Colic

Horse colic (or Equine Colic), really means ‘gut’ pain. More accurately this means pain anywhere in the horse's abdomen (the body area found behind the chest, before the hind legs and underneath the back).

Horses get a lot of Colic but mostly it is not serious and individuals recover quickly. Colic is feared in horses because mild signs can occasionally become very painful and dangerous. When dangerous, Colic can kill a horse quite quickly and surgery may be needed.

Why do horses get so much colic? Two of the chief reasons can be:

The damage that round worms in horses can do in blocking blood supply to the guts.
The way, unlike other animals, that much of the horse’s digestion takes place as fermentation in the hindgut.
Tell tale signs of Mild Colic:

Off food, fewer droppings, lethargy and stomach pain seen as kicking at the belly, looking round at the flanks and pawing the ground.

Serious signs of Horse Colic: lying down or rolling, shallow breathing, sweating, spasm of severe pain with groaning and rolling. Swelling of the abdomen.

What to do:

If your horse shows anything more than mild colic for a few minutes it is best to call your local vet. If you can get advice by phone from the clinic before the vet arrives, follow this advice.

If you cannot get any advice by phone:

Stay calm yourself, keep onlookers away and keep the horse in a stable with plenty of bedding.
2. If the horse is lying down do not disturb it but remove things in the stable which it might damage itself on if it starts to roll.
3. A little walking outside may prevent a horse from rolling.
 4. If a horse does start rolling violently, to stop it becoming cast, it may be best to move it to a more open area such as a safe field without ditches and fences.

SOME DO NOTS: 1. Do not give colic drenches as these might go down the wrong way.

                                 2. Do not offer food.

Some causes of Colic:
1. Gorging on food (e.g. unsoaked sugar beet)
2. Gas build up e.g. from eating grass cuttings.
3. Worm damage
4. Sudden changes in feeding or irregular feeding
 5. Stress
 6. Twisted guts from gas build up and subsequent rolling
 7. Constipation caused by e.g. worms, bad teeth, poor feeding, sand build up etc.
 8. Fatty growths that strangulate intestines.

Preventing Horse Colic:

Ensure a good worming program
Use only good quality food
Do not make a horse work directly after feeding
Watch out for tell tale signs of colic
If prone to constipation consider with your vet using Psyllium husks regularly in the feed.
Free veterinary advice helpline: 01243 773363 (UK

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The Equine

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