Gastic ulcers often a trigger for “girthiness” in horses

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Gastric ulcers have been shown as a dominant cause of “girthiness” in horses, in a small retrospective study carried out in the US.

Girthiness is a frustrating and challenging problem for horse owners to deal with, causing normally placid and well-mannered horses to get upset as the girth is tightened.

For a retrospective study looking at the clinical signs and final diagnosis of horses referred to a university clinic for girthiness, Esther Millares-Ramirez and Sonia Le Jeune went back through the records of horses examined at the University of California, Davis between 2004 and 2012. During that time 37 horses had been referred for investigation of girthing problems.

The research has been published in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science.

The authors report that the final diagnosis was gastric ulceration in 12 horses, and orthopaedic problems in 10 horses. Ill-fitting saddles were responsible for three cases. Other diagnoses included reproductive tract neoplasia, liver abscess and urinary tract infection.

Not all horses were subjected to gastroscopic examination, but of those that were, 92% had gastric ulcers.

The authors conclude that determining the cause of girthiness remains a challenge, but they recommend that as gastric ulcers were commonly involved, investigation should include gastroscopy.

Girthiness: Retrospective Study of 37 Horses (2004-2016). Millares-Ramirez EM, Le Jeune SS. J Equine Vet Sci. (2019) 79:100-104. doi: 10.1016/j.jevs.2019.05.025

Equine Science Update

One thought on “Gastic ulcers often a trigger for “girthiness” in horses

  • December 11, 2019 at 8:31 pm

    Interesting read, and does make a lot of sense. Though I also do have to wonder whether there was a control group as majority of domestic horses would have ulcers to a degree, especially those from racing or high competition homes.


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