BY MOLLY SORGE
When Elizabeth Ehrlich’s mare, Bella, started showing symptoms of ulcers—pinning her ears while being groomed and becoming spooky and reactive under saddle—in the summer of 2016, she turned to the tried-and-true ulcer treatment, a course of Omeprazole.
Once Bella was feeling better, Ehrlich knew she needed a product to keep her mare’s digestive tract healthy as she sought to prevent further ulcers from developing – a prescription drug was not the long-term answer. Ehrlich looked into a variety of ulcer-prevention products on the market but was not happy with what she found—many products had mixed reviews and almost all had a hefty price tag.
So, Ehrlich decided to take matters into her own hands and create a digestive health supplement for Bella. As an experienced lawyer, Ehrlich was well equipped with formidable research skills, which she put to work finding an affordable, all-natural supplement to improve equine digestive health. “There’s a ton of research available for anybody who wants to go online and read medical studies that have been done on horses with ulcers, their causes, how you treat them, and what you can do to help prevent them from coming back,” said Ehrlich.
“I read a lot of medical research. I spent years as a lawyer reading cases in law journals, and those were far more difficult to understand. I did the research, I understood the problem, then I read about potential solutions,” Ehrlich continued.
Ehrlich knew she wanted to use all-natural ingredients, and she wanted to take a more holistic approach to gut health. Current products on the market mostly concentrated on buffering acid in the digestive tract, but had few preventative and long-term health benefits. “I really only needed to focus on a few things—build the underlying mucosa to strengthen the horse’s natural protective barrier, include a strong natural anti-inflammatory, help increase circulation, and boost the immune system,” Ehrlich said. “Then when I really started researching which food substances are high in the amino acids or the omega-3 fatty acids to achieve that, it really just came down to a small universe of ingredients, which are the ones I settled on. In addition, these ingredients have so many other health benefits.”
Safe and Effective
She tried out various formulations, using Bella as her initial test subject, and by the fall of 2016 she had fine-tuned the supplement now known as Ulceraser. Bella and the other eventual test subjects quickly showed improvement on Ehrlich’s final formula.
Ehrlich sent Ulceraser to her friends and fellow horsemen who had horses on other digestive supplements. “I had a fairly large sample size of people from across the country with different horses, different programs and different types of training, and consistently, without fail, the feedback was the same,” she said. “Within two to 2½ weeks, the horses were more comfortable, less spooky and irritable, and they were performing and eating better. Their overall attitudes improved.”
One of Ehrlich’s main goals was to also to ensure that the product wouldn’t produce a positive drug test result in Fédération Equestre Internationale and US Equestrian testing. “The whole purpose of the supplement is that it’s a maintenance product. As long as the horses are training, showing and shipping, they need to be on it,” she said. “If you had to take them off it a certain number of days before you compete because you’re worried about a positive test result, then you’re defeating the purpose of having a maintenance product. It had to be show safe.”
She sent Ulceraser to an official FEI-testing lab for a comprehensive prohibited substance screen. The testing certified that Ulceraser contains no prohibited substances.
With that certification in hand, Ehrlich set out to spread the word about Ulceraser. “I would literally go up to someone at a show and introduce myself. I would ask friends using the product for introductions. I even used social media to make introductions,” she said. “I would tell people about the product and how it works and give them the certificate of analysis showing that it’s horse show safe. I’d ask if it was something they might be willing to try for their horses. People were really interested. They all seemed to realize that gut health is a huge issue. Almost everybody wanted to try it.”
Making a Difference at the Top
Fast forward less than two years, and horsemen like George Morris, McLain Ward, Shane Sweetnam, Scott Stewart, Jimmy Torano, Tori Colvin, Carleton Brooks, Quentin Judge, Patricia Griffith, and Peter Pletcher use the product and sing its praises. “After a short period of time using Ulceraser, we noticed a significant improvement in physical health, appearance, and performance of our horses,” said Brooks. “We were so impressed with the results that all of our horses now get it! We are thrilled with this natural, high-quality supplement.”
At horse shows across the country and internationally, horses that are consistently at the top of their divisions are receiving Ulceraser as part of their feeding program. The overall grand and overall reserve grand champion ponies at USEF Pony Finals both use Ulceraser daily. In addition, at the Hampton Classic, the top three horses in the $300,000 Hampton Classic Grand Prix—HH Gigi’s Girl with McLain Ward, Main Road with Shane Sweetnam, and Caracho with Lucy Davis—all had riders that make Ulceraser part of their program. Yes, they all have amazing riders, but another common denominator is Ulceraser.
Ulceraser’s success has allowed Ehrlich to focus on her company, Equine Elixirs, full-time, leaving her legal career behind. Now that Ulceraser has become a staple in top show barns, she’s busy developing new Equine Elixirs products to help make horses healthier and happier. This fall, she plans to release two new products. The first is a healthy treat that promotes similar gut health. The second product is an all-natural alternative to Depo-Provera, or medroxyprogesterone, and is in response to the ongoing debate about the use of Depo, and likelihood that it will be banned from competition soon. To come up with an all-natural product that can replace Depo, Ehrlich applied her research skills to first understand how medroxyprogesterone affects horses, and then looked for natural ingredients that would have similar effects.
“I kept circling back to the same group of plants and extracts that have been used for hundreds of years in people and animals very effectively,” Ehrlich said. “My horse has been off of Depo for almost a year now and has been on this new product since then. The new product is so effective, she acts the same as when she was on the Depo. It’s a daily liquid supplement that’s fed twice a day, so you don’t have that up and down associated with diminishing effects of a weekly injection. It’s a consistent delivery.”
Ehrlich also has ideas for other products in the future, including an anti-inflammatory supplement. “I don’t think about it in terms of how big it can get,” she says of Equine Elixirs’ expansion. “I think of it in terms of how many original and effective products can we create that help horses and make their riders happy.”