Thé reason why you should never train your horse on an empty stomach

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The reason why you should never train your horse on an empty stomach

Us humans can be influenced by starting the day on an empty stomach. But is this the same with horses? One of the members of Morgan Lashley’s online training wondered and Morgen let her experience speak. Horses have a very different gastrointestinal tract than humans. The big difference is that the stomach acid isn’t produced at the moment that horses are eating, like it’s with humans. Our stomach acid only gets released when we’re eating and it’s absorbed by our food.

With horses the stomach acid is constantly produced, which has to be neutralized.

This is done by the saliva that horses use to swallow their hay. Because horses has to chew more on hay, there’s also more saliva produced, which neutralizes the stomach acid and protects the stomach to stomach ulcers. Stomach ulcers can be caused by stomach acid. Because when a horse moves without food in his stomach to absorb the stomach acid, the acid can splash against the stomach wall. This can cause irritations and can eventually lead to stomach ulcers.
”Splashing stomach acid in an empty stomach can give irritations on the stomach wall and eventually lead to stomach ulcers.”

So because stomach acid is constantly produced with horses, they also have to be able to eat constantly.

Way back in the wild, horses would also eat constantly throughout the day. Now we’ve divided it into sessions. But this means that the risk of stomach ulcers increases when a horse is longer than 4 hours without roughage. Especially horses at a livery suffer from this, because they often get their last portion of hay in the end of the evening. And they get their next hay around 8 o’clock in the morning again. If the livery doesn’t give a very big portion of hay, there are a lot of horses that don’t have any roughage for a couple of hours.

So you can best let your horse eat a little bit before you start training him.

But make sure it’s not too much, because that can also have a negative result. If your horse eats too much and he starts moving with a full stomach, the blood will flow to the gastrointestinal tract instead of towards the legs. And that can cause cramp, just like in humans. So choose a bit of hay or another form of roughage to feed your horse to absorb the stomach acid.

Don’t just give concentrates.

Concentrates will move quite fast through the stomach and can even cause acidification in the gastrointestinal tract. When it’s difficult to provide hay in the morning, for example because you have certain rules at your livery, you can choose to feed your horse luzerne. This is also some form of roughage and it’s something that you can buy yourself. Give your horse a full scoop before the training, so there’s a layer of food inside the stomach that can absorb the stomach acid and prevents splashing.
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