From Endurance to Dressage
Izzy's weeklong bootcamp is over, and while I didn't find out definitively whether or not he has ulcers, the experiment with UlcerGard gave me enough information to run it all by my vet. Quite a few of you chimed in with your own experiences and preferred tummy products; for that I thank you.
Here's what I found out:
1) By the third or fourth day on UlcerGard, Izzy was a much happier camper.
2) Izzy is more tense and anxious when the weather is less than perfect.
3) In less than perfect weather, Izzy does better with some lunging before he's ridden.
4) Five days after completing the first tube of UlcerGard, Izzy was a complete jackass.
5) Based on the return of the jackassery, I am changing Izzy's supplements to include something to aid his digestive health.
Rather than continue to guess on a treatment for Izzy, I gave my vet a call and gave him a run down. In a quick summary, I explained how unpredictable Izzy can be, what my feeding program looks like (Izzy rarely runs out of hay), what happened when I experimented with four days of UlcerGard, and how Izzy has been more anxious with the arrival of cooler weather.
Dr. Tolley listened carefully, and when I was finished, he agreed that ulcers were likely. He then launched into a thorough exploration of what we could try. I love that about him; he doesn't just offer one solution. He always gives me a list of possible fixes that range from the least invasive to the most expensive and elaborate. Those choices included lots of different drugs, GastroGard, UlcerGard, and over the counter supplements.
In his experience, ulcers are expensive to treat, I agreed, so finding the least expensive, but still effective, treatment was our goal. We also discussed a variety of studies, one of which showed that gastric ulcers in horses responded well to a lower dose (1 mg/day) of omeprazole as compared to what is prescribed in GastroGard (4 mg/day).
Dr. Tolley cautioned me against using other versions of omeprazole not manufactured by Merial. As one website explained, "UlcerGard and GastroGard are different than the omeprazole medication used to treat human ulcers (Prilosec) because they are not microencapsulated. Prilosec is microencapsulated so that it does not dissolve inside the human stomach. Because the equine and human stomachs are significantly different, the drugs used to treat their ulcers must be formulated differently."
Dr. Tolley laid out a possible plan of attack with room for variations included, but he left it to me to make the final call. He suggested 21 days of UlcerGard combined with an over-the-counter preventative to be given until further notice. He recommended SmartGut Pellets.
After reviewing SmartPak's list of ulcer preventatives, I decided to upgrade to the SmartGI Pellets. While the ingredients are nearly identical to those in the SmartGut Pellets, the SmartGI Pellets offer just a bit more to support the stomach and the hindgut. For a difference of twenty cents a day, I figured it was worth it.
UlcerGard comes in a four-dose tube for around $35, or you can get it in a six-tube pack for $202.50 which contains twenty-four doses of 1 mg/day. I have three doses left from my second tube, so if I combine those with the twenty-four doses, I'll get four weeks of treatment instead of the three that Dr. Tolley proposed.
SmartPak's shipping is not nearly as quick as some of my preferred online retailers, so I can't get to work on rehabilitating Izzy's gut quite yet. The UlcerGard should be here by Wednesday, so today I can get him started on the three dose I already have. The SmartGI won't be here until next week (if I am lucky). That might be for the good anyway as it will give me a chance to evaluate how effective the UlcerGard seems after a week.
So. Does my horse have ulcers? I don't know, but I am treating him as though he does. Wish us luck!
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%
2022 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2022 Show Schedule
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%