What is it? 
Colic is a word used to describe abdominal pain, it can initially indicate that there is a problem with the gut but it could also be other organs that are contained within the abdomen. There are so many different causes for the it can range from something as simple as the horse isn't digesting it's good but could be as complicated as a twisted gut. The main thing to remember is that prevention is essential, the risk of a horse getting it can be reduced by simple management techniques but it can never truly be eliminated. 

As well as obvious general changes in a horses temperament a horse with colic can also show other signs. Here are the signs that a horse might have colic, restlessness and pawing at the ground, sweating and an increased heart rate when there is no apparent reason for it. Trying to kick at the stomach because it is irritating them, going as if to urinate but not being able to. Attempting to roll and an elevated pulse rate.

Why is Colic so common? 
Horses originally had a different diet to the one that we expect them to eat nowadays, the time and manner in which horses eat has changed considerably over time, even a horse that lives off grass has a different diet to its elders. However his intestines have not changed to match the changes that have happened in the diet, as a result horses are susceptible to digestion problems. Horses are also not able to vomit meaning that the can not get rid of toxins, or food that hasn't been properly digested. Because the animal is a herbivore the guy has a large absorptive area, this leaves the horse susceptible to toxins being absorbed very quickly. In herd situations natural feeding is grazing on the move, and is known as trickle feeding, this means the horse eats large quantities of low energy food, through out the day spending roughly 16 hours every day eating. Horse management today consists of two hard feeds, rationing hay and sometimes stable for eight hours with no food or exercise, this is so different to the lives that horses have been designed to lead. A horses change from natural or ideal situations means that the horse can react to extra stress, which is often a cause of Colic.

Preventing Colic? 
Making sure that the horse always a fresh supply of water. The horse also needs small and frequent feeds of concentrates if necessary. Hard feed should only be used as a supplement to grazing and high fibre food available to horses. Make sure to plan a diet that consists of high fibre content, using hay and a ratio of roughly at least 60 percent hay. Make sure that the food is in good quality, and making sure that it is not mouldy. Set a regular exercise programme making sure tat the horse is fit enough for what you want to do. Make sure to cool off after riding, and when changing food do it slowly, not in a rush. Make sure that you have regular dental visits. Don't let the horse have to much lush spring grass as this is a change in the diet. Ensure to worm regularly and have a daily routine. 

What to do if a horse Colics? 
Call a vet immediately, by checking the pulse, temperate and respiratory rate frequently you will be able to tell when the horse is having problems and not on his/her normal levels. You must remove food from the horse. Make sure the horse is in a safe area and check them, make sure the areas free form hazards. If your horse appears to be anxious, attempting to roll and restless and is in a safe area  keep watching but do not interfere. If the symptoms are mild walk the horse gentally but follow vets advice. 

What to do while waiting for the vet?
While you are waiting for the vet to be called you need to try and keep the horse as calm and quiet as is possible, keep an eye on the sign and do NOT give the horse anything to eat or drink. Look when the horse was last wormed and check if anything unusual was eaten prior to the symptoms occurring.

In Mild cases of colic, the vet may give the horse drugs to relieve any pain and help to get the horse to relax, this may then allow the gut to start working properly. Keep an eye on your horses progress and keep your vet informed if any changes occur. In more serious cases that do not respond to initial drug treatment, the vet may decide that the best option is surgery, this means the horse would need to be transported to a local equine hospital. If you know your horse has a history of colic, keep a really close eye on your horse.

Until Next Time 
A Girl With A Dream


  1. i have seen plenty of mild to moderate cases of colic, its very stressful for all involved waiting to see if they will get better or worse. Watching the vet put a nasogastric tube down a horse to pump meds/ oil in was amazing to say the least.

  2. I saw it for the fast time last friday and was like omg thats got to be so hard, i learnt so mcuh from it :"D

  3. Shadow, our resident drama queen, suffers from chronic colic. He also has bouts of "cranial" colic when he is in a tizzy over something. We keep a supply of Mineral Oil handy as our first line of defense (a dose of that and a stroll through the "poop zone" will usually solve the problem ;o)
    Banamine is also in our tack room, but we only use it as a last resort. Nice post!

  4. Hi jen, I learnt something new from your comment :) i am loving finding out about all different horse things, find it really interesting :')

    Glad you liked the post :)

  5. yes my friend just lost her horse to colic in the small intestine. It is different from impaction and comes on quickly and there is usually little you can do.

  6. Thar must have been hard for her, my instructor and friend horse died in late september/october from colic. And it was a horse she'd had since she was a kid.


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