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Effect of moving from being extensively managed out in pasture into training on the incidence of equine gastric ulcer syndrome in Icelandic horses

Nanna LutherssonHestedoktoren, Hojgaard Sjaelland ApS, Hvalsovej 298, 4360 Kr. Eskilstrup, Denmark

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Úndína Ýr ÞorgrímsdóttirDyrlaege ehf, Vidarás 85, Reykjavík, Iceland

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Patricia A. HarrisEquine Studies Group, Waltham Petcare Science Institute, Melton Mowbray, UK

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Tim ParkinsBristol Veterinary School, University of Bristol, Langford, Bristol, UK

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Euan D. BennetBristol Veterinary School, University of Bristol, Langford, Bristol, UK
School of Biodiversity, One Health and Veterinary Medicine, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To investigate equine squamous gastric disease (ESGD) and equine glandular gastric disease (EGGD) in Icelandic horses moving from pasture into training.

ANIMALS

81 horses (median age, 3 years; interquartile range, 1 year) from 10 farms representing 4 different Icelandic regions.

PROCEDURES

Initial gastroscopy was undertaken within 2 weeks of moving from pasture into a training establishment. A total of 71 horses underwent endoscopic examination again 8 weeks later. Various management and behavioral factors were assessed through face-to-face questionnaires with the owners or trainers. Multivariable logistic regression was used to determine factors contributing to any change in ESGD and EGGD severity score during the 8-week training period.

RESULTS

Incidence of EGGD and ESGD in this feral population was similar to that found in domesticated horses. ESGD incidence (severity score, ≥ 2; score range, 0 to 4) reduced from an initial 71.6% (58/81) to 25.4% (18/71). On multivariable analysis, sex (ie, being a stallion or a female vs gelding) increased the likelihood of ulcer grade reduction. Being fed preserved forage 3 or more times a day also improved the likelihood of ESGD reduction (odds ratio, 17.95; 95% CI, 1.67 to 193.40; P = .017). Overall, the farm explained 35% of the variance, confirming the importance of management factors. Incidence of EGGD (severity score, ≥ 1; score range, 0 to 2) reduced from 47% (38/81) to 40.8% (29/71) during the same period. No measured variables were associated significantly with EGGD incidence or reduction.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Pasture provision (without supplementary feed or forage) does not result automatically in a low incidence of gastric ulcers. Regular provision of preserved forage is a key factor in reducing ESGD incidence.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To investigate equine squamous gastric disease (ESGD) and equine glandular gastric disease (EGGD) in Icelandic horses moving from pasture into training.

ANIMALS

81 horses (median age, 3 years; interquartile range, 1 year) from 10 farms representing 4 different Icelandic regions.

PROCEDURES

Initial gastroscopy was undertaken within 2 weeks of moving from pasture into a training establishment. A total of 71 horses underwent endoscopic examination again 8 weeks later. Various management and behavioral factors were assessed through face-to-face questionnaires with the owners or trainers. Multivariable logistic regression was used to determine factors contributing to any change in ESGD and EGGD severity score during the 8-week training period.

RESULTS

Incidence of EGGD and ESGD in this feral population was similar to that found in domesticated horses. ESGD incidence (severity score, ≥ 2; score range, 0 to 4) reduced from an initial 71.6% (58/81) to 25.4% (18/71). On multivariable analysis, sex (ie, being a stallion or a female vs gelding) increased the likelihood of ulcer grade reduction. Being fed preserved forage 3 or more times a day also improved the likelihood of ESGD reduction (odds ratio, 17.95; 95% CI, 1.67 to 193.40; P = .017). Overall, the farm explained 35% of the variance, confirming the importance of management factors. Incidence of EGGD (severity score, ≥ 1; score range, 0 to 2) reduced from 47% (38/81) to 40.8% (29/71) during the same period. No measured variables were associated significantly with EGGD incidence or reduction.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Pasture provision (without supplementary feed or forage) does not result automatically in a low incidence of gastric ulcers. Regular provision of preserved forage is a key factor in reducing ESGD incidence.

Contributor Notes

Corresponding author: Dr. Harris (pat.harris@effem.com)