Understanding Ulcers: How Massage Can Play a Role in Post Ulcer Performance

Equine gastric ulcers are fairly common in horses. According to studies, up to 90% of racehorses and up to 60% of other performance horses may develop gastric ulcers at some point in their lives. They can affect any horse at any age.

Hindgut ulcers are less common than gastric ulcers, but have been reported to affect 44 – 63% of horses. It’s possible for a horse to have both gastric and hindgut ulcers at the same time.

Signs include poor performance, sudden girthyness, teeth grinding, behavioral changes, recurrent colic, poor appetite, diarrhea, wood chewing, stretching as if to urinate, sensitivity in the flank area, difficulty bending, collecting, and extending and unwillingness to jump. Early diagnosis leads to a better prognosis so have your your Vet out ASAP if you suspect your horse may have ulcers.

Your Vet will advise on the best treatment for your horse and on how to manage your horse’s care with the hope of prevention in the future.

When your horse is feeling better, Massage Therapy can be very helpful for post ulcer performance recovery and as part of your preventative maintenance management.

Here’s how:

  1. Relieving muscle tension: Horses with ulcers often develop tension in their muscles as a result of discomfort and stress. Massage therapy can help relieve muscle tension and promote relaxation, which can aid in the healing process.
  2. Improving circulation: Massage therapy can help improve circulation to the affected area, helping to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, which can aid in the healing process.
  3. Reducing stress: Horses with ulcers may experience stress and anxiety as a result of the condition. Massage therapy can help reduce stress and promote relaxation, which can improve overall well-being.
  4. Stimulating digestion: Massage therapy can help stimulate the digestive system, which can aid in the healing of the ulcers and improve overall digestion.
  5. Enhancing immune function: Massage therapy can help enhance immune function by increasing circulation and promoting relaxation, which can help the horse’s body fight off infections and illnesses.

It’s important to work with a qualified Equine Massage Therapist who has experience working with horses that have had ulcers to ensure that the massage is performed safely and effectively.

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