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Discussion Starter #1
To begin, this is not my horse. I have permission from the owner (a good friend whom I'm currently staying with) to post about her horse. Multiple vets have been involved, thousands upon thousands of dollars have been spent. It has come to the point where she's considered just donating him to a vet school to euthanize and examine.

The biggest issue, which may just be a symptom of something else, is repeat colicking. Now, some backstory and other information.

Horse in question is a 9 year old quarter horse. She got him as a 2 year old. Until this last year he had never colicked.

He is a cribber. A nearly nonstop-constant cribber. His condition hasn't been great since these issues started. You can see his ribs, he lost his topline and is in general somewhat boney. He was put on and taken off of a multitude of feeds and supplements to see if it would help him gain weight or if a certain feed was potentially causing the colic but no changes on either front.

He isn't losing any more weight, he's just not gaining any back either. He is currently on no feeds/grains of any kind, just grass and hay.

He was gelded as a 4 year old. When he was about 5-6 he randomly lost a decent amount of weight and overall condition and the underside of his neck seemed to have a bunch of edema. He gained the weight back, the weird edema along the underside of his neck stayed and has been there ever since. No vets have ever said anything concerning it. It is loose and jiggly, the entire underside of his neck is from throat latch to chest. No one else seems to think this is odd or in any way relevant, but I do so I figured I'd mention it. It also makes it rather hard to find a vein in his neck.

Fast forward to last year. My friend traded him to a friend of hers for a mare. Again, he had never colicked before. He went from an 11 acre pasture to a half acre paddock. This lady had him for roughly 3 months. During that time he colicked 3-4 times. One was severe and I'm told involved his intestines actually twisting, but it was able to be righted without a surgery. The lady had several different vets out, not just for the colics but to try and figure out a cause as well. Vets were inconclusive, said he was just going to keep colicking. He lost his weight and condition during this time. After several thousand dollars in vet bills the new owner concluded she didn't want to put any more money into him and gave him back to my friend.

My friend got him back roughly around October. He didn't lose more weight but didn't gain either. He did not colic again until december. He colicked twice in december, at least once in January I believe (I've been staying here since december), two or three times in february and once in march. All were relatively minor to varying degrees. One required an emergency vet visit, the rest sorted themselves out with a little hand walking.

During this time, NO changes had been made to feed that might cause him to colic. As well, there are 4 other horses on the same pasture with him and eating the same hay, one of which is my own gelding. No other horses have had any similar symptoms or colic issues.

All the vets seem to have just concluded he's just going to keep colicking. He's also been wormed several times with different wormers and had his teeth checked. Still no weight gain. His exercise amounts have varied throughout these last few months but less exercise or more, nothing seems to change whether he colics or not or how badly he does.

My friend (owner) is currently treating him for ulcers in case that might be an issue, as was suggested to her by someone else, but so far there is no difference.

Another thing: all the other horses are shed out or almost entirely shed out, this gelding is not. He's not a wooly mammoth by any means, but he has much more of a thicker coat than the others and it is curly on his neck and face. Curly/swirly/wavy, if you get what I mean. Is this a symptom of cushings? I don't really know much/anything of cushings, I just remember hearing something like that.

Anyway, if anyone has any ideas/theories etc as to what might be causing his issues or if they're all a symptom of something bigger? Fire away.

And again: Not my horse! Vets HAVE been involved! Just looking for further ideas as to what might be going on, things to try, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Also to add, all colics since he's been back have been gas colic. I think the ones with the other owner were gas colic as well.
 

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It seems like a cop-out for vets to say he'll keep colicking without giving a reason as to why, as in diagnosis.

If he's had ultrasounds, endoscopies, labs, poked & prodded with no results possibly Cushings should be looked at. The easiest thing to do is try Pergolide & see if things change for the better. Analyzing a stool specimen is often overlooked & can be quite telling.
 

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I believe cribbers gulp air while they are cribbing. This could result in the gas colic. Have you or your friend tried a good cribbing collar? Also, if this horse went from acreage with grass to a paddock, is it possible that he could have injested some sand? That could contribute to colic also. As can an enterolith. Kind of like an oyster that can develop in the horses gut. It forms around debris, like sand or a pebble. My friends old arab mare had constant colic issues. My friend took her to New Bolten center and had colic surgery done on her. They pulled an enterolith out of her intestines the size of a foot ball. They said that some Arabs are prone to enteroliths so I am not sure that any other breeds are also. She also fed alfalfa which the vet said contains high amounts of calcium and other minerals which would contribute to the enteroliths formation. She discontinued feeding the alfalfa and the mare never had another form.

I don't know what to say about the edema. Maybe it's a lymphatic issue?

As for the curly hair..I had a mare with Cushings. She had very long (2-2 1/2 inches) hair that was wavy. I had to body clip her all summer long. It never shed out.

I hope that you and your friend can find a solution to the horse's problems. Good Luck!
 

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Oh, just one more thing. In case you didn't already know, cribbing is an addictive behavior. It gives them a kind of high. It wil be nearly impossible to break this horse of this behavior. If your friend keeps this horse and it doesn't already wear one, I would definately get him a cribbing collar. He might be so busy cribbing that he's not bothering with eating. Kind of like a drug addict.
 

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I know a horse who had colics all the time due to ulcers. He is gaining weight and not colicing since they started ulcer treatment.

Cribbing is from stress/boredom. can he do it in the paddock too?

Also interested to know what procedures the vets did.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Kind of answering/asking questions in a random order here but here you go:

He's always done the cribbing so it's not new, and she's tried just about every cribbing collar there is and muzzles as well. He currently wears a leather cribbing collar, not sure what type. No collars detour him or slow him down even a little bit. He'll even crib on metal things if there's no wooden posts around.

Since he's been back in my friend's ownership he's back on the 11 acres rather than in the small paddock. For the cribbing being related to weight loss, he's always cribbed this much and the weight loss is new so I don't think that would be it.

What is Buscopan? We always have banamine, some other injection the vet gave us for him (my friend said it was some sort of muscle relaxant? I'm not sure what it is really) and mineral oil on hand.

I'm not sure what all tests had been done by the previous owner but I can try and find out, I'm pretty positive she'd had him poked and prodded with about everything there is, lol.

The hay he's been on since she's had him back here is brome.

So far he hasn't colicked this month - knock on wood - and she just started the ulcer treatment a few days ago I believe so maybe that will help, but do ulcers/can they cause colic?
 

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Man, it's a shame that a collar won't help. He sounds like a die-hard cribber. Seen those before! I'm surprised that he hadn't suffered from gas colic before your friend gave him to the other woman. Is he just a chewer (some people refer to this as cribbing) or does he/can you hear him gulp air?

As for the ulcer question, I don't know if they can cause colic but I would imagine that the horse would have severe belly pain. Just like people. Maybe someone else on here can answer that question for you.
 

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Most likely the ulcer treatment may help his cribbing. I would treat him for hind gut ulcers also. If his protein and albumin were low that is a good indication of HGU.
 

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Buscopan Injectable Solution for Animal Use - Drugs.com

I give it by mouth per vet's OK. It's fast even given orally. Within 20 minutes you see relief but another dose can be given if needed. It basically stops gut spasms for a very short time then the bowel should go back to normal function including passing lots of gas.

BUT... you have to be really sure it's gas colic & not something else, that's where owner assessment skills are essential.

I used to buy individual doses to keep on hand but since buying a full bottle I've not needed it, not that I'm complaining.
 

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Not an easy decision but euthanasia may be best. Colic is very painful, we've all heard babies scream from it. I commend the gal for wanting to resolve this but it seems to be a go nowhere situation.
 

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Deworm for tapes, treat stomach ulcers AND hindgut ulcers and give a good, balanced mineral/vitamin supplement and extra loose salt. If coat doesn't improve with that, I'd test him for Cushings
 

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I wish I could chime in with some good advice... I've been where your friend is at. My now 10 year old gelding is a chronic colicker and has been over the course of 4 years. He colickes usually 2-3 times a year, with last year being is worst averaging once a month from december 2013 through mid summer 2014. There was once it happened twice in a matter of two weeks. He started in the fall we that we got him as a 4 1/2 year old....previous owner said he never had a history.

Vet after vet we have never been able to find a diagnosis, but rather "Well....try X this time"...only to have him colic a matter of months later. He's has gas colics, impactions, guts flipped over his spleen, other displacements, near half a dozen clinic stays with probably near $15,000 + in hospital bills alone. We've been within hours of surgery more than once. Not to mention the "piddly" emergency house calls.

We treated for ulcers (though never found any), changed his feed more than once by eliminating various things and adding probiotics...ultrasounds, scopes...you name it, he's had it done. Nothing was ever found.

However, over the years I think we've finally figured out his formula since we've been colic free for nearly a year! He is on a low sugar diet, probiotics, and a slow feeder with constant hay, and regular exercise. We'll be taking him off the spring grass soon and keeping him strictly on the slow feeder hay to see if we can get him through the spring without a colic (something that we've never been able to do).

Anyways...I guess that was an anecdotal story more so than anything. Maybe it will prompt some idea for you though. I always like to chime in on stories like this to tell people that they aren't alone!! I think with undiagnosable horses (yes, I truly believe that is a 'thing') it's almost a matter of trial and error to find the right formula that keeps them on their feet. It sounds to me as though your friend's horse may have some undiagnosed underlying issues that may be contributing too though. I do wish her all the best - repeat colickers are unbelievably stressful!!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I think the Buscopan might actually be the other injection the vet has her keep on hand, she just didn't remember the name of it last time I asked. I know she told me it was some sort of like 'relaxant' to help calm the spasms or something of the like? It does seem to help. It's been gas colic every time so far (with the one displacement with the other owner that was resolved) and we get him up, hand walk him, banamine, the other injection and try to get any mineral oil we can in his mouth. If he seems worse than the norm or it doesn't improve pretty quick it's a vet call.

And yep, he's a full on cribber, air gulp and everything. He's not limited to wood either, he's been on camping/trail trips before and he'll crib on the trailer even.

What different medication do you need to treat for hindgut vs normal ulcers? As well, I know there are various things to 'soothe' regular ulcers, is there anything like that for hindgut ones? I think she currently also has him on like a papaya vitamin that started last week, someone told her that might help some with his digestion, and I've heard aloe vera juice can help the ulcer pain as well? (Any other options out there as well for these?)

I'm probably forgetting something else too but oh well. She's had him on/currently has him on probios as well.

At this point she's basically given him until the end of the summer, trying pretty much anything she can that might potentially help, but if it's not sorted out he'll most likely end up being donated to the vet school to be put down and checked out. I understand there's only so much money you can put into something before you reach your limit, and she competes and he's her only non-competition horse. He had a leg injury as a 5 year old and will never be sound enough for hard or competitive work.
 

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If the horse is predisposed to colic (he is) and colic is generally due to the environment in which the horse lives (housing/feed/friends/space), no change in the environment means he will very likely keep colicking.

Colic in wild horses is virtually non-existent. It's us humans who have taken them from their true environment and put them in ours.

And, there is a clear connection between the overfeeding of pelleted feeds to yearlings and cribbing as adults. It happens a lot in the QH world and TB world as the horses are started quite early. Not sure if that happened to this horse but, wanted to mention it.

Can he be out 24/7? (sorry if you already mentioned where he lived - I didn't see it).
Does he crib outside and in?

I had a bad cribber who didn't care if she had a cribbing collar on....she would just keep on cribbing. But we stopped it:

Can you get the horse outside 24/7 and have an electric line around the paddock fence? He can't crib if he doesn't have anything to crib on. Put his water in a soft rubber bucket (can't get a grip to crib), put the hay on the ground (no feeder to crib on) and have him test out the electric fence a couple of times. He will stop testing it after a couple of zaps.

My mare had already learned to crib (like other vices, it starts as a stress release habit due to environment and if left, turns into a learned behaviour....then you can't get them to stop) but, the electric fence/nothing to crib on stopped her.
She then started to gain weight because she wasn't spending all her time cribbing.
When I say we stopped it - I mean we stopped her from doing it but did not cure it - she was too far gone. When at a show, as soon as she moved into a stall, she would crib alllllllllll day.
And once home - out in the electrified paddock again.

BTW - brewers yeast (fairly cheap at the Bulk Barn) can help reduce the acid in the hindgut. Two good heaping tablespoons a day. Cheap and cheerful.
 

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Seems to be a very expensive horse!

What do any bloods say?

Many moons ago I was given a lovely three year old racehorse. He colicked a lot, (learned something from that, if he was put in the horsebox and taken for a bumpy ride, it cleared!) he did not crib at all. We could keep no weight on him and this was in days before the knowledge of ulcers was known.
Bloods showed he had some blood disorder to do with his red blood cells. We tried many treatments to no avail and after a year he was euthanised.

Has this horse had a blood test?

From his coat issue it does sound like he might have Cushings, not shedding and a curly coat can be an indication.
 

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That is a lot of story condensed into a short space which means that there is not enough detail to give a good picture.

For instance you say there was "no change in diet that should have caused colic" but does that mean that there were changes in diet? And how do you know that any change was not enough to cause colic? What diet is/has he been on? What diagnostics have been done? He has been dewormed many times and with different drugs, but how did those dewormings relate to when colics occurred? Were they before or after colics and if so how long? What is the overall deworming program for the horse?

A very detailed review of medical history, medical findings, diet history, etc would need to be done to really offer much help in sorting out the issue other than to make very general recommendations about diet and management.

Truthfully, there are horses who have things going on that just can't be diagnosed until a necropsy is performed because we just can't visualize everything inside a horse. There are horses that have more nerves and more sensitivity in the GI tract. Cancer can be present. Genetic issues can lead to malfunction of the GI tract. There are really so many possible causes besides just the common causes of colic.
 
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