Horse Riding



How To Recognise Horse Colic

Everyone's heard of colic but not many horseowners really understand it unless it's happened to them before. Colic is one of the most dreaded horse illnesses, it can be hard to pinpoint a cause and can happen at any time and be fatal.

Colic a Basic Description

Colic is the general term for a horse stomach ache. Horses digestive systems are built very differently to ours, one major difference being that they cannot throw up.

This basically means that they are more likely to suffer digestive problems, whatever goes in only has one way out.

Herbivores also are designed to eat less, however a lot more often.

Horses are designed to graze almost continually just to get the nutrients they need.

Horses Grazing

Keeping horses disrupts this process.
Bored Horse

Particularly in stabled horses or horses with no access to grazing. We also supplement our horses diet with grains and chaff, which, if not done carefully can seriously upset our horse's digestive system.

Also, it is said that the digestive systems of foals, miniature horses and smaller ponies are more likely to have digestive problems than larger horses, simply because they're smaller. In comparison to our's, however, the horse's digestive system is relatively long and moves freely.

It is possible for the gut to tangle itself, causing serious complications. Colic can be caused or brought on by many, many factors, some can include the following.

Sudden Change in Diet


Water Deprivation

Feeding Straight After Exercise

Anything Un-natural Ingested

Erratic Management

Equine Colic

How To Recognise Colic

Colic is failrly easy to diagnose, the symptoms are usually obvious, especially if the horse is quite uncomfortable.

Some horses may suffer silently, but others will cause a lot of fuss. Typically, horses act like we do, we aren't so different from them, and if you know your horse well, you have a good chance of being able to tell what's wrong. They act similar to a human with a stomach ache, the horse way. Common symptoms can include.


Rolling Violently

Lack of Appetite

Kicking at the Belly

Elevated Pulse Rate

No Digestive Sounds

Sweating Excessively

Pawing at the Ground

Turning of the Head to the Belly

Lip Curling (Flehmen Response)

Repeatedly Lying Down and Standing Up

Straining to Pass Manure, Without Passing Any

Usually, as an owner, if there is a cause in relation to management of your horse, it's likely you may be able to figure out what brought on the attack. Once you're aware of the problem, it will make it easier to take preventative measures.

Sometimes, colic seems to be almost impossible to find the problem, let alone the cause. There are, however some management changes that can be made to prevent colic and the flow of cash into the vet's bank account. !

If Your Horse Has Colic

The first step is to stay calm, if you think your horse has colic, it's important to make sure you're right first.

Some horses can give out confusing signs, and if your horse is just pawing the ground, don't panic. It is important to wait for a definite sign before you take any action, but at the same time, don't wait until it's too late. If it's up to you in the end to call the vet or not to call the vet, if you're not sure then CALL THE VET just in case. It's better to foot a bill rather than lose a horse.

It's also possible for colic to pass by itself, depending on the severity of colic, but your vet is likely to be able to make your horse more comfortable while the colic passes, and even speed up the process greatly.

After you call the vet, make sure your horse is as comfortable as you can make him or her. Don't let him roll, but he can lie down. Walking hasn't been proven to help a horse greatly, but some horseowners swear by it. There are a few checks you can do on your horse yourself. Check his or her respiration and pulse rates. If possible, you can take your horse's temperature. Check for elevation in the vital signs. Check the colour of the gums to get an idea of circulation. Be ready to tell the vet about these signs.

Monitor your horse's condition, and make regular checks. If you absolutely can't stay with your horse, make sure someone does. Check for digestive noises, horses have loud gut noises normally, the more action, the better. You can usually hear movement if there is movement, but be careful when you're checking. Horses who are trying to roll aren't the easiest to control. !. Keep the horse calm, and make sure he knows you're there. Soothe him with your voice, and tell the vet anything and everything you can think of which may have brought it on.

Don't give the horse anything until your vet arrives to access the situation, and always follow the advice of your vet.

Horse Colic

Prevention Although prevention is not always possible, (some horses are prone to colic attacks) there are measures that owners can take to make colic less of a risk. All these management changes are easy and quick to make, and will only work if they're stuck to.

Establish a Daily Routine

Make a point of feeding and exercising your horse at the same time each day. A routine will not only help prevent colic, but it'll make everything more organised around the stable.

Feed Lots of Roughage Roughage ensures that your horse's digestive system works constantly, as it's supposed to. A lot of grain at one time will only cause upsets. Feed little and often for best results.

Keep Medical Treatments Regular Make sure your horse is wormed on time, every time. Drenching is also important, as well as other routine checkups, like dental check-ups.

Horse Dental Check-Ups

Provide Turnout Not only does it allow your horse access to grazing, but it allows your horse to exercise itself, and keep itself happy.

Provide Fresh Water Horses require fresh, cool, clean water at all times, although NOT just after exercise.

Check for Un-Natural Substances Weeds and un-natural substances can really upset your horses digestive system. Some plants and weeds are toxic to horses ,and some horses are intolerant to certain feeds.

Avoid Feeding From Bad Surfaces One cause of colic is the ingestion of too much sand. Buckets are made for a reason.!

Make Changes Gradually A very slow change to diet and workload will be much more well received than a sudden change.

Reduce Stress A happy horse is a healthy horse !.

If you have to transport your horse, or keep him away from his friends, make allowances to make him more comfortable whenever you can.

Keep Records and Watch Records make noticing problems easier. Watching horses that are prone to colic may be a life saver, and watching horses in new situations and those undergoing changes might detect problems early.

Horse Colic

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