While exercising on an empty stomach may be more comfortable for humans, the same is not true for equines. Riding a horse before he gets fed could exacerbate his risk for gastric ulcers, reports The Horse.
The equine stomach is designed to have some food in it at all times; when fed a diet primarily made of forage, a protective “mat” of food lies on top of the acid in the stomach, preventing it from splashing up onto the area of the stomach that is not protected by a layer of mucus.
When horses don't have constant access to food, the barrier is diminished, allowing stomach acid to splash up onto the unprotected area and potentially cause gastric ulcers. Once a horse has finished a meal, it takes about 6 hours for the majority of the food to exit the stomach. If the horse is ridden hours after his last meal, his stomach does not have the same protection it might have if he had just eaten.
Allowing a horse to eat some hay before he is ridden, or offering him a supplement that protects the stomach lining or buffers stomach acid, can assist in keeping ulcers at bay.
Read more at The Horse.
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