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SCHOOL WITH LAURA BECHTOLSHEIMER

TeHquine r Ou

HARRY MEADE HOW TO JUMP A CORNER

horse your

INSPIRATION FOR OWNING AND ENJOYING HORSES

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BRITAIN’S BEST-SELLING EQUESTRIAN MONTHLY

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BEAT 7SPOOKING WAYS TO

AT DERBY HOUSE when you spend £80 or more

£3.70 ISSUE 322 21 May-17 June 2009

Police riders show you how REAL LIFE

‘How Tango helps me cope with diabetes’ ENDURANCE RIDING

All the skills you need to get started RIDER CLINIC

Instructor Jill Storey helps improve your confidence and balance

HORSE ANSWERS

Plus natural horsemanship EXPERT ANSWERS special

36

PRODUCTS

£O1F4FR0EE0 KIT TO BE WON

Leg cooling gels tested, buyers’ guide to summer sheets and dressage CDs


NEWS REPORT

Stamp of approval Boots can cause as many problems as they solve, so would a recognised standard help protect our horses? Investigation by Imogen Johnson

A

recent equine leg protection seminar got industry tongues wagging and minds racing when it suggested the need to set minimum protection standards on equine leg boots. Experts at Equilibrium believe not enough consideration is given to the level of protection and performance offered by many boots on the market, and chose

It’s easy to knock a pole

Just how important are boots to you?

seminar and decided it was the right thing to do to get the industry talking and to make the public aware.” Margaret hopes that, by informing people of the inadequate protection boots can offer, consumers will be able to make a more informed choice when buying.

to make their concerns public. Their tests, on a range of boots and brands, revealed risks Horses’ legs have minimal caused by lack of ventilation, muscle coverage to allow for inflexibility, moisture retention greater movement, flexion and and weight as well as more efficient use of energy. inadequate protection. There is, therefore, less When we buy a new riding protection for the joints, bones, hat, we don’t think twice about ligaments and nerves, which ensuring it’s the right standard. Our head is important, we can’t is why the majority of equine injuries occur in the limbs, function without it, so we need especially in the lower parts. the best protection on offer. Inadequate boots could put But how much do we really horses at risk of accidental know about the boots we buy injury or stress-related injuries for our horses? They couldn’t associated with training. function without their legs, Boots should offer so are we blind to risks? protection when Margaret Donnelly, needed most, but from Equilibrium how do you know if Products, explains e th r e tt o h The s, e m they are effective? why the company co e b horses leg the risk Margaret believes held the seminar. r te a the gre ndon if the British “It was never our of killing te ing sk Equestrian Trade intention to hold a cells and ri n o Association (BETA) seminar highlighting inflammati could put a voluntary this information, or to or compulsory standard say that other brands need on boots, as they did for body to test their boots. But, as data protectors, companies could started to build up while submit boots for testing until testing our own boots against they reached the appropriate others, we began seeing an standard. Consumers would alarming amount of clearly be able to see on boot discrepancies in the protection packaging, the level of offered by some boots,” she protection offered. says. “We thought long and “At the moment, when you hard about holding the

What are the risks?

Fact

16 YOUR HORSE

Whether your horse is likely to suffer an injury, and therefore needs protective boots, depends on the discipline in which you compete or train, the level of competition or training and the intensity of the activity. Some equestrian sports, such as cross-country and show jumping, present greater risks than others. Cross-country, show jumping and National Hunt racing each put horses at risk of limb injury from hitting fences or falling, while polo risks the horse being hit Even with boots by the ball, or on horses can become injured players’ mallets Horses can also be vulnerable to injury by over-reaching, brushing, trauma from falling or tripping even when there’s not a jump in sight.

Just bad boots The type of boots you use on your horse could also cause problems – inflicting the damage you’re trying to prevent. �Raised temperature retention is caused by poorly ventilated boots – the hotter the horse’s leg becomes, the greater the risk of killing tendon cells and risking inflammation �Lack of boot flexibility – stiffness or tightness can compromise limb movement, cause injury to soft tissue and impact on tendon function �Moisture trapped between boot and skin may make the skin hyper-hydrated. Wet skin can’t breathe and is at greater risk of abrasions and fungal or bacterial infections �Materials such as, sand and mud can get trapped between boot and skin, risking cuts and painful pressure �Incorrectly or tightly applied boots can restrict blood flow to the leg. Increased weight on the leg requires the horse to use more energy, risking strain www.yourhorse.co.uk


Cross-country fences pose a big risk to legs

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YOUR HORSE 17


Alikesport no other PART

1

Endurance riding is one of the fastest growing sports in the UK. A fantastic discipline, it’s also a great way to keep you and your horse fit. It’s easy to get involved, as Your Horse writer Rebecca Gibson found out.

W

hen I was challenged by the Your Horse team to complete a 32km training ride, I couldn’t believe my luck – I’ve always wanted to give endurance riding a go. But as my excitement subsided, it began to dawn on me that 32km, or 20 miles, is quite a long way to ride. Also, I hadn’t a clue how to get started, or what training I would need! I got straight on the Endurance GB (EGB) website which was packed with tips and advice as well as a list of upcoming rides. From this list, I selected a suitable ride through the stunning scenery of the King’s Forest, in Suffolk. Via the website I was also able to get in touch with the ride organiser and endurance guru, Dianne Luke. Dianne has been taking part in endurance rides for more than two decades and now regularly organises rides on behalf of her local endurance group, Anglian Distance Riders, as well as EGB. Dianne signed me up for the King’s Forest ride and agreed to show me the ropes. “Just like dressage and eventing, there are different levels at which you can participate,” Dianne explains. Non-competitive training rides cover a distance up to 40km and are a great place to start. Competitive rides are divided into three categories – Novice, Open and Advanced. Novice competitive rides cover between 30 and 50km with Advanced rides over more than 160km. For some, participating in non-competitive training – or pleasure rides, as they’re also known – may be satisfying enough. For a greater challenge, you can move up through the ranks as you and your horse gain experience. Newcomers to the sport, are only allowed to participate in non-competitive training rides or competitive rides covering a distance no more than 30 to 50km. The pace is also restricted – novice rider and horse combinations have to complete the distance between 8kph and 15kph

26 YOUR HORSE

or be eliminated. As well as the riders, inexperienced horses are also restricted. If the horse and rider are at different levels, they have to abide by the rules for the lowest common denominator. So a Novice horse ridden by an Advanced rider would have to abide by novice rules, as would an Advanced horse ridden by a Novice rider. “All of the rules enforced by EGB are carefully designed to ensure both horse and rider are up to the challenge,” Dianne says. At the lower levels, endurance riding is not a race against the other horse and rider combinations, it is an agility challenge that is ultimately designed to prepare the horse and rider for longer distances. There is no winner, instead horses are graded according to their heart rate at the end of the course. To get a feel for the terrain, Dianne invited me to train with her in the forest. My steed for the day was Dianne’s chestnut Anglo Arab, Carleton Moonlight – Moo for short. At 27, Moo has been retired from long distance riding, but still enjoys the odd pleasure ride. On her Advanced Arab mare Rzeka, Dianne led me round a 16km loop of the forest, expertly guiding me along tracks that all looked

Get involved Contact EGB for an information pack, or find the ride organiser on the EGB website and get in touch directly – they can provide an entry form. On receiving this, the organiser will issue details of the route (including a map), a vet inspection time, start time and ride number. For rides in Scotland contact the Scottish Endurance Riding Club (SERC). Visit the EGB website at www. endurancegb.co.uk or telephone 02476 697929. For SERC go to www.scottishendurance.com www.yourhorse.co.uk


turn the page for endurance ride fitness tips

www.yourhorse.co.uk

YOUR HORSE 27


confidence

crisis An accident that caused Alison Goulstone’s left knee to become permanently weakened has left her feeling insecure in the saddle

RIDER CLINIC

Words Rebecca Gibson

alison goulstone and ola Two years ago I was clipping a friend’s horse when I got kicked. The blow caught me right on the knee and caused the joint to shatter. I had two operations where surgeons used metal plates and screws to re-build it. I was told I’d always walk with a limp and would probably never ride again. However, I was determined to get back in the saddle and just three months after the accident I was back on a horse, but it wasn’t until nine months ago that I started riding again properly. Wanting to re-build my confidence in horses and reignite my passion for riding, my mum bought me a safe school mistress called Ola. Since Ola came along, my confidence has come on leaps and bounds, but I still feel that my balance is an issue. I don’t have as much movement in my injured knee and it’s not a strong as it used to be so maintaining a stable jumping position can be a problem.

THE EXPERT Jill Storey Jill is director of riding at Stonar Equestrian Centre and a qualified BHSI instructor. She trains riders of all abilities and past pupils include Georgie Spence and Lucy Wiegersma. Although she no longer competes, Jill was on the BE Junior Team and has competed internationally at three star level.

36 YOUR HORSE

Jill with Ola and Alison

www.yourhorse.co.uk


IN ASSOCIATION WITH Your Horse clinic 0845 331 3080, www.amtrustequine.co.uk A knee injury means Alison finds it hard to maintain a stable jumping position

Getting started

After discussing the physical limitations of Alison’s injured knee, Jill asks her to warm up exactly as she would do at home. Alison rides lots of circles in walk, trot and canter, then Jill calls her in to talk about which areas are good and what needs to be worked on. “You have a lovely position” Jill tells Alison, “and Ola’s canter is nice and adjustable – she can shorten and lengthen nicely. But to help improve her balance, you need to sit a little more forward from the hip. You also want to have your reins a little shorter, but don’t let her lean on your hands. At the moment she’s letting you carry her a little. If you can get her to balance herself properly, it will help you stay in balance too.”

Thinking forward To help Alison get Ola going forward off her leg, Jill asks her to ride some walk, canter transitions. “I want you to really think about asking for canter with your seat,” Jill says. The first transition is a little laboured and Alison has to use her stick to send Ola forwards, but soon Ola gets the idea and Alison only has to think about cantering to get a reaction. Soon Ola is anticipating Alison’s aids for canter and even trying to pre-empt her. “OK we’ll leave it there,” Jill says. “She’s definitely thinking forwards now and we don’t want to get her too revved up. The canter is much more up-hill and her hocks are now properly engaged. This will help make her carry herself and improve her, and your, balance.” At first Ola is slow to react to Alison’s leg

rse Your Hioc clin rt in the

e pa gen ke to tak If you’d li Clinic, email Imo @ e n o rs s o Your H at imogen.john oling Johnson .co.uk with Scho e, dia t lin bauerme ing in the subjec ing p go ll m a Ju ’s it or s where n and tell u r you. A solutio wrong fo e just around could b er! the corn

www.yourhorse.co.uk

Riding walk to canter transitions help to achieve a more active, up-hill canter

� YOUR HORSE 37


celebrity

horse answers THIS MONTH

This month’s expert is International rider Anna Ross Davies who answers your dressage questions The music for Richard Davison 2009 Grand Prix dressage to music routine a was recorded by the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

HORSE CARE

Anna has trained all of her top horses herself, including the hugely successful Liebling II

Patience is a virtue

Q A

How long does it take to train a horse to Grand Prix level? Carry, on email

I would say it usually takes around four to five years to reach Grand Prix level, depending on the horse. Liebling II has to be my favourite horse but, when he came to me, he was a very naughty three-year-old Holstein. I spent seven years training him and competed him from his first prelim to eventually 10th and the top British combination at the European Dressage Championships in 2007. I rode my first international on him when he was six years old and I won my first International Grand Prix on him in 2007. I rode on the British team with him for two years and he was the non travelling reserve for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Liebling II has since moved on to a new rider, Carl Hester, who has also been successful with him.

RIDING

Q A

What’s the key to a successful dressage to music test? Sylvi, on email Not only do you need to have music that suits the character of your horse, it also needs to embody the competition you’re at and suit the mood of the moment. Rather than just playing along in the background, the music should really reflect the movements you’re riding. I always pick music that has a variety of pace and emotion for exactly that reason. You need to be creative and give a lot of thought as to how you can use the crescendos and phrasing to help illuminate your horse’s performance.

62 YOUR HORSE

Pic: Kevin Sparrow

Picking the right music

Horses make great colleagues!

RIDING

What’s it like at the top?

Q A

What do you enjoy most about being a professional dressage rider? What do you enjoy least? Sharon, on email

I love everything about being a professional rider. I love horses and think myself very lucky to be able to work with them everyday. Riding, coaching and training the youngsters – it’s all great fun.

www.yourhorse.co.uk


celebrity horse answers

RIDING

What’s your favourite venue?

Q

What’s your favourite competition on the international circuit? Danielle, on email

The atmosphere at Aachen is always electric Pic: Bob Langrish

A

RIDING Spurs are not a miracle cure for an unresponsive horse

Would spurs help me?

Q

I find myself constantly nagging my horse to keep an active walk. Do you have tips to help me keep the pace without chasing him along? Would spurs help? Verity, on email

A

I would ban you from using your legs! From now on use them just once to give your horse a sharp jab and then take your legs away from his sides. At the moment he’s probably trying his very best to ignore you, so you need to go back to basics and

www.yourhorse.co.uk

Topuldtionply

You sho sing spurs consider u ve a h if you a er leg secure low n o ti si po

teach him to react to your first aid. The more you nag, the more he’ll ignore you and the less responsive he’ll be. When you put your leg on, it doesn’t matter how he reacts just so long as he does react. You could use spurs, but this

won’t fix the problem. You’ll simply be making your aids stronger, and what happens when he starts ignoring you even when you’re using spurs? You need to concentrate on training him to react to a light aid the first time you ask.

I’ve represented Great Britain at Aachen CDIO, Germany, twice now and it’s always a fantastic experience. It’s such a historic venue, all the greats have ridden up the centre line there and it’s great to feel I’m following in their footsteps. Also, the crowd is always fantastic and helps to create a really electric atmosphere.

�Need help? If you have a question that you want answering by our celebrity of the month, or our panel of experts, simply email rebecca.gibson@ bauermedia.co.uk with Horse Answers in the subject line, or go online to

YOUR HORSE 63


kes What ma b? a cob abcreeod (apart from

er than a st of A type rath ob, which is the large lly a C ci h ls ffi e o the W bs are family), co , thickset and h ls e W e th ed short-legg t not defined as y 13.2hh-14.2hh, bu ll t a h ig su e u , od w strong 15.2hh. Go ll mannered n a th re o m e we ards, ey should b carriers, th ing to showing stand rd o and, acc ervous or ‘ideal for n ers’ elderly rid


All about cobs

Let’s hear it for the

hairies!

Think cobs are only fit for sensible hacks and weighty riders? Then think again as we explore their heavyweight potential Words: Helen Milbank

T

hey may lack the long-legged grace of a Thoroughbred or the exotic looks of an Arab, but there’s a reason why the humble cob has a loyal fan base that stretches from nervous hackers to top level show riders. Tough, safe, intelligent, willing… no other type of horse is quite so adept at slotting into so many roles, which is what makes them such a big hit with those who like to hack, show, hunt, drive and compete in everything from dressage to one-day eventing. So let’s hear it for the cobs and celebrate all that is great about our hairy, thickset friends.

A horse for all disciplines

Years ago the average cob had two main roles in life – to pull the family’s cart and take the rather more amply-proportioned rider for a steady ride or day’s hunting. Now, there’s nothing they can’t do. Take 14hh traditional tri-coloured cob Billy Whizz for instance. At the age of eight he’s just come 10th in the national finals of the Winter Dressage Championships in Hartpury, Gloucestershire at Prelim level, competing against well-bred warmbloods twice his size. Plus he does a spot of show jumping, JumpCross and one-day eventing. “He loves competing – but especially dressage,” says his owner Sam

www.yourhorse.co.uk

Turner, who runs a livery yard, Mill End Equestrian, in Sandon, Hertfordshire. She bought Billy two years ago and started schooling him with an eye to selling him on. But then she spotted his dressage potential – and the rest is history. “I took him to some unaffiliated dressage competitions to bring him on a bit and he started winning,” says Sam. “Then we went affiliated and he kept on winning. “He can be bad mannered on occasions and will try to be cheeky, but get him to a competition and he rises to the occasion. He’s more like a Thoroughbred in a cob’s body, as he hates the cold and prefers to stand in the stable all day to being out. “We always draw a crowd at competitions as it’s so unusual to see a 14hh pony competing against huge warmbloods. The judges love him – the only negative thing they comment on is that when we stand square they can’t see his feet because of his long feathers!” Since going affiliated, Billy’s won at least five Prelim and seven Novice classes, and came fourth at Elementary

level. And compared to some highmaintenance dressage horses he’s very easy to manage. Naturally a good-doer, as cobs tend to be, all he gets is four cups of competition mix morning and night, plus haylage, and he lives out during the day and in at night to keep him sharp (if he stays out all night he gets too tired!). It seems Billy’s not alone in doing his bit to promote cobs as more than just a sensible hack. Tessa Frost, from Cambridgeshire, competes coloured cobs at all levels, and her first horse, Wesley – who she bought for £50 from local gypsies, and starred in our Rider Challenge last year – went on to compete at Advanced Medium level dressage (working at Prix St Georges level at home) and win the Petplan Equine Novice Restricted Championships. She’s now getting started with her home-bred, four-year-old piebald cob-cross, Wanda, and says cobs are just wonderful. “Wanda and I are doing a bit of everything at the moment as I want to make her as versatile as possible, including flatwork, jumping and dressage,” says Tessa. “I have a riding school and livery yard and nearly all the horses are cobs – all of whom are schooled to Novice level.”

Manners, please

Sam Turner and Billy Whizz – proving cobs can excel in all types of competition

Bred for their strength and levelheadedness, all that heavyweight power can go one of two ways – and your average cob faces a decision early on in life, depending on the quality of his handling. Does he channel his strength into being as pig-headed as possible, towing his owner around on the end of a leadrope, or learn to use it to produce fantastic paces and become a sheer

YOUR HORSE 83


Road worthy Hacking can be hugely beneficial to horses, but can also be risky and even dangerous. So if you ride horses worth tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds, would you do it? Amanda Stevenson asks the experts.

Geoff Billington

International show jumper

When we were competing, I would regularly take It’s Otto around the roads as I didn’t have a school. And when I ring John (Whitaker) he’s often out on a hack on one of his horses. These days I haven’t been hacking my horses much but Geoff has recently started I’ve just re-started hacking his horses again, due to its benefits – I’m striving to be good again! Top show jumpers can be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. The best in the business have reputedly sold for millions. Because of their value my horses always wear boots and overreach boots and I won’t let the horses go out without me, because of the risks. Today I took my Grade As out for an hour-and-a-half hack. It’s good for them to do something different and helps with fitness. We walk and trot but, although we are based in the countryside, the roads are still quite dangerous. People just don’t understand horses and how they can spook sideways. Today we had an incident with a car going too fast, even though there were three of us to pass.


Hacking expensive horses John Keleher

of Pickmere Stud in Cheshire, breeder of competition/show ponies and small horses

Pic: Digipix

Hacking our ridden stallions and even leading young stock on the roads has got more dangerous and we are always flagging down cars in an attempt to slow them – usually in vain. Unfortunately, to hack out we have to cross a main commuter road to the M6, so apart from venturing out the odd Sunday on one of our ridden stallions, it’s rare we hack from the Stud. During the winter, however, we

have access to the Cheshire Showground where we can hack around its roads in safety. Hacking is an invaluable educational tool, getting horses used to traffic, plastic bags and the unexpected. When we do venture out, it’s always with boots, knee boots and reflective jackets. If we could ride straight onto a bridleway we would undoubtedly do things differently.

Lucy Killingbeck Show horse judge, producer and rider Hacking is a hugely important part of my show horses’ working lives, regardless of their value. You can’t produce a top class show horse without it, but I don’t believe people do enough hacking these days. Unlike working a horse constantly on a soft school surface, it teaches horses better balance and is vital for the limbs and circulatory system. It also gets horses fit and helps them grow accustomed to all sorts of objects, sights and sounds. Hacking prevents boredom and is a good grounding

for the show ring. I do very little with my horses in a school, preferring to do flatwork, trot and canter work in fields, combined with road work. My horses wear brushing and knee boots to protect from injury and I avoid hacking between 8am and 9.15am when roads are busier with school and work traffic. It’s also important to take weather conditions into consideration so you don’t put your horses at risk. I never ride out in fog or if it’s too icy. I wear bright clothing and use road nails when necessary.

Tim Stockdale International show jumper and trainer My horses never hack out. If they’re going to relax, I think they might as well do it without tack and a rider on their back. There is a bit more to it than that though – our horses are valuable and where we’re based we don’t have good hacking. At the end of our track, which is muddy when wet or rutted when dry, we are on main roads, so hacking doesn’t fit in with our system. If we kept the horses in the middle of a forest surrounded by great hacking, perhaps our system would be different. My horses are turned out a couple of times a week – in pens or paddocks. We have six 20m x 20m (66ft) pens and seven paddocks. The pens are metal or wood with grass that’s kept

immaculately, fed regularly and never overgrazed. Here the horses can graze, get sun on their backs and relax, without fear of injury. If they are happy they work better, this is their release. Years ago, show jumpers would be turned away after Horse of the Year Show until March, and be jumping again by May. Now our season is year-round and long breaks aren’t good for the horses, or possible. My horses go out in the field for a break rather than out for a hack. After all I can’t imagine Sir Steve Redgrave rowing on his day off!

turn the page

for more views from equine celebrities


PRIVATE LESSONS

Help me calm her transitions ďż˝ Your problems solved with our one-to-one training sessions Words Imogen Johnson


Riding Private Lessons

The trainer � Name Laura Bechtolsheimer � Experience Laura is an international dressage rider and trainer who’s had success after success with her horse Mistral Hojris (Alf). She’s a regular Team GBR member and last year competed in Hong Kong at her first Olympic games. Laura was also the British Dressage Rider of the Year 2008.

The rider and horse � Name Katrina Barnes � Experience Katrina and her horse, Inca who’s rising six, like to try a bit of everything and currently compete in dressage at Prelim level. In everyday life Inca is a very calm horse but, as a baby, she can become quite whizzy at competitions and in new environments. Katrina enjoys her time with Inca and wants to help her reach her potential, but some negative feedback on their dressage sheets has knocked Katrina’s confidence. She knows her horse has lots of potential – she just wants to know how to help her reach it.

Before they start Katrina explains to Katrina lets Inca stretch Laura that, even and relax though Inca appears calm and relaxed, she can lack concentration and become fussy when warming up at competitions. “Inca is great at home, but I’m not getting the same work from her when we compete. I sometimes have to rush her warm up before a test so she doesn’t have time to start messing about, because she can become distracted quite easily. When we work on transitions, she can become quite feisty and it often takes me a long time to get her to listen and work well consistently,” says Katrina. “I know she’s a baby and I just wonder whether I’m asking too much of her at times. She has a lot of potential and when she does listen she works really nicely, it’s just getting the consistency we need to do well.” www.yourhorse.co.uk

YOUR HORSE 95


Grade 0

Grade 1

The inconvenient truth The way we manage our horses may be putting them at increased risk of developing equine gastric ulcer syndrome. Words by Rebecca Gibson

The symptoms are often vague and difficult to pinpoint, leaving horses to suffer from gastric ulcers undiagnosed, labelled as fussy eaters or poor doers. Careful management to prevent ulcers 104 YOUR HORSE

forming is crucial in What are gastric ulcers? Gastric ulcers form when the stomach the battle against lining is eroded by prolonged exposure this painful to digestive acids in the horse’s stomach. The severity of these ulcers varies from condition. Any an inflamed but intact stomach lining, to widespread erosion and bleeding. horse can be In extreme cases the stomach can become perforated, with fatal consequences affected by gastric – however such fatalities are usually restricted to foals. ulcers, so it’s “The equine stomach can be split into important all horse two main areas – the squamous and the Dr Celia Marr, a vet at owners understand glandular,” Rossdales Equine Hospital, Newmarket, says. “Acid is secreted by glands in the how they can lower, glandular section. This acid is corrosive, but plays a crucial role in the reduce the risks. www.yourhorse.co.uk


Horsecare Equine ulcers explained

Grade 2

Grade 3

Grade 4

How is a diagnosis made?

digestion of food. To protect the structure of the stomach, the cells lining the glandular section produce a protective mucus. Ulcers occur here when the protective mucus layer is compromised for some reason. “However, around 80% of all gastric ulcers occur in the upper, squamous section as a direct result of prolonged exposure to acid secretions,” Celia says. “In fact the majority of equine stomach ulcers occur right up near the oesophagus. This area of the stomach has less protection and is therefore more sensitive.” On the next page, we show the grading system developed by vets to help categorise the severity of the condition in each horse. Grade two and above are considered abnormal and will require treatment.

www.yourhorse.co.uk

A definite diagnosis can only be made by Diet a vet, using a three-metre fibre-optic A horse fed a high energy, low fibre diet will endoscope. The horse is sedated and a tiny be at greater risk. Feeding large amounts of camera is fed down the horse’s oesophagus concentrate feed and only small amounts of into his stomach. forage will mean the horse spends much less This is a relatively straight forward than 16 hours a day eating. Instead he will procedure and gives the vet a clear picture stand for long periods without any of exactly what is going on and how food to act as a buffer against the severe any ulcers are. stomach’s digestive acids. “It’s only in the past 10 years Intensive exercise or so that this procedure has r e lc u When working at high c ri been possible – since then our May is gast nth. Take intensities, the blood flow to o m ss knowledge of equine gastric awarene check to the stomach decreases. Since e m ti e ulcers has increased th for the blood running through the your horse dramatically,” Celia says. “The symptoms stomach helps to remove acid, digital images give us a really a reduction in flow means the acidity clear idea of what is going on.” levels in the stomach will increase. There is also increased pressure in the abdomen during intensive exercise – such as galloping. As the lungs expand, there is less room for everything else. Acid in the lower parts of the stomach, which are thickly lined with a In the wild, a horse will graze for at least protective mucus membrane, can be forced 16 hours a day. The digestive system is up into the more sensitive upper part of the specifically designed to deal with this trickle stomach – ultimately causing ulcers. feeding. Digestive acids are secreted Physical stress and illness continuously by glands in the stomach and Gastric ulcers can be symptomatic of some the levels of acidity are balanced by the other physiological stress. Long journeys and intake of forage and also by bicarbonate in periods of box rest are known to increase the the saliva, produced when the horse chews. risks of ulcers. When stabled horses have free access Medication to hay and grazing this natural balance of Some long-term medications can cause acidity in the stomach continues. But in ulcers by inhibiting the production of the horses who are fed a high-concentrate diet mucus lining that is designed to protect and given only limited access to forage, the acidity in the stomach will increase and ulcers the stomach.

Did you know?

What are the symptoms? Horses suffering from gastric ulcers can go undiagnosed for many months, or even years. “Symptoms can be vague, meaning diagnosis is often difficult without further investigation,” Celia says. “The following are all possible indicators that your horse is suffering from this painful and debilitating condition: �Reduced appetite �Poor performance �Dull coat �Poor condition �Low grade or intermittent colic �Grinding of teeth �Change in attitude – such as a reluctance to work If you suspect your horse may be suffering from gastric ulcers, contact your vet immediately.

may well develop. Although any horse has the potential to develop gastric ulcers, it’s thought the following factors dramatically increase the risks:

What causes a horse to develop gastric ulcers?

YOUR HORSE 105

Illustrations by Samantha J Elmhurst BA Hons, www.livingart.org.uk taken from images courtesy of Merial Animal Health Ltd manufacturers of Gastrogard

The varying degrees of stomach ulceration


Your Horse Issue 322  

Your Horse Issue 322

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