FEED BEFORE FAST WORK? REALLY?
Posted on September 06 2015
One of the causes of gastric ulceration is thought to be the acid contents of the lower part of the stomach (the lining of which has evolved to cope with that environment) splashing upwards against the top half, where acid is not supposed to be. In a hay-fed horse the fibre floats like a mat on top of this acidic pool and prevents splashing upwards. But if there is a period of starvation or reduced intake before work the protective mat may havegone.
So there is case for FEEDING A SCOOP OF CHAFF IMMEDIATELY BEFORE THE HORSE IS TACKED UP. This will float on top of the acid pool and prevent splashing. Experience has shown there will be no adverse effects. Also It is best to feed the chaff DRY, as the extra saliva the horse will produce when chewing it contains bicarbonate, which will also have an acid neutralising effect.
At our regular gastroscopy clinics at EqWest we rarely find a horse that doesn't have at least some gastric ulcers. Studies indicate that ulcers occur in up to 37% of leisure horses,63% of performance horses and 93% of racehorses. And while many of these show symptoms such as various combinations of a poor or variable appetite for hard feed, grumpiness, objecting to girthing and grooming, mild colic and a poor coat, it is clear that many other horses are just suffering in silence without any outward signs. Simple management changes like what we have outlined above may help these horses.