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Am J Vet Res. 2002 Nov;63(11):1481-7.

Effects of exercise on gastric volume and pH in the proximal portion of the stomach of horses.

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  • 1Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville 32610-0136, USA.



To assess effects of exercise on a treadmill with changes in gastric volume and pH in the proximal portion of the stomach of horses.


3 healthy adult horses.


A polyester bag of approximately 1,600 mL was placed into the proximal portion of the stomach of each horse via a nasogastric tube. Changes in bag volume, determined by an electronic barostat, were recorded before, during, and after a training session on a treadmill with and without prior withholding of food. In separate experiments, pH in the proximal portion of the stomach was continuously recorded during exercise for fed and food-withheld conditions. Finally, changes in intra-abdominal and intragastric pressure were simultaneously recorded during a training session.


Bag volume rapidly decreased to nearly zero during trotting and galloping. Conversely, a return to walking resulted in a sharp increase in volume and a return to pre-exercise values. Intragastric and intra-abdominal pressures increased almost in parallel with walking, trotting, galloping, and galloping on a slope. Gastric pH decreased rapidly to < 4 at the beginning of walking, continued to decrease during trotting and galloping, and remained low until a return to walking.


Increased intra-abdominal pressure during intense exercise in horses causes gastric compression, pushing acidic contents into the proximal, squamous-lined region of the stomach. Increased duration of acid exposure directly related to daily duration of exercise may be the reason that squamous lesions tend to develop or worsen when horses are in intensive training programs.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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