The Horse Forum banner

Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,910 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I've only ever seen a horse colic once and that was my horse back in ...oh...many years ago. It was mild colic, I was younger, and there were other people there taking care of the major "help"..ei walking her around etc. So I've never really seen or dealt with colic myself.

But I've been thinking of colic lately and wondering if there are things you can do to prevent colic. (ei: things to make sure they NEVER colic.) Or is colic just a hit and miss when it comes to horses.

Also, this may be a stupid question, but do horses in the wild colic? Or is it something that happens because we feed grains and such to horses?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
910 Posts
Well im not sure about horses in the wild. But here in Fl we have a lot of sand colic. Which can be prevented. You just have to feed like a sand clear once a month. As for other colics... I dont think there is a way to really prevent them. I mean, stress colic, weather colic, gas colic. I havent heard of any ways to prevent these.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,540 Posts
I'll give this one a stab :D

Colic is not 100% preventable. A horse can twist it's gut by rolling (unlikely, but does happen). But you can reduce the incidence of non-torsion colics by:

-keeping water consumption steady, in the winter this means using tank heaters to warm the water or electrolytes to increase thirst so they want to drink more
-feeding enough hay to keep the GIT moving
-if you live in a sandy area don't feed directly on the ground or use a product like sand clear
-regular de-worming or checking for worms
-decrease or eliminate grain-feeding
-eliminate or reduce stressful living conditions as much as possible

I know I didn't get everything but those are some of the things we went over to reduce the likelihood of having your horse colic. Heck I do all of them and I still had a recent colic!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16,508 Posts
Also, this may be a stupid question, but do horses in the wild colic?
Of course they do. But many of them die, because there's no vet to treat them and no owner to see when a mild colic turns deadly.

Horses colic for a variety of reasons. Some colic when the weather changes suddenly, some colic when their feed is changed, some colic when they're stressed, and some are just prone to it.

There's no particular rhyme or reason with colic. The way a horse's digestive tract is laid out makes them susceptible to gas and impaction colics, as well as intestinal twists.

For such a big animal, they're rather delicate.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,471 Posts
I've only ever seen a horse colic once and that was my horse back in ...oh...many years ago. It was mild colic, I was younger, and there were other people there taking care of the major "help"..ei walking her around etc. So I've never really seen or dealt with colic myself.
Any gastro intestinal upset is classified as colic. Excess gas, mild impaction due to being dehydrated, etc. Most horses can work through on their own.

You've probably noticed it but thought to yourself the horse was just not himself that day as the signs were not the extreme clinical symptoms.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
100 Posts
some good answers above. some colics are preventable, some are not. drinking enough water is the biggie. i feed electrolytes or salt on the feed in summer and winter to ensure they take in enough water.

sand was covered above.

really dry overmature hay, like stemmy grass hay, first cutting that is cut too late. it is harder to digest and can cause impactions.

too much grain, especially fed before adequate hay.

not enough good quality hay.

stress.

weather changes - this is the biggest one. not much you can do except be watchful. colics caught early and treated are often minor. it's the pain that causes that problem. once horses hurt, they tense and stress MORE and make it worse and worse. you have to break the pain cycle early on.

if it's dehydration or impaction, your horse could need IV fluids.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,999 Posts
1. Feed up off the sand.
2. Provide plenty of forage--at least 1.5% of his body weight per day. But free choice forage is even better.
3. Make sure he always has access to clean water.
4. Have his teeth checked and floated as needed.
5. Minimize the amount of grain based feeds given.
6. Ensure that he is on an appropriate deworming program for his location, age and personal resistance to parasites. (And every 6-8 weeks, rotating dewormers in NOT an appropriate deworming program.)

These are the best ways to minimize the risk of colic.

Read more: http://www.horseforum.com/horse-health/colic-prevention-47791/#ixzz0fiOM395p
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,910 Posts
Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
1. Feed up off the sand.
2. Provide plenty of forage--at least 1.5% of his body weight per day. But free choice forage is even better.
3. Make sure he always has access to clean water.
4. Have his teeth checked and floated as needed.
5. Minimize the amount of grain based feeds given.
6. Ensure that he is on an appropriate deworming program for his location, age and personal resistance to parasites. (And every 6-8 weeks, rotating dewormers in NOT an appropriate deworming program.)

These are the best ways to minimize the risk of colic.

Read more: [URL]http://www.horseforum.com/horse-health/colic-prevention-47791/#ixzz0fiOM395p[/URL]
Then can I ask is there any reason that a horse NEEDS grains? I have a coming 2 yr old and a coming yearling and I guess I always have seen and assumed that horses should be fed grains? I give them a mixture of sweet feed (very little..maybe a cup-two cups, alfalfa pellets, oats, beet pulp and flax. (for a complete total of maybe 4 cups.)

Otherwise they get free choice hay and/or pasture.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,613 Posts
Most horses actually do get most if not all of the nutrients they need just from the hay that they eat, I read a great book, about equine nutrition, called Understanding Equine Nutrition, by Karen Briggs. The horses that generally could use a boost from grain, are the growing babies, horses in heavy competiton, and older horses who may not be able to eat hay as easily. I fed my mare the amount of grain I fed her, because I too had been told, and had seen that horses who do much of anything more than sitting in a stall have to have grain, but this book has helped clear up a lot of misunderstandings. You should definately read the book, I think it will really help you understand the horses nutrition needs better.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,179 Posts
Nope! There are tons of alternatives to grains that are much gentler on a horses digestive system, much more natural, and utilized much better by horses.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
100 Posts
that is a very good book.

grain is really only needed to make up for what grasses and hay may lack. and since many pastures are overgrazed, they do lack some things. Hay, if not adequately fertilized, is missing things too. but most of what is needed is minerals and vitamins. so unless a horse is working hard, the "grain" is just a vehicle to get the vitamins and minerals in. it can be done with mineral supplements without grain, or very low carb supplements.

growing horses and pregnant mares are different. they need MORE minerals/vitamins and extra protein. but still need a balanced ration.

so it isn't the grain they really need. unless they work very hard and need energy
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
171 Posts
My horse, Brian was under fed and had heavy parasite loads when I got him 2 years ago. He has gas coliced on me three times. Even though he is a good weight now and has everything he needs to be healthy, lots of hay, warm water, regular wormings, he still coliced just recently. I think that if a horse has been damaged enough through neglect he will always be prone to colic. It is hard to tell what past damage a horse has experienced, and how it will show itself later, unless you know how it was cared for by every past owner. The horses I've had since babies that have always been well cared for have never coliced.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,999 Posts
My horse, Brian was under fed and had heavy parasite loads when I got him 2 years ago. He has gas coliced on me three times. Even though he is a good weight now and has everything he needs to be healthy, lots of hay, warm water, regular wormings, he still coliced just recently. I think that if a horse has been damaged enough through neglect he will always be prone to colic. It is hard to tell what past damage a horse has experienced, and how it will show itself later, unless you know how it was cared for by every past owner. The horses I've had since babies that have always been well cared for have never coliced.
Underfed horses are highly likely to have gastric ulcers and even getting them on a proper diet isn't sufficient to allow ulcers to heal. This is probably one of the most common causes of repeat colics in horses that have been underfed.

That being said, we necropsied a mare that had been bought to get her out of a bad situation and had coliced just days after the new owner got her. She died from the colic and when we opened her up we found a belly full of rocks and asphalt that she had been eating because she was so hungry.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
171 Posts
That is very sad about that mare Ryle. Brian's previous owner was in trouble for keeping four horses in a small dirt pen with dangerous fencing. The brother of this woman told me she had been feeding all four horses 1/2 a square bale a day. Brian was about three hundred pounds underweight when he came to my farm. He is a small horse 14 hands. I very slowly fed him up and introduced him to grass. He coliced on me the first time cause I left him on the grass just a little too long. The second time he coliced when I gave him sand colic treatment. I'm not sure what caused this last colic. I did worm him right before it happened with Quest plus. It was a fast bout maybe a hour of bad pain before he farted several times, pooped and then was obviously more comfortable. It is funny how glorious farting and pooping become when you are crying and walking a colicy horse around! He is only 8 years old and has become my best lesson horse. He is great with kids. I know that in all likelihood colic will be what gets him. I just try my best in the meantime to take good care of him.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,012 Posts
I think I've asked this on here before without much response (that I saw, I could have missed some posts) but, does anyone else's vet recommend psyllium twice a week as a preventative for impactions in older horses? And how much do you give them?

I lost a 26yr old gelding last fall (my very first horse) and although we don't know for sure what caused his colic, my vet recommended feeding psyllium twice a week just as a preventative to keep them from getting impacted.

I wasn't sure what a good dose would be, but I have have been giving them 4 oz each, twice a week.

Any thoughts? We don't live in a sand colic area, this is just for (hopefully) preventing impactions in older horses.

I also use hay feeders, tank heaters, and offer free choice salt at all times. I've still lost two horses to colic. Both were in their mid 20's. :-(
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top