Friday, June 15, 2012
Colic is #1 killer of horses. Colic is not a disease.
It is a symptom (abdominal pain) of something else going on in their body. Education is key to knowing how to prevent, how
to recognize and how to respond. Below are my notes from a lecture at Adobe Vet Center on Colic. I am not a vet so dont take
my notes as 100% accurate. Consult with your vet if you have any questions or concerns about your horse.
Types of Colic:
#1 – Dehydration
2 – Impaction (something stuck – food, sand, twine, stone calcification)
3 – Gas
4 - Twists
5 – Ulcerations - Rare
Signs to watch for:
- Loss of appetite
Horses will not eat for 5 reasons
- 1) colic
- 2) fever
- 3) teeth/mouth issues
- 4) VERY sick
- 5) bad/contaminated foo
- Looking, kicking, biting at belly
- Abnormal pawing at ground
getting up and down or attempting to lay down
of bowel movements
- Rapid breathing / flared nostrils
- High pulse rate (> 60/min)
What to do:
- #1 –
Call vet (don’t hesitate – start communicating that there might be a problem))
- 2 – Remove food (leave water)
- 3 – watch horse / observe behavior
- 4 – Allow rest (or can walk,
but not necessary)
- DO NOT:
- No tube into stomach
liquids into mouth
- Nothing into rectum (no
fluids or oil)
- No medication, especially
Bute, until consult with Vet
What you should
know or have ready for Vet:
1 – Rectal Temp (normal
98/99 in winter and 100/101 in summer)
2 – Pulse/Heart
Rate (Normal 40-50 beats/min)
3 – Respiratory
4 – Color and moister of gums
5 - Capillary refill time (1-2 seconds is normal)
6 – Dehydrated – (pinch cheek test)
7 – Last bowel movement
– Any digestive sounds
9 – Recent changes in diet,
10 – Medical history
Treatment - if diagnosed as a Colic
1 – Pain Reliever (banamine, but cannot be given if Bute was given!!)
2 – Fluid Therapy
4 – Sedatives (to relax
5 - Surgery – WORSE CASE ONLY
Every horse owner should decide today what you
would do for each horse you own should they colic and need surgery. That decision should be written down and shared with family
or neighbors or anyone caring for horses in your absence. If the colic is so bad that surgery is required, there is no time
to think thru that kind of decision in the moment. Surgery will cost a minimum of $10,000. If you have insurance that will
cover colic surgery then the decision is simple, but it must be known by all who care for your horse. If no insurance then
you should really think about what you would want to do if the situation arose. Colic can come on fast and with no advance
- So here are some tips that could prevent
a horse getting some kind of Colic.
1 – Horse should be on a psyllium program. Easy ideal plan is to feed psyllium for the first 7 days
of each month. If your horse is not currently on a psyllium program then to start, feed psyllium every other day for a month
and then go to just the first 7 days of the month for every month thereafter. Vets say that they never see sand colic in a
horse that is on a psyllium program.
2 – Feeding
roughage (hay) is good. Chewing releases enzymes that help the digestive track. (feeding grains is bad)
3 – Feeding straight Bermuda is better. Alfalfa creates more gas and contains
more minerals that can contribute to calcification of foreign objects in the intestine.
4 – Feeding multiple times a day can decrease risk of colic (3 is ideal)
5 – Avoid feeding on gravel or sand, if possible. (Not as much of a concern
if psyllium program in place)
6 – Establish parasite
control (worming program and fly control) Solitude and SimplyFly are safe feed thru products for fly control.
7 – Regular dental care – check once a year
(so food can be chewed completely)
8 – Ideal
to have a set routines for feeding, exercise and environment. If feed needs to be changed, do it GRADUALLY.
9 – Plenty of clean fresh water – avoid dehydration.
Since Dehydration is the #1 type of colic, here are some tips to help keep a horse hydrated:
1) If watering from a tub, dump and clean once a week
2) During monsoons horses drink less water. To increase water intake, add regular table salt to their
feed (2-4 tablespoons) right before a storm
3) Another option before a storm
is to feed bran mash, water (or electrolytes) with 2 tablespoons of salt per pound of bran
4) To force horse to drink water try this…….Warm water with molasses (most horse will drink it dry, some
5) For long trail rides, pack some watermelon for your horse (no rinds). Can keep them hydrated
when there is no water on the trail. When back from the trail ride, add a couple of tablespoon of salt to their feed, so they
will drink more water.
February 15, 2012Fat Horses.......Healthy
Adobe Vet Center did a lecture on Equine Metabolic Syndrome - known now as EMS. The statement that made
the biggest impact to me was this....."When you see a very thin horse in need of rescue we gasp in fear, thinking that
horse is very sick. When we see a fat horse we say "Wow that's a healthy good looking horse".” What they are
saying is that can be far from the truth. The thin horse is much healthier then the fat horse. All the thin horse needs is
food. The fat horse is a laminitis/founder waiting to happen. Body condition and neck scoring are used to help us gauge the
perfect weight. Follow the link below to Adobe Vet website and then click on the orange “Blog” icon for
more details about this syndrome and what you can do to protect your horse.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011Horses
Interesting lecture at Adobe Vet Center on horse optomology. The only real emergency to watch for, is that
if the horse is squinting then they probably scratched their eye and should get treatment asap. So watch for squinting. Some
fun stuff they told us was that a horse can practically see 360 degrees around their body while looking forward. There is
only a small area – just right behind their tail – that a horse cannot see without moving their head. So the big
question has always been….Do horses see in color?” The answer is that they do!! However, they don’t see
as many or the same colors we do. Humans see colors that can be produced from blue, green and red (three types of cones).
It is believed that horses only see colors produced by blue and green (only two cones). Another interesting fact is that horses
can see very good in the dark. They have a lot more rods in their retinas then humans. Rods help capture light. A little off
horse topic, but dogs see worse than horses and cats see worse than dogs. When it comes to seeing clear details at distance
of 20 feet or more a cat is practically blind....Interesting, always thought cats had great eye sight.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011Some great Bumper Sticker sayings.......
If you think I'm high maintenance you haven't met my horse.
whisper.........but my horse doesn't listen.
Golf Course: Just a waste of a
Driver Carries NO CASH!! All spent on horses!!
Sunday, October 23, 2011What should we be feeding our horses?
I recently attended a lecture
given by Dr. Page at Adobe Vet Center. The main thing I took away was "keep it simple". Mature horses need to eat
2-2.5% of their body weight per day with half of that being roughage. A good way to know how much to feed is to get a weight
tape. Taping your horses a couple of times a month is a good way to see if they are loosing weight or gaining weight and adjust
their feed according. A fat horse is one of the main causes of laminitis/founder. Get a cheap fisherman's scale (Walmart has
them) to gauge how much a flake of hay or bucket of pellets weigh. For a horse that you ride one to three times a week bermuda
is the best "simple" option. Whether it is grass hay or a concentrated bermuda pellet, if it comes from the southwest,
the quality is probably sufficient for the casually ridden horse. Feeding straight alfalfa or bag feeds with high protein
and calcium can lead to some serious horse ailments like colic and laminitis/founder (especially in foals). When buying bermuda,
the 2nd or 3rd cutting is the best. It is also best to make sure the hay hasn't been sitting around in storage for more than
1 year. The larger the stem (more fiber) the lower the protein. Seeing flowers in the hay means it was cut too late and the
quality will be lower. Even-though the main take away from the lecture was "keep it simple", the final word was
every horse is different and what and how you feed them might have to be adjusted accordingly. If in doubt, contact your vet
and a horse nutritionist. See the link page to a friend of ours that really knows horse nutrition.