• Open Access

Gastric Ulcers in Standardbred Racehorses: Prevalence, Lesion Description, and Risk Factors


Department de Sciences Cliniques, Faculte de medecine veterinaire, Universite de Montreal, P.O. Box 5000, Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec J2S 7C6 Canada; e-mail: rachdionne@hotmail.com.


This study was performed to estimate the prevalence of gastric ulcers in Standardbred racehorses, to describe the lesion score and location, and to identify potential risk factors. Two hundred seventy-five (275) Standardbred horses from 5 training centers and 2 racetracks in Quebec, Canada, were studied. Historical data for the 2 months before examination were recorded for each horse, and the presence of gastric ulcers was determined by gastroscopy. A previously reported scoring system that used grades 0–3 for gastric lesions was used. Overall, 121 horses (44.0%; 95% CI, 38.1–50.1%) had gastric ulcers. The prevalence of gastric ulcers was significantly higher (P < .0001) in actively racing horses (63.3%; 95% CI, 54.7–71.2%) than in horses at rest. Multivariate analysis defined that horses in racing (OR = 9.29; 95% CI, 3.55-24.3) were significantly more likely to have gastric ulcers than horses at rest and that trotters (OR = 2.23; 95% CI, 1.28-3.86) were more likely to have gastric ulcers than pacers. The number of lesion sites (P < .0001) and poor body condition (P <0001) were significantly associated with lesion scores. Gastric ulcers are highly prevalent in Standardbred racehorses. Furthermore, actively racing horses and trotters are more likely to have gastric ulcers. Also, poor body condition in Standardbred racehorses may be an indication that gastric ulcers are present and that lesion scores are high. The cause-and-effect relationship between poor body condition and the presence of gastric ulcers is unclear.