Some horses get get a reputation for stressing out when their girth is tightened, swishing their tail, pinning their ears, kicking out or even trying to bite the person tightening the girth. There is no single cause of girthiness in horses. Back pain, saddle fit, ulcers and other causes may all play a role in the horse's discomfort.
Drs. Esther Millares-Ramirez and Sonia S Le Jeune completed a retrospective study assessing clinical signs and diagnosis of 37 horses referred to the University of California, Davis, between 2004 and 2012 for girthiness. The scientists reported that gastric ulceration was the diagnosis in 12 of the horses; 10 other horses had orthopedic issues.
Three horses had saddles that didn't fit, and the other diagnoses included liver abscess, urinary tract infection and reproductive tract issues. Not every horse was scoped for gastric ulcers, but of those that were scoped, 92 percent had gastric ulcers.
The researchers note that determining the cause of girthiness is a challenge, but they recommend that gastric ulcers be considered when the horse shows discomfort when being girthed.
Read more at Equine Science Update.
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