racehorses and 60 percent of show horses, as well as non-performance horses and even foals are affected by equine gastric ulcers.” By Scott R. McClure, DVM, PhD, Diplomate ACVS, Diplomate ACVSMR
If I know the horse is happy in their life, then I can focus on the training.
Are they happy in their environment?
Do they have friends/companions, this is vital to their soul! (Think about it, how would you like to sit in a car 8 hours with someone you do not necessarily get along with or care for?
Regular teeth maintenance?
A good farrier that knows how to properly balance their feet?
Has the saddle been evaluated by a professional?
Does the bridle and bit fit properly and is it comfortable for them?
How is the horse's diet (no processed grain and quality hay)?
Do they get turn out, and access to pasture?
Do they get regular bodywork?
Does the owner exercise and get regular bodywork?
Happy Riding and be sure to be developing your relationship with your horses for lifelong happiness.