Equine stomach function and anatomy probably isn’t at the forefront of most horse owners’ thoughts. However, there are a few things performance horse owners should know about this digestive organ, as it is the site of a common condition: Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome.
The first thing to be aware of is this: the horse stomach has two main sections: non-glandular and glandular and interestingly enough, there is a clearly defined band of tissue called the margo plicatus which separates these two sections.
The margo plicatus also happens to be where gastric ulcers are often first spotted, and, in fact, most gastric ulcers form somewhere along this dividing line in the stomach.
Horse stomach anatomy
The non-glandular, aka squamous region, is technically an extension of the horse’s esophagus and makes up approximately one third of the entire stomach and lower esophagus. This portion of the stomach has fewer protective mechanisms against hydrochloric acid and, therefore, is a common site of gastric ulceration (again, often first forming along the margo plicatus).
The glandular section makes up the rear two thirds of the horse’s stomach and can be further subdivided into three specific sections: cardiac, fundic, and pyloric.
The cardiac section is located closest to the margo plicatus, while the fundic section makes up the main body of the stomach. The pyloric section accounts for the lowest portion of the stomach that leads to the duodenum (first part of the small intestine).
The important thing to know about the glandular region of the stomach is that its cells secrete mucus and it also contains acid-producing glands, which serve a purpose during food digestion but can also lead to stomach ulcers in horses when the animal is under emotional or physical stress and/or doesn’t have enough access to forage.
Protecting your horse’s sensitive stomach
Not only is gastric ulceration painful and often performance-limiting, but ulcers can also affect your horse’s overall gut health, and possibly lead to a cascade of other health issues.
The good news, however, is that research suggests that high-quality probiotics may make a difference in both preventing and treating gastric ulcers due to the fact that they support a healthy gut microbial population and help to maintain a neutral pH in the stomach.
For ongoing ulcer prevention and support, performance horses can benefit from Fullbucket’s Athletic Formula. This product is a uniquely designed power boosting formula containing eight strains of the most scientifically tested probiotics, as well as prebiotics, essential vitamins, yeast, biotin, and digestive enzymes which further improve nutrient digestibility.
Truth be known, many horses are, in fact, getting sufficient nutrients in their current diet, but due to gastric ulcers, may not be assimilating those nutrients; this is another crucial area where the Athletic Formula can help.
Aside from supporting a healthy equine digestive tract, this product also supports energy and stamina, bones and joints, hooves, skin, immune health, and fertility, so your horse will be performing at its highest potential from the inside out.