Tally your horse’s score
0 to 5: Your horse is currently at a low risk of ulcer formation and should remain so unless he has a significant change in environment, management or health. Don’t become complacent, however: It’s wise to reassess your horse’s risk periodically based on any changes in his lifestyle.
6 to 15: Your horse’s risk of developing ulcers is moderate and there are probably a few adjustments you can make in his management right now to lower it. Consider changes to his diet, if possible, to increase his forage intake and ensure his stomach is never empty. Be judicious with your use of NSAIDs and explore alternatives if your horse needs long-term pain management. And if your horse ever appears unthrifty, fussy or otherwise “off,” he may have ulcers, and you’ll want to work with your veterinarian to rule them out.
16 to 25: Your horse’s ulcer risk is high. If he’s not showing signs of trouble, he may be stoically coping with an aching gut right now. Call your veterinarian for a consultation and possible diagnostic work.
Reading the latest studies on equine ulcers, it may seem like there isn’t a horse in the world who isn’t at risk. And in some respects, that’s true. We tend to feed, house and use horses for our convenience, which doesn’t always square with a healthy equine lifestyle.
But compromise is possible: By regularly assessing your horse’s ulcer risk and taking steps to protect his stomach when that risk is elevated, you can keep him comfortable while enjoying your partnership.