From Endurance to Dressage
You cannot know how many times I have asked myself this question. Other than just being a ridiculously sensitive snowflake (that's the first time I've ever used that word in this context, but it's true for Izzy), there didn't seem to be a more plausible explanation for his um ... theatrics.
Never mind that Izzy demonstrates NONE of the signs commonly associated with ulcers. According to Doctors Foster and Smith, signs of gastric ulcers in adult horses include:
The big brown horse is either Mr. McDreamy or a complete jackass. In his defense, the jackassery portion of his behavior rarely crops up anymore. Not that Mr. McDreamy is a daily occurrence either, but I am seeing more and more of that horse. So when Izzy started wigging out two weeks ago, I called the chiropractor like normal. Except that didn't solve everything.
I had run out of theories. This horse lacks for absolutely nothing. He gets the best hay we can find, there's copious amounts of it, and he lives on nearly a quarter of an acre. In desperation, I started researching equine ulcers and treatment.
What I found is that there is only one FDA approved medication for the treatment of existing ulcers. Sold under the brand name of GastroGard, the medication is called omeprazole. GastroGard is generally prescribed for 30 days at the cost of around $32.00 a dose/tube. The only way to actually diagnose equine ulcers is through the use of an endoscopic examination. Otherwise you're just guessing.
To prevent equine ulcers, the exact same omeprazole is administered but at one quarter the dose of GastroGard. The product, also manufactured by Merial, is sold under the band name UlcerGard. GastroGard must be prescribed by a veterinarian as it is used for the treatment of ulcers. Since UlcerGard is used to prevent ulcers, it does not need a prescription. The tubes are identical, but the dosage is different. If giving GastoGard, you administer the entire tube. If giving UlcerGard, you give only one-quarter of the tube a day. A tube of UlcerGard generally costs the same as a tube of GastroGard.
Even though I doubted that Izzy had an ulcer, I decided to treat him with UlcerGard to see if it made any kind of a difference. I used it for four consecutive days. I also bought a second tube with the plan to use one dose each week for a month. I looked at it like giving him a Tums. My stomach gets "ulcery" at times but a few Tums over a couple of days generally gets me feeling back to normal.
Did it help? I don't know. At the same time that I administered the four days of UlcerGard, I also worked the snot out of him. After looking at every possible factor, I realized that his jackassery started when we moved the clocks back an hour. I think that the change in my schedule - coming out at what felt like an hour later, combined with less saddle time, simply rocked Izzy's little world.
I am still going to give the once-a-week dose over the next month, and I am considering adding a tube of UlcerGard to his routine when I know a change is coming. As a side note, both of my boys are on Platinum Performance Equine which contains Calcium, Magnesium, and Thiamine, the same ingredients found in many over the counter ulcer supplements. If those ingredients were going to "fix" anything, you would have thought it would have already happened.
Overall, the best "therapy" for this horse comes free of charge: exercise in the form of lunging on a line and free lunging. When he's tired, he remembers who I am, and his brain re-engages.
Who doesn't love "free?"
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
*** SCEC 10/15-16/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%