Back in May last year we scoped our new pony Spotty and found she had mild glandular ulcers. The only risk factor we could ‘see’ was the fact she had been a chronic ‘sweet itch’ pony for years. You can read the backstory here
Our dilemma at the time of scoping was she had already been with us for 2 months, on a balanced diet, including a gut supplement because I was suspicious of ulcers and with constant access to fibrous pasture.
So what we didn’t know was were these ‘mild’ ulcers healing and on their way out? OR were they persistent (like Galaxy’s) and will remain despite her new diet and the removal of her source of chromic stress (no midges at my place and therefore no itching).
At the time, in consultation with my vet, we chose to not medicate Spotty and rescope. Due to Covid lockdowns, the next rescope we could do was 6 months later… in late November 2021.
In the period between May and November her picky eating disappeared, she was happily eating salt and while her stubbornness didn’t disappear under saddle she certainly was content being ridden when she was doing something that didn’t involve repetition (hates being ridden in an arena!).
What the scope showed us
And I am RELIEVED to report that for Spotty, on re-scoping, her glandular ulcers had resolved!! After the experience with Galaxy (who was scoped first on the same day) my heart was in my mouth when Spotty was being done, so I was beyond relieved to find her glandular stomach in excellent shape!
She did have some hyperkeratosis (Grade 1 squamous ulcers)… sigh. I expect this was due to her grazing being restricted via strip grazing in the 2 months prior to the scoping and the grazing she did have access to was very lush!
My suspicion is that with just lush, watery pasture in the mornings as I moved their strip grazing fence and lucerne/alfalfa hay once a day in the late afternoon there is long periods of time where there is unlikely to be protective fibre in the stomach.
AND they probably don’t produce much saliva when eating lush pasture. There is at least one study (Bell et al 2007) that shows in racehorses that time at pasture was not protective against ulcers.
My plan is to provide access to straw next spring to make sure they always have something fibrous to chew on without blowing their calorie budget!
Fast forward to now though (late summer), Spotty is now living on a giant track with her pasture buddies Poet and Popcorn. They have lots of low quality, fibrous pasture to munch on all day and they get new pasture in a strip graze paddock right at the end of their track each day. So fingers crossed her squamous region is doing better.
She certainly looks good on the outside, but as Galaxy has so beautifully shown us, this is NOT an indicator of internal stomach health!