Verity Anderton Johnson shares the case of Ollie, who was treated for gastric ulcers.
I rehomed Ollie in February 2017 via the Blue Cross ‘home2home’ scheme, he came to join our other Blue Cross ponies at home. Ollie came into the Blue Cross originally when he was a feral underweight cob, he was backed at the centre then went out to two homes after which I rehomed him, age 12.
At home I put Ollie on the same routine as my Mum’s cob; breakfast between 6-7am, turnout until early evening (summer/spring) compared to winter where he would get turned out 10-3pm with hay/grass. The rest of the time is spent in the stable with hay every two hours or so. Then throughout the whole year, last hay will be at 10pm at night. We try feed all our 6 ponies little but often so they always have food in their stomachs and before riding them we always give them some Hi-fi lite.
Ollie started to settle into life at home with us, he can be nervous at times especially with the farrier, he hides his stress inside him so I just take new things slowly and positively for him.
However, I started noticing behaviour which is normally due to pain, such as trying to bite you when girthing him up, ears back and he looked uncomfortable, and when doing rugs up he would do the same. I noticed when riding him he would ignore aids and when I would ask for go aid, he would pull the same pain face as he did when girthing/rugging up. Also, he had started to shut down when riding him. I took advice from a family friend, Siobhan, who is also an equine vet nurse at Scarsdale.
I had seen these signs in horses before which were then found out to have had ulcers. After speaking to Siobhan I decided to book Ollie in for a scope in early October. I took him in the night before and was lucky enough to be able to go next morning and watch the scope taking place. As soon as the tube went down, we noticed a hard ball of old food which had obviously been in there a while which shows how his stomach hadn’t been working correctly. Once the vet/nurses got past that you could see ulcers straight away, old ones and bleeding ones.
Ollie was prescribed powders and paste daily. We didn’t have to change his routine because it was perfect for a horse who has ulcers. I gave him four days off work to help get the medications working. Within two weeks of him being on the medication, he had stopped the biting behaviours when girthing/rugging up. Also, he started to work more off my aids, not pulling pain faces when I gave him an aid. His paces were more forward when out hacking and in the school. He started to feel nice to ride.
Six weeks after his first scope, he went for a second scope where we saw good improvement meaning we could start to slowly wean him off his drugs. He carried on showing good signs of behaviour on the ground and ridden. Furthermore, he looks generally happier in everyday life, he has become my best friend and I cannot wait to start making more memories together.