FBT for Early Detection of GI Conditions

Horses that are ridden regularly, and especially those that travel and compete at any level, need to be able to perform at their best. From a performance standpoint, when poor digestive health reaches clinical conditions such as gastric and colonic ulcers, hindgut acidosis, and colic – it’s already too late. The horse is likely unable to train or compete to its full potential – if at all.

But even subclinical gastrointestinal pathologies like low-grade hindgut inflammation, while common, are more difficult to diagnose because they have less obvious impact on health. In the absence of loose or watery stools, inappetance, weight loss, and other clear physical signs of suboptimal digestive health, changes in attitude, behavior, and performance may still signal gastrointestinal distress.

Test Based on Behavioral and Performance Issues

A new horse in a training program may come with problems: resistance, lethargy, lack of suppleness, short striding, and more. These may very well be training, riding, tack, or lameness issues, but they may also be related to problems in the gut. Alternatively, a horse displaying sudden changes in behavior and physical ability under saddle may be underperforming due to gut health.

The SUCCEED Equine Fecal Blood Test can help rule in (or out) problems in the gastrointestinal tract such as hindgut inflammation, ulcers, anemia, and more that may impact behavior and performance. Any of these non-clinical signs may be cause to test with the FBT:

  • Poor coat health. Natural shine and dapples are one signal of optimal digestive health and cannot be replicated with any amount of grooming or spray sheens.
  • Sensitive Flanks. Horses make flinch or react adversely when being brushed along their flanks or to leg pressure when ridden.
  • Irritability. One of the possible reasons a horse is irritable on the ground and under saddle may arise from digestive discomfort.
  • Resistance. Horses may resist on the ground or under saddle, be reluctant to move forward or respond to leg aids, or be difficult in training when they are uncomfortable.
  • Cribbing. While for some this is learned behavior, some horses may crib or windsuck to relieve pain in their stomachs.
  • Difficulty performing. Discomfort in the hindgut especially may impact a horse’s stride length, suppleness, collection, and jumping ability.
  • Lamenesses. Discomfort in the colon can lead to a horse favoring one side. This, in turn, could give rise to fatigue and even injury in the legs and joints.

Benefits of Detecting Gut Problems in Horses Early

As with most health conditions, the earlier gastrointestinal conditions are identified and treated the more quickly they can be reversed and the less likely they will develop into something worse.

Because diseases, disease etiology, structure, and function vary between the equine foregut and hindgut, it’s critical to provide treatments that are localized in order to be most effective and avoid exacerbating issues or creating new ones.

Equine Fecal Blood Testing for Early Detection

The SUCCEED Equine Fecal Blood Test is carefully calibrated to detect true pathological conditions in the horse’s foregut and hindgut, but is also sensitive enough to positively identify subclinical hindgut problems. This dual antibody test uses equine-specific antibodies to detect the presence of blood components in a horse’s feces within a specific range that indicates a true pathological condition:

  • Test A – detects the blood component albumin. Occult albumin in the feces would have originated in the hindgut.
  • Test H – detects hemoglobin. Hemoglobin in the feces may have originated anywhere along the GI tract.

When taken together, these results provide a reliable indication of GI tract injury (lesions, ulcers, inflammation or other damage to the mucosa that may produce albumin, hemoglobin or both). The nature of albumin and hemoglobin allows for differentiation of the source of that injury as well as some general indication of the severity.

Learn more about this antibody technology, how to read and understand test results, and how veterinarians may utilize results in the context of a full work-up.