EQUINE Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (EGUS) is a general term used to describe equine stomach ulcer disease. Studies show that up to 75% of sports horses, 98% of racehorses in training and 50% of leisure horses are affected by gastric (stomach) ulcers.

There are many clinical signs that may indicate a horse has gastric ulceration. Clinical signs include, but are not limited to, poor performance, resentment of girthing/tacking up, picky with feed, poor condition, recurrent colic, behavioural changes (the list goes on). It is extremely important to recognise that these clinical signs are often vague and non-specific.


As such, the only way to make a definitive diagnosis is gastroscopy. Gastroscopy is a procedure where a thin flexible tube called an endoscope is passed, via the nose, down the oesophagus into the stomach allowing visualisation of the stomach lining. To assess the stomach lining horses must be starved for 10-12 hours prior to the procedure. This can often be concerning for clients. Reassuringly starving is usually performed overnight when horses naturally go through a period of fasting and is tolerated very well. The information gained using gastroscopy as a diagnostic tool hugely outweighs any stress caused by a short period of fasting. Gastroscopy is a relatively quick, minimally invasive procedure performed under standing sedation. Many clinics now have ambulatory gastroscopes and can perform the procedure on the client’s yard.

There are two types of gastric ulceration, glandular and non-glandular which are diagnosed based on their location within the stomach. Grading of ulceration is usually associated with non-glandular ulceration whilst severity of glandular ulceration is described based on appearance.

The old-fashioned approach of “trial and treat” is not only expensive, but limited, as treatment options are specific to type and severity of lesions diagnosed using gastroscopy.