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Stress or Poor Diet? Hemp Nutrition to Prevent Gastric Ulcers in Horse

Are you frustrated with the body condition of your horse? Where does your horse hurt?

As responsible horse owners, we know our horses have sensitive digestive systems. We follow the basic rules of feeding – little and often, plenty of fresh water, the right balance of fibre and energy. We learn about common types of gastric distress our horses may experience, and there aren’t many horse owners that don’t know the signs, prevention, and consequences of conditions like colic or laminitis.

However, horses have complex and delicate digestive systems, and even horse owners who are careful with feeding can find themselves with a horse that won’t eat, loses weight, gets recurrent colic, or shows other signs that something is wrong. If this sounds like your horse, you might want to ask your vet about Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome, or EGUS.

stress_ulcerhorseGastric ulcers – in horses as well as humans – are areas or erosion and irritation in the digestive tract. They aren’t necessarily in the stomach itself, but occur most often near the entrance and exit to the stomach, in the lower esophagus, and in the intestine (commonly called ‘leaky gut syndrome’). They are basically the result of acids escaping the stomach and damaging the sensitive surrounding membranes.[i]

A horse with gastric ulcers is most likely in pain, and may be reluctant to eat and show symptoms of colic (rolling, sweating, agitation, and looking at or snapping at its flanks). Other symptoms include chronic diarrhea, poor appetite, weight loss or an inability to gain weight, and general discomfort. Anytime a horse shows chronic colic-like symptoms, it’s worth investigating the possibility of gastric ulcers.

Equine gastric ulcers are more common than you might think. One quarter to half of foals develop gastric ulcers, and it is estimated that over half of mature horses have gastric ulcers at some time, and to some degree. The cause – especially in foals, may be genetic or developmental (such as delayed development of the muscles at the entrance or exit to the stomach), but for adult horses diet is almost always a factor.

Any circumstances that increase the volatility or quantity of stomach acids can lead to leakage, and ultimately ulcers. Stress is a primary culprit – especially in horses stabled for long periods – as is high intensity exercise.[ii] Some steroid medications can lead to ulcers, because they upset the natural balance of digestive bacteria. Feed deprivation – even ‘starvation diets’, used with the best of intentions to prevent laminitis, are dangerous and can cause ulcers, and horses that are malnourished or suffered neglect often develop ulcers.

A common cause, which is often hard to identify, is simply feeding the wrong types of feed to your horse.[iii] Feeding concentrates and diets high in sugar and starch (NSCs) not only increase the horse’s metabolism in bursts (called ‘glucose spikes’), but also have more inherent risks. NSCs can be fermented by the natural bacteria of the stomach producing volatile fatty acids (VFAs), which dramatically increase the acidity in the stomach.[iv] If these acids escape, they can cause immediate damage to the delicate membranes near the entrance and exit to the stomach.

a-horse-ulcer-How diet helps Equine Metabolic Syndrome or Dysbiosis in horses

If your horse has ulcers caused by faulty muscles at the entrance or exit to the stomach, there is little you can do to prevent ulcers. Foals often grow out of the condition, but adult horses may need surgery to relieve the condition completely. In any case, you will need to take steps to manage the volume and acidity of the acids in your horse’s stomach.

The best way to prevent a healthy horse developing gastric ulcers is to choose a feeding regime designed to reduce stomach acidity. Feed little and often, and offer plenty of low energy hays and forage to prevent your horse getting an empty stomach. Allow your horse plenty of turn out time, and if you can’t, then offer your horse lots of toys or other distractions to minimize stress. Horses that compete or travel a lot may benefit from frequent short ‘vacations’ or breaks in their schedule to relax and unwind.

Hemp’s Benefits for Equine Diets

  • 100% Natural
  • Naturally Rich in Omega 6, 3, & 9 Oils
  • Rich in GLA
  • Excellent Source for Vitamin E
  • Cholesterol Free
  • Great Source of Amino Acids
  • Flavourful Nutty Taste
  • Contains Important Vitamins, Minerals, & Antioxidants
  • Gluten Free
  • Good Source of Chlorophyll
  • Very Economical
  • Most Unsaturated Fat in the Plant Kingdom
  • Trans Fatty Acid Free
  • Excellent Source for Sterols & Steroline
  • Good source of Vegetarian Oil

hempingredients_products2Pressed seed cake, or hemp meal (what remains after the oil has been pressed out), is  an ideal feed for horses and dogs. Hemp seed meal contains 30% protein and provides an excellent dietary source of fiber for animals.

Hemp Seed Meal contains significantly higher levels of oil (8%) than oilseed meals typically used in horse diets. This high quality oil content is exceptionally beneficial to horses. It contains high levels of crude protein (30 %), reasonable levels of lysine (1.1 %), high levels of fiber and low levels of starch.

Hemp Seed Meal has substantially higher fiber content, higher oil content and lower starch content compared to Soybean Meal. This is advantageous for horses that are overweight or are predisposed to metabolic disorders such as, laminitis, azotouria etc; therefore, allowing the crude protein content of the ration to be increased without the increase in starch content that occurs with Soybean Meal supplementation. *Add hemp oil with hemp meal .

Hemp oil is the most nutritional value of all oils because its 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3  essential fatty acids, which matches the balance required by horse, dog and its human.

The proportions of linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid  in the hempseed oil easily provides horse daily requirements for EFAs. Unlike flaxseed oil,  hempseed oil can be used continuously without developing a deficiency or other imbalance of EFAs.

This has been demonstrated in a clinical study, where the daily ingestion of flaxseed oil  decreased the endogenous production of GLA.

In common with other oils, hempseed oil provides 9 kcal/g. Compared with other culinary oils  it is low in saturated fatty acids. Highly unsaturated oils, and especially poor quality oils,  can spontaneously oxidize and turn rancid within a short period of time when they are not stored  properly; i.e., in a cool/cold, dark place.

Hempseed oil  can also be frozen for longer periods of storage time. Preservatives (antioxidants) are not  necessary for high quality oils that are stored properly. The oil is of high nutritional  value because its 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 essential fatty acids, which matches the  balance required by the body.

Would you like to learn more about Hemp products for your animals? Call today for direct volume pricing on hempseed oil & hemp fiber meal recommendations, we offer bulk sizes. 888-265-0811 or  visit


[i]Andrews, F.M., Bernard, W., Byars, D., Cohen, N., Divers, T., MacAllister, C., McGladdery, A., Murray, M., Orsini, J., Snyder, J., and Vastistas. N. ‘Recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS)’. Equine Veterinary Education 1 (1999) pp. 122-134. [ii] Orsin JA, Pipers FS, “Endoscopic evaluation of the relationship between training, racing, and gastric ulcers”, Veterinary Surgery 26 (1997) p. 424 [iii] Coenen M, “The occurrence of feed-induced stomach ulcers in Horses” Schweiz. Arch. Tierheilkd. 132 (1990) pp. 121–126 [iv] Nadeau J.A., Andrews F.M., Patton C.S., Argenzio R.A., Mathew A.G., Saxton A.M. ‘Effects of hydrochloric, valeric and other volatile fatty acids on pathogenesis pathogenesis of ulcers in the nonglandular portion of the stomach of horses’,American Journal of Veterinary Research 64 (2003) pp. 413–417 [v] Moyaert,H., Haesebrouck,F, Dewulf J., Ducatelle R., Pasmans F., ‘Helicobacter Equorum is highly prevalent in foals’, Vet Microbiology (2008). [vi] Contreras, M., Morales, A., García-Amado, M.A., De Vera, M., Bermúdez, V., Gueneau, P. Detection of Helicobacter-like DNA in the gastric mucosa of Thoroughbred horses’, Letters in Applied Microbiology, 45, 5 (November 2007) pp. 553-557

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About the Author
What is Hemp Out? Hemp Out is a social movement in support of the Hemp culture , by educating, marketing, promoting, socially engaging with consumers on all things hemp to grow a movement we tagged as ‘HEMP OUT’ its purpose, to educated the masses on hemp . It started with 8 savvy women & a stellar digital media design guy that span our efforts across North America. The team with their diverse backgrounds ranging from Nutrition experts, Activists, technicians to writers & researchers seriously fell in love with this incredible story of the hemp plant. We all felt a need to bring forward truth as this plant itself is the most misunderstood little plant alongside by its illicit cousin marijuana… and yet both but, are a remarkably versatile plant, with protective properties, it feeds our planet, saves lives, provides jobs and supports sustainability; we simply knew our mission at the Hemp Out Agency is we must educate the masses.

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