Each February, Equine Guelph declares the month as Colic Prevention Education Month. The number one killer of horses, colic is a topic every horse owner wants to stay current on.

Equine Guelph provides many ways for horse care takers to do just that with the Colic Risk Rater, a highly popular, free, online healthcare tool. And now, new leading-edge, evidence-based content pertaining to the current understanding of gastric ulcers has been added to Equine Guelph’s short courses on gut health offered on TheHorsePortal.ca.

Stomach ulcers fall under the umbrella of colic, which is defined as ‘pain in the abdomen’. Ulcers are under diagnosed but certainly not uncommon in horses, particularly high-performance ones. Incidence reports range from 60 – 90%! Ulcers can be very painful for the horse, and as a result, the horse may show signs that are common to colic or recurrent colic.

Gastric Ulcers — Horses have a small stomach (holding only 8-10L of fluid), and are meant to graze and eat frequent, small portions of feed for extended periods each day. In a natural grazing situation, a steady flow of acid is required for digestion and the acid is buffered by both feed and saliva. As such, the horse’s stomach produces gastric acid at all times, even when the horse is not eating. If the stomach is empty, the mucosa acid will cause ulcers in the stomach’s protective lining. It is therefore important to have forage in the horse’s stomach to help absorb stomach acid.

In February 2023, two online short courses will be offered on TheHorsePortal.ca addressing colic and ulcer prevention – one for horse caretakers and a specialized course for those who care for racehorses:

Gut Health & Colic/Ulcer Prevention: February 13 – 24
Racehorse Gut Health & Ulcer/Colic Prevention: February 27 – March 10

Students who complete the Colic Risk Rater (www.TheHorsePortal.ca/ColicTool) interactive questionnaire before and after Equine Guelph’s gut health courses are often surprised by the differences in their score and how simple management changes can reduce their risk of gastro intestinal health issues.

“I’d like to encourage everyone to visit or revisit the Colic Risk Rater tool on The Horse Portal,” says Mike King, national lead of equine programs at Acera Insurance Services Ltd. (formerly CapriCMW Insurance). “We can think of no better risk management tool to prevent colic than education. This free tool and the Gut Health & Colic/Ulcer Prevention course offered by Equine Guelph are well worth the investment.”

Stay tuned to Equine Guelph’s social media channels all month for tips on how to prevent colic and promote gut health. February is a month where water sources freeze, the urge to get out and exercise dwindles, and forage supplies may become scarce but savvy horse owners persist in upholding best practices because they know mobility and keeping forage and water trickling through the GI tract are integral to good digestive health.

The Colic Risk Rater is available on Equine Guelph’s education platform, TheHorsePortal.ca and is kindly sponsored by Acera Insurance Services Ltd. (formerly CapriCMW Insurance). The invaluable tool takes 10 minutes to complete, calculates your horse’s risk for colic and provides a downloadable print out of prevention tips. It’s 10 minutes of your time that could save thousands of dollars in veterinary bills and prevent suffering.