Polo Players Edition

NOV 2018

Polo Players' Edition is the official publication of the U.S. Polo Association. Dedicated to the sport of polo, it features player profiles, game strategy, horse care, playing tips, polo club news and tournament results.

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38 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N (Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Louisiana State University) has been working on ulcer research for more than 25 years— first at University of Tennessee, and now at LSU. "Some of the things we're looking at are feed supplements that may help horses with ulcers. One of these is Sea Buckthorn berries," says Andrews. Pharmaceutical treatments (like omeprazole) for ulcers are expensive and also reduce acidity of the stomach—which may adversely affect digestion. There is increased interest in use of herbs and berries that may have therapeutic qualities. Berries and pulp from the Sea Buckthorn plant, for instance, are a rich source of vitamins, trace minerals, amino acids, antioxidants and other bioactive substances that seem to help in treating mucosal injuries, burns, bedsores/ pressure sores and stomach/duodenal ulcers in humans and rats. A feed supplement containing Sea Buckthorn berries may help in treatment and prevention of gastric ulcers without altering gastric juice pH. "We've been looking at this natural omega-complex and in one of our studies we evaluated whether it was effective in treatment and prevention of gastric ulcers in horses," explains Andrews. This study was done with eight horses. Each treatment phase (60 days) consisted of a control group that received feed only, and a treatment group that was fed the supplement twice daily mixed with grain. "The treatment phase was immediately followed by a prevention phase that consisted of intermittently feeding the horses to simulate a typical management scenario. Endoscopy was then performed, to check each horse before the treatment period, again on day 30 and on day 60, and following the intermittent feeding period (day 67). Gastric ulcer scores remained the same in horses that received the supplement, whereas ulcer scores increased in the untreated control group during the same period. Though the supplement did not significantly decrease the ulcer scores, they either stayed the same or improved in seven of the eight supplemented horses. "We found that feeding this supplement, does help keep ulcer scores from getting worse, so we feel this product has the potential to prevent the worsening of ulcers in horses that are housed in stalls and stressed," says Andrews. "These types of supplements may be helpful to prevent ulcers from recurring after successful treatment with omeprazole (GastroGard paste). We put horses that had chronic ulcers on this supplement and it seemed to help," he says. "Our research is focused on natural products to help keep ulcers from recurring. From laboratory studies we know that GastroGard paste (omeprazole) is the gold standard for ulcer treatment," says Andrews. If horses have ulcers you have to get them healed before you can rely on a preventative. "Using a pharmaceutical agent like GastroGard (FDA approved for treatment of gastric ulcers in horses) is important, but we realize that keeping horses on anti-ulcer medication for the rest of their lives has economic as well as possible health implications, since it alters the pH of the stomach long-term. Many people are on ulcer medications long-term and can never seem to get off them. Our goal is to find ways to manipulate the horse's diet and find natural supplements that can help keep ulcers from returning, by coating the stomach or stimulating the body's own healing mechanisms. These might also protect horses that don't have ulcers—and keep them from getting ulcers." Probiotics "Another thing we've looked at is use of probiotics that contain bacteria such as lactobacillus and acidophilus," says Andrews. "We did a study with a microbiologist and equine clinicians at the University of Queensland in Australia and found that ulcer scores decreased in horses fed a high-grain diet when they were given oral probiotics as well as antibiotics. The times we recommend antibiotics are when a horse has ulcers that just don't heal, even with GastroGard. Some of the research in rats suggests that if there are bacteria involved with the ulcer, they inhibit healing. When you give antibiotics and kill the bacteria within the ulcer, it can then heal," says Andrews. When probiotic preparations are used, An endoscope, a long tube fitted with a light and camera, is inserted into the stomach through the nostril and throat to enable the vet to look for ulcers. At a scoping event for polo ponies in Wellington, Florida, in March 2010, half the horses scoped had ulcers. (continued from page 17)

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