Preventing Colic

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Preventing Colic

This is a discussion on Preventing Colic within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category

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    06-05-2008, 06:16 PM
Preventing Colic

What are some surefire ways to prevent colic from happning? Basically all I know is not riding after meals, or right before meals and keeping an eye on the horse's diet. What else can you do?

Btw, my mare has never colicked as far as I know, and I want it to stay that way. At my old barn a lot of horses died from colic and it really freaks me out.

Right now Jubilee is on 24/hr turnout. There are hay bales out in the field, and a bit of grass. She also gets one am feeding of sweet feed and one pm feeding of sweet feed. (One feeding = folger's coffee can size). She also gets a scoop of powdered flax in the morning. Does this sound ok? This is what her previous owner gave her (minus the flax) and she's been perfectly fine so far.
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    06-05-2008, 07:07 PM
Her feeding sounds good, way more than my girls get. Unless your talking a 1 lb. Folgers can, that's what I feed, only once a day and I feed stratagy by Purina. Actually less than a pound now that they are on pasture all day and hay at night.
I have never done it but I know there are products out there that prevent colic. I believe its just a once a month or once a week feeding thing. I've even hear feeding metamucil every once in awhile is a good preventative.
    06-05-2008, 07:14 PM
Thanks Vida. I found this article that talks about feeding.

It sounds like horses on 24/hr are safer ...
    06-05-2008, 07:27 PM
I think you posted the wrong link. I'm very intrested to read the article if you can find it again.
I often wonder if its a breed or genetic thing. Mine all seem to have pretty sound tummys. They eat some of the weidest stuff like leaves and tree stems and bark, hedge apples and never get sick.
    06-05-2008, 07:30 PM
Haha. Oops. Here's the right one:

    06-05-2008, 07:48 PM
I talked to my vet about that and she said that 80% of her colic cases are ones that either the horse is in a stall 24/7 or even just in at night. She said it's better for the hrose to be outside 24/7 and they colic idea why though
    06-05-2008, 09:23 PM
We follow KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) for our mares. Never stalled, free choice hay and a cup of grain a day...and they have never had colic or anything else. Sounds like you're doing fine.
    06-06-2008, 12:52 AM
Originally Posted by SonnyWimps
I talked to my vet about that and she said that 80% of her colic cases are ones that either the horse is in a stall 24/7 or even just in at night. She said it's better for the hrose to be outside 24/7 and they colic idea why though
This might be your answer:

When it comes to maintaining digestive health, the best thing your horse can put in his mouth is grass, a high-fiber, low-carbohydrate feed containing eight to 10 percent protein. The second-best horse feed is grass in its dried, stored form, otherwise called hay. The bulk delivered by a fibrous grass/hay diet is a key weapon in fighting the colic wars because consistent gut fill maintains a continuous level of digestive activity, free of feast-or-famine stresses. Additionally, horses usually chew hay twice as long as grain. The more they chew, the more saliva is generated and mixed in, which helps buffer the stomach against acids.
    06-06-2008, 02:36 AM
I agree with what was said above, but it is also movement that keeps the horse from colic. A horse is designed to be moving all the time. If you do feed a horse a diet that is high in rich carbohydrates such as grains, you STILL have less of a chance of your horse colicing if he or she is allowed enough space to move around all day. Also, feeding your horse at ground level aids with digestion because it is a natural postition and helps the horse swallow his food properly. Basically, horses are designed to eat and move. So if your horse is given access to free forage and is able to move around, they are generally happier and healthier. I personally discourage grain unless you are trying to put weight on a horse; I don't even like complete feeds because of the mills and crappy byproducts that are put in the food. I like to feed beetpulp because it is high in fiber and keeps the digestive track moving along. I feed beet pulp with grass hay, and try to stay away from straight alfalfa unless the horse is working a lot or has a hard time keeping weight. I noticed that just feeding the way that I do makes my horse very happy and super healthy. I make sure he gets 50 minutes of moderate/hard exercise at least 5 days a week and has plenty of room to roam.
    06-06-2008, 02:38 AM

Colic by definition is simply abdominal pain. There are many causes for colic, some much more serious than others. Examples below:

Irregular feeding times
Lack of water
Giving excess water to hot horses or horses deprived of water
Excess grain
Moldy feed
Improperly chewed food due to bolting or poor teeth
Overeating grain when hungry from being off feed
A diet of extremely coarse roughage or very fine rough-age
Consuming foreign objects
Feeding on the ground where sand can be ingested
Feeding excessive salt to salt-deprived horses when water is not readily available (rare)

Good horse management can "prevent" colic if anything is possible. Many colics go completely un-noticed and resolve themselves without any human intervention. But proper horse management is really the only "prevention" there is. Good quality feed and hay, plenty of water, good deworming program, regular dental check ups, monitoring your horses during and after exercise. If you are in a sand rich area of the country, then use a sand prevention product, there are many commercially available.

Do the reasearch, talk to your vet, pay attention to your horse and recognize when something is "not right". Even without being able to describe all of the symptoms, causes or treatments of colic; being able to recognize that your horse is not feeling well is a big step to getting them the help they need in an emergency.

A few other things to remember:

Create a relationship with a vet. Have them provide annual check ups, vaccinations, coggins, etc. Vets don't like being called out for emergencies only and some vets won't come if you are not their regular client.

If you don't have a horse trailer, find a trailer that could be available in the event of an emergency. Colics, more often than not, occur after dark. 10 pm is a bad time to start calling strangers for a ride to the vet hospital.

Finally, don't freak out. If you do notice something is wrong, calm down first, then take account of the situation. Grab a pen and note pad. Start taking notes, what you see, what he is doing, how long it's been going on, take his pulse, breath rate, temperature, check his gums and keep track of the time. This should only take a few minutes to do, get a helping hand to assist you if need be. Then call the vet. You need to have a these notes first because the vet will start asking questions and if you don't have answers that only delays the vets response.

Depending on your vet, your abilities, your available drugs on hand, and the seriousness of the situation, your vet may choose to talk you through it and wait it out. Other vets will want to be there during the process. Either way, have your note pad and information ready to discuss the problem. And most of all, stay calm. Horses can sense our emotions and a stressed out human does not help a horse already in distress.

Hope this helps.

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