The number one cause for ulcers in horses is stress and high grain diets. Horse ulcers are sores in the lining of its stomach, that can cause a range of side effects. Here at the top 5 signs of ulcers under saddle.

1) Your horse is upset when putting the saddle on/doing the girth

Your horse may be girthy when putting the saddle on and stomping its feet.

Horse ulcer symptoms under saddle

Photo: Mary Debono

2) Your horse pins its ears back when you use your legs

Some ridden behavioral issues include your horse resisting your leg and refuses to move forward when asked.

Horse ulcer symptoms under saddle

3) Weight loss

Weight loss is a common sign of equine gastric ulcers. This can lead to poor performance in the show ring.

Horse ulcer symptoms under saddle

 4) Attitude change

Your horse may not be as forward moving when ridden, so a horse with stomach ulcers should be in a program with intense exercise. An enthusiastic horse that used to love being worked with its eared forward can completely change personality and become a slow, dull ride instead. 

Horse ulcer symptoms under saddle

Photo: Your horse

5) Rearing/Kicking

Other behavioral issues under saddle include rearing or kicking. If the horse is in pain and in poor health it may tell you by rearing when ridden.

Horse ulcer symptoms under saddle 

Other common symptoms of ulcers include poor appetite, recurrent colic, depression, chronic diarrhea and poor body condition.

Treatment options for ulcers vary - Mild ulcers can sometimes be treated with simply feeding your horse more alpha alpha hay as it promotes a healthy digestive tract. Severe ulcers may need ulcer medication and can take longer to heal. The best course of action should be discussed the vet and the horse owners directly.

It is very common for race horses to get equine ulcers due to their high stress levels at shows and the high grain diet being fed. Even though performance horses are at a greater risk of developing colonic ulcers - the development of ulcers can happen in any horse with no real cause sometimes. With proper treatment and change of the horse’s diet can cure most horses - even though stomach problems are very likely to come back if not managed properly.