Dealing With Horse Colic
While some horses may simply be predisposed to getting horse colic, and not all cases can be prevented, there are a number of measures you can take to help reduce the chances of your horse getting colic.
- Changes in feeding or feeding routines may predispose your horse to colic. Try keep to a feeding routine and a high quality diet that is nutritious, high in roughage and low in concentrate. Also make sure that your horse has access to plenty of fresh, clean water.
It’s important to understand that horses are creatures of habit. They need to have a consistent routine. As strong as they are they are also very sensitive to change. Some more than others. Make sure you get to know your horse’s “Horsonalilty” so that you can determine just how much they can handle.
- Try to feed your horse small amounts more frequently, rather than supplying one large meal. If your horse is too hungry by the time feeding comes, he may eat too quickly or eat too much which may cause horse colic.
Horses are foragers by nature. Horses in the wild travel up to 20 miles a day foraging around for their meals. They don’t stand at an all you can eat salad bar. Horses have evolved to assimilate smaller meals, not big meals once a day like we normally feed them. If you are feeding grain try to break it into smaller portions 2 or more times a day. This will help your horses sensitive digestion system to not be overburdened
- If you need to change your horse’s diet, do so gradually.
This seems like a no-brainer to me but I feel it’s worth mentioning. Again it goes back to my first point. No sudden changes period.
- Do not feed your horse on sandy surfaces where sand may be ingested.
Ever hear of sand colic? Here where I live in the mountains of East Tennessee we don’t have to worry about this. But every year when we go to Florida to ride in the winter this is always something I am very aware of. According to :
Mike Tomlinson D.V.M.
“Sand colic is the result of the building up of sand in the intestinal tract of the horse. There can be as much as 150 pounds of sand lying in the bottom of the horse’s belly. Eventually the sand can build up to the point that it totally blocks a loop of intestine. At this point, the horse becomes very painful from the buildup of hay and water in front of the blockage. Once this pressure builds to a certain point, it either pushes out the sand blockage or pops the intestine like an overfilled balloon. The intestinal rupture is always fatal. Moving sand out once it is ingested can be accomplished by two things: vigorous exercise and feeding psyllium. The exercise shakes up the intestinal contents mixing it with the psyllium that keeps it from settling back to the bottom and thereby moves out with everything else.
This is the best Psylium product for horses that I have found.
- Make parasite control a priority and determine their effectiveness with regular fecal examinations.
I personally believe this is one of the most important factors in avoiding Equine Colic. Over 20 years ago I first read an article in Western Horseman that an overload of intestinal parasites was the number one cause of horse colic. I have always made sure to de-worm my horses regularly and have never had a colicking horse. Parasites build up an immunity to chemical wormers, not to mentions that they are well… chemicals (poison) that have harmful side effects. Natural wormers are more gentle while still being completely effective with the added bonus of actually being beneficial to your horse. Wormfree Naturally can be given daily not only to eliminate existing parasites but to break the cycle of re-infestation.
- Make sure your horse is getting sufficient daily exercise and if changes are made to exercise or training routines, make sure they are done gradually.
Again this seems like common sense to me but time and again I see horse people taking their horses on a 4 hour trail ride only to find out that they haven’t been ridden in months. That’s like you going out and hiking 10 miles when you haven’t hiked in months. And to add to it, your horse is carrying the extra weight of you and your saddle. That’s like you hiking 10 miles with a 50 lb backpack for the first time in months. That would be tough huh? Use you good common sense on this one. Don’t ask your horse to do something they are not conditioned to do.
- Avoid the use of medications unless absolutely necessary and recommended by your vet. Many medications, especially pain relief medication can cause ulcers.
These are also known as Non Steroidal Anti-inflammatories or NSAIDs. Here is what Dr Stephen Sundlof of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has to say about them…
NSAIDs carry a risk of side effects, or adverse reactions. Most adverse reactions are mild, but some may be serious, especially if the drugs are not used according to labeled directions. Some reactions result in permanent damage or even death.
“It’s important for pet owners to be aware of the risks and benefits of all drugs, including NSAIDs, so that they can make informed decisions about their pets’ health care,” says Sundlof. “Owners who give their pets NSAIDs need to know the side effects to watch for that indicate their pet needs medical attention.”
The most common side effects from NSAIDs include vomiting, loss of appetite, depression, lethargy, and diarrhea. Serious side effects include gastrointestinal bleeding, ulcers, perforations, kidney damage, and liver problems.
Stephen F. Sundlof, D.V.M., Ph.D., Director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM).
- Check hay, bedding, and pastures regularly for any potentially toxic or hazardous substances or objects that may be ingested.
- Reduce your horses stress levels. Pay special attention during transportation, show time, and heavy work loads, or while your horse adjusts to a new home as these are often times of stress for your horse.
Two options for calming your horse during stressful times:
Ultra-Elite Calm & Focus Paste calming horse supplement is designed to support horses of all breeds that are exposed to stress. It’s a balanced formula containing the amino acid, L-Theanine (Suntheanine®brand) along with a Colostrum Calming Complex, which have calming properties that may help relax and quiet down excited or nervous horses.
Equine Horse Calm is a Homeopathic remedy to calm and soothe highly strung, stressed & anxious horses in rings and new areas. Equine Horse Calm is a 100% safe and natural FDA registered homeopathic remedy that uses ingredients known for their ability to support calm mood and soothed temperament in horses. Taken internally, the ingredients in EQuine Horse Calm are homeopathic, addressing acute symptoms such as rapid breathing, increased heart rate and resistance – helping your horse to adjust in a natural manner without causing drowsiness or lethargy.
- Longer turn-out times have been associated with reduced colic, so consider extending turn-out time if possible.
- If your horse has colic, try walking him or her to ease the discomfort. However, do not walk your horse to the point of exhaustion.
- Never administer pain drugs for colic without first consulting your vet. This may mask symptoms and make it difficult or impossible for your vet to diagnose the problem.
- Never let a horse with colic roll. If they have a twisted intestine rolling may cause serious damage. Rather try and get your horse up and walking.
Keep in mind that a horse in pain may be dangerous and may hurt you unintentionally. Caution should therefore always be exercised around a colicking horse.
Prevention is always the best course to follow but when your horse is actually colicking you need something that works-FAST! The best thing I have found is Say Whoa! Colic Relief . No Horse person should be without it!