Does your horse rear, buck, spook, bolt? Maybe he´s "kicky" whilst riding, girthy, or nervous when ridden? Or does your horse simply look unhappy, wont pick up a right lead, maybe his coat is dull, he just had a yard change or his mate has gone? Does your horse compete regularly, therefore travel quite a bit? Yes to just one of these means the possibility of stomach ulcers in your horse.
Various studies have reported the incidence of ulcers to range from 40-60% in sport horses such as dressage, show jumping (McClure et al. 1999, Mitchell 2001), endurance (Nieto et al. 2004), and western performance (Bertone, 2000), while the incidence in race horses is reported to be as high as 80-90% (Murray, 1996-2000 and Vatistas, 1999).
“Almost 60% of performance horses have ulcers. Up to 57% of foals have stomach ulcers, particularly during the first several months of life. Most of these horses and foals show no signs of illness. “Gastric Ulcers in Horses,” by Robert N. Oglesby, DVM.) (USDF Connections, Oct. 2003.)."
Minimising stress is the obvious starting place to avoid ulcers. This would include being sure of a paddock mate (horses are meant to be outside!), keeping the stomach full of hay (the equine stomach constantly produces acid. If not digesting food that acid is looking for an outlet elsewhere!) and, preparing a horse thoroughly for competing. This includes relaxed, calm, trailer-mounting and travel, accustom them to noisy crowds and strange horses slowly but surely. Be sure their tack (saddle, bridle and bit, if you use one, all fit correctly) Be sure they have the head for the work you are asking of them!
Ulcers are not easy to detect. Hind gut ulcers harder still as they can not be scoped as can the fore gut. There are chemicals available to resolve ulcers and also many natural remedies which assist enormously well. On the Whole Horse Protocol Nutrition course you can learn about these.
In summary; Next time you think your horse has training issues, consider his intestinal health first. Get off and take a thorough look. Consider if he suffers any of the following; Poor appetite, Dullness, Attitude changes, Decreased performance, Reluctance to train, Poor body condition, Poor hair coat, Weight loss, Excessive time spent lying down, Low-grade colic and Loose feces. Then call your vet