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Mild Colic - Causes?

4580 Views 12 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  tealamutt
A few weeks ago Bundy had a very mild case of colic at a competition. it passed really quickly and he was fine, so I didn't think more about it However, it happened again last night so I would love to know what is causing it.

At the competition - We had ridden all day. I got off, cooled him down, rugged him and put him in his yard with water, hay and his (small) feed. It's a fairly new feed (Prydes Easi-Sport) but I had given him small amounts a few times during the weeks leading up and he had no reaction. He started to look uncomfortable after he ate about half of it - He was curling his lip, looking at his belly and not eating. So I walked him for maybe 5 minutes and he started perking up, he pooped, and started eatign again so I left him to it and just watched. he was fine after that.

Last night - Had been for a short, easy ride (20 mins?) and had walked back, unsaddled and tied him up. I gave him a small feed again of the pellets and left him to eat while I took Latte away a bit to eat. And again, about halfway through the small amount he started curling his lip and looking at his belly/pawing the ground. So I tipped the rest of his feed out and walked him for 8-10 and by the time we got halfway back to the paddock he was eating again, pooping, and happy. Again he was fine after that.

I am stumped - It seems like it's the feed as it has happened both times when he was eating - But he had only been eating for a max of 2 minutes - how could it affect him in such a short time? I thought it might have been because he had a long hard day at the competition, but yesterday he didn't even break a sweat and neither did Latte who I ponied (Very fat and very unfit). He was wormed maybe a month ago, is in good health, etc.

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One of my boarder's horses had a very similar situation, and the vet diagnosed mild ulcers.
Yep, colic that occurs just after or while eating a concentrate feed is likely related to gastric ulcers.
^ Hmmm, didn't even think of that. What causes ulcers? Have never had any experience with them.
Many things can cause ulcers. Stress, lots of trailering/shows, sudden change in diet, not moving around enough, too much grain/feed, exercising with an empty stomach, and a poor hay schedule (as in 2 huge feedings of hay instead of small amounts of hay throughout the day) can all cause ulcers. You will want a vet to confirm that he has ulcers via detailed diagnosis or an endoscopy, because you do not want to pay for the only proven medication that treats ulcers as it is quite costly (about $40 per tube for a month at the least, one tube per day) unless it is a confirmed case of ulcers. To keep ulcers from coming back, you will want to use ulcergard (a mild form of gastrogard, the medication that removes ulcers) a few days prior to trailering or another stressful event. Lots of walking everyday is also beneficial. Keep grain and feed to a minimum and try to simulate grazing as much as possible with the hay, as in feeding in small amounts often as opposed to 2-3 large feedings. Grazing is nice, and try to allow him to eat some hay before you exercise him at anything more than the walk. Minimize stress and make any necessary changes gradual. I went through an ulcer bout with my horse late fall, so if you have any more questions I would be happy to answer them!
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Thanks Roro!

Ok - he is out on pasture 24/7 with 4 other horses, a fairly big paddock and enough grass that they are all fat, but it is starting to get eaten down now (second half of summer).

They have a free choice mineral lick and as they are all fat at the moment aren't getting fed anything - I only give him small feeds when we go to competitions and occasionally after a ride (No more than once/twice a week). By small I would say not much more than a double handful of his pellets after a ride and maybe two double handfuls at a comp. At a comp I also give him at least 3/4 biscuits of either grass or soaked lucerne hay a day and graze him as much as possible.

In winter we are planning on putting out free choice round bales of meadow hay.

He is grain intolerant (ties up) so he is on a grain free diet - Previously was just Speedi-Beet and Copra, but he wasn't liking it much (I wonder if that was ulcers, not taste?) so I have switched to Prydes Easi-Sport which has a small amount of molasses and he seems to like better.

He is always straight out of the paddock before I ride so would have grass in his gut.

I dont think my usual vet will be able to scope him as she doesn't have much facility wise - Which is a shame as everyone else charges about 4x what she does. I'll email the local big vet and see what they charge and the procedure for scoping. Is it very involved?
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I agree that it sounds like ulcers. Scoping isn't a very big proceedure, but it can be kind of expensive, just so you're prepared. The horse is sedated, and a scope is passed into the stomach. If your vet has a screen, you'll get to see what they are seeing, which is pretty cool. Treatment for ulcers is also expensive, but they are a very serious condition which must be treated.

Intermittent colic like you're describing can also be due to an enterolith, however the way it comes on with feeding makes me less suspicious of this, unless you just happen to be noticing it when you're feeding and missing other episodes when you're not around? Either way, I'd have him check out for sure. Good luck. There are some other recent threads in here about ulcers to check out.
What is an Enterolith?

My dad works on the property where the horses are so if there was any major colic he woud notice - But small episodes like he has had may go unnoticed. However we have had another big comp since the first episode - two nights away - And he was ok then.

I don't have any qualms about payingfor whatever he needs - I have gone through a lot to make him comfortable and healthy and it ain't gonna stop now! If I don't have all the funds then my parents won't hesisitate to lend me what I need until I can pay them back.
I love LOVE your attitude about your horse's health. Here's a quick read about enteroliths. Enteroliths As A Cause of Colic in the Horse

They aren't all that common, but our arabian stallion (at the school) developed one last summer and his presentation wasn't that different from your guys. Just something to think about...
Thank you. He is such a forgiving horse - And has proved a few peoples opinion of him wrong once we cleared up his issues. How you can NOT notice a saddle that fits so badly he bucked like a bronc and had palm sized white patches is beyond me!

I'm a bit torn as to what to do first - Ask our usual vet her opinion, or go straight to the bigger vet and ask for him to be scoped. I've asked a friend who works at the bigger vet to check out costing etc. for me. I really hate patronising them as they charge so much - but they are the only surgically equipped equine hospital in our city.
The fact that they are surgically equipped is why they are so much more expensive- those toys cost an obscene amount of money. They are also likely much more highly trained and well worth the cost (of course you should always check into a vet's background...). I think recurrent bouts of colic, no matter how mild, is cause for vetting and likely you'll need the fancy toys of the surgical center. But I defer to your vet and her opinion.
Oh I understand that - And it is a valuable servce that is essential here - But it doesn't seem right when the price difference is sometime 3x or 4x. It's just frustrating.

Our vet is fully qualified etc - She is just more of a country type vet. She goes above and beyond and is really in it for the animals. When my little arab had crystals in his urethra she took him to her house and kept him there for a few nights so she could check him more than we could and treat him if needed - As well as about 3 farm visits before that point - And it was only $300. At the other vet it would have been close to $2,000.

I don't have qualms paying what I need to at the other vet when its needed. That same pony had to go there for a biopsy as our vet didn't have the facilities. It just stings the pocket a little more, lol!

So, I should find out today the costing and such of scoping at the big vet from my friend who works there. I'll give them a call and have a chat abotu what has happened and see if they think scoping is the best way forward or if there might be another cause - And go from there.

I do hope it isn't ulcers - If it is they will be hard to manage because I already do most of the things recomended to manage them!
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I hear you on the ulcer management- my guy has them and I try a lot to keep them at bay but any little change and he's on the down slide again. Best of luck, sometimes a round of treatment with omeprazole (gastroguard) works wonders for the long term.
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