Meet Spotty: A Case Study in Ulcers
Here is an interesting little case for you!
Meet Spotty… who isn’t spotty … her full name is Spotlight!
Spotty has just joined our little herd of equines and has fitted in beautifully with Popcorn and Poet.
I bought her from a friend who wanted to sell her as she was a chronic ‘QLD Itch’ (sweet itch) pony and my friend wanted her to go somewhere with no midges!
I was looking for a pony and she is just perfect for us. And we have no midges!
What is interesting about this you ask… nothing, yet!
BUT, the first few times I fed Spotty I noticed she was pretty finicky. For a pony she was also in excellent (not fat) condition, despite having had free access to pasture. AND if I added salt to her feed she wouldn’t eat it.
Plus she could be a little grouchy when getting saddled up and is a bit hesitant to go forward some days, (which yes, could be just her being a pony who knows she can beat her inexperienced rider, but for now I have given her the benefit of doubt).
My brain is putting all of this together… chronic underlying stress from being itchy (despite my friend doing an a-mazing job keeping her rugged and as protected as possible!), weird appetite for a pony and not fat despite lots of pasture, girthy and not happy in her work.
It was suggesting ulcers to me, and it was suggesting glandular ulcers (the ones down the bottom of the stomach), as I couldn’t see how there were any risk factors for the squamous ulcers up the top of the stomach.
So, into a scoping day we go, and look what we found, mild pyloric ulcers.
In a way it didn’t surprise me. BUT when we think about the typical risk factors for ulcers, this pony had none, aside from the fact she was itchy/stressed all the time!
The interesting dilemma for me is she has been with us for 2 months already. She has been (of course) on a well balanced diet since she arrived, gets a gut supplement (because I was suspicious of ulcers) and always gets lucerne before she is ridden (my daughter makes sure of this, I love seeing her get the lucerne as the first thing she does when saddling up!). The top (squamous) section of her stomach was pristine on scoping.
So what we don’t know is, are these ulcers healing and on their way out? Or are they persistent and will remain despite the non-itching and new diet.
I have chosen, in discussion with my vet not to treat these ulcers with any form of medication for now, keep up the diet and the supplement and rescope in 4 to 6 weeks and see what we can see!
I wanted to share though as it is such a good example of how (I suspect) stress can lead to ulceration as truly this pony had no other risk factors (aside from not being mineral supplemented on her pasture, which could lead to zinc deficiency and an inability to heal any lesions in the gut).
I hope you find this as fascinating as I did!
Do you have a question or comment? Do you need help with feeding?
We would love to welcome you to our FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group. Ask questions and have them answered by PhD and Masters qualified equine nutritionists and spend time with like-minded horse owners. It’s free!
Click here to join the FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group