Friday, June 5, 2015

The weight battle.

Digby had some weight issue this winter. 

Ribby in early April.

Probably mid-April.


I've posted about his weight issues this winter and spring before here and here. After changing feeds to Triple Crown Senior, having the vet out a few times, and treating for ulcers, he finally seemed to be gaining weight. There was much rejoicing. 

Fancy trot, fairy skinny horse. Late April.

Mid May.

Late May.

As you can see, he was putting weight on and gaining muscle which was even better but still needs a few pounds. I sadly don't have any good conformation shots from the end of May but I assure you his neck is probably double the size than it was and he's adding on weight all over. Yay! The combination of hay, meds, 8 lbs of senior feed, and  a scoop of soaked alfalfa cubes seemed to be doing the trick.

We had treated him for an entire month and around mid May, started backing off his omeprazole. There's an article that (sort of) touches on the topic of "acid rebound effect" and why you should slowly back horses (and humans!) off omeprazole. He has since stopped gaining more weight while we were backed him off his normal treatment dose. His hay, alfalfa cubes and grain stayed the same. I spoke with my vet and she suggested treating him for another month. It's possible if his ulcers were bad enough that one month of treatment was not enough. We've bumped him back up to the treatment dose and we'll continue that for another month. Hopefully that does the trick!

Has anyone else had ulcer issues? What's worked for your horse? What hasn't? I'd love to get some other opinions, as it seems that there's easily 100 different opinions and options on treatment/prevention.


  1. There's definitely a million different opinions! My mare was suspected to be ulcery and we treated w omeprazole for a couple weeks before moving onto regular dietary supplements. She never lost quite so much weight tho... Good luck!

    1. Ugh yeah, he got bad.. I feel like a terrible owner but we certainly were trying to get it back on!! Just I think a bad cold winter didn't do us any favors. What supplement do you feed her?

  2. My TB is prone to ulcers too. She had her first bout of them while on stall rest 2 years ago. She never got to lose weight because of them but she bucked under saddle if I touched her with my heels during one ride halfway through her rehab. When I dismounted I realized she was super flinchy when I touched her belly with my hands. Not normal for her at all. So we treated with GastroGard to start for the first 2 weeks, then switched to Abler's AbGard (less expensive; same concentration of omeprazole) to complete a full 6 weeks of treatment. After that I had her on UGard as a supplement until we were able to switch her to field board that summer, when I discontinued the UGard.

    She did great on 24/7 turnout but over the winter she lost weight when the BO received a bad batch of round bales. She went off of her feed and I wasn't told until a couple of days after the fact. She dropped 100 lbs in a week; she had already been lean thanks to endurance training. I gave her a long break while treating her with UlcerGard (OTC GastroGard basically; made by the same company) and ADR probiotic paste, and restarted her on UGard. She didn't get as bad as Digby though; she looked like he did in mid-April. It's documented on my blog in spring of 2014. It took a while to get all of the weight back on her.

    I simply kept her on UGard permanently. This past winter I gave her a break from work due to some activity restrictions of my own. She was on free choice hay and 6 lbs of Triple Crown Senior twice a day + UGard and she looked fantastic. It's the first time I've seen her at a body condition score of 6/9: actually on the overweight side. She lost some of that in the spring and then her weight plummeted after our first endurance ride of the season. After switching her to a different grain (Tribute Kalm Ultra- high fat and also beet-pulp based) I ended up treating her for ulcers again, again with UlcerGard. I'm switching her over to Smartpak's SmartGut to sub for the UGard in her next Smartpak shipment. I also have her on GutWerks probiotic by Horsetech. She can be frustratingly difficult when it comes to supplements but she'll eat Gutwerks. I also feed her a flake of alfalfa before riding: it acts as a stomach acid buffer during exercise. We never exercise on an empty stomach. She's pretty much at a 5/9 body condition score at the moment.

    So there you have what has worked for me. :)

    1. Ahh, thank you for the info! I love hearing what's worked/what hasn't from others :) I actually have Digby on the Abler product, per suggestion by my vet, although I had already heard about them on COTH. He's done very well on the "blue pop rocks." Do you think the Ugard supplement helps? I'll go check out your blog from 2014 to see.

      I feel terrible that Digby lost so much weight. I don't love changing everything at once and I like to give things the opportunity to work but unfortunately between the cold and everything else, he probably has had ulcers for a long time and it finally caught up to him. He didn't really start improving until we treated. I'm going to keep him on the treatment dose for 45 days I think this go around and then taper off.

    2. In all honesty, I don't think the UGard made a huge difference. She still developed ulcers this spring again. :/ I thought she had stopped liking her grain so I changed grain on her a couple of times (very little change), added oil to her food for weight gain (she hated this), tried adding water to her food to turn it into mashes so it would all stick together and hopefully be ingested faster (she turned her nose up at for the first time ever), and started being very diligent about alfalfa before rides. The alfalfa she would eat, but not the grain. This was a 2-month process of trying one thing after another, so I completely understand about wanting to wait for things to work instead of changing everything at once. With Lily I finally threw my hands up in frustration and decided to just treat her for ulcers. It made all the difference. Within 2 weeks she was wolfing down her food in 15 minutes like a normal horse. Previously it had been taking her 40 minutes to finish the same amount of grain. I've made a mental note to just treat her for ulcers if she gets that picky about food again.

      There is some interesting research behind Smartpak's SmartGut and my vet approves it, so we'll be switching to that once the last UGard Smartpak is over. She liked the SmartGut way better than the UGard pellets too: she ate the SmartGut right out of my hand! So it looks promising. :)

      Your boy is looking so much better already!

    3. Yeah, the SmartGut Ultra has some research which is promising. I love that SmartPak is actually trying to do some/any research on their supplements. It's just sooo expensive at $67 a month! I mean, if it works and helps keep ulcers away, I guess it's worth it? But if it doesn't, that's a ton of money to spend.

      That's awesome that Lily is doing better though! Digby seems to be continuing to get better with this second treatment so I'm hopeful. :)