Colic is one of the many horse wonders and is something every horse owner should think about even if their horse has never had a colic episode. Colic can happen and does happen when least expected.
Colic is definitely on the top of the list for health risks to horses, and being prepared to care for a horse that is colicing is essential. There are a multitude of preventative measures to take in order to reduce the risk of colic. Though more times than not, there are underlying reasons for colic, but in times “mystery” colic may occur while horses are away from their owner (boarding/training).
- Parasite Control – a solid parasite control program is too often overlooked by many horse owners and even more barn managers. Working with a veterinarian can be very helpful. Horse owners can always take precaution by keeping equines on a good de-worming program, though it may not do much good if the rest of the barn horses are full of parasites.
There are many good de-wormers out there, but following a de-worming schedule is imperative. If the barn you board at leaves it up to horse owners to de-worm their horses, ask them how they know if the horses are getting de-wormed?
Also, don’t forget to keep track of your de-worming schedule, and getting a fecal test for parasites once a year doesn’t hurt to know how your de-worming program is working.
Dental Care – proper dental intervention is also another colic preventative. A veterinarian should see most horses a minimum of two times per year for vaccinations. During those visits, the horse’s teeth should be checked for sharp points and “floated” by the veterinarian or equine dentist if needed. Do not let horses go more than a year without having their teeth checked by a veterinarian. Sharp teeth can lead to improper eating (or not at all), an proper digestion (along with a steady diet) are essential to colic preventions.
Feeding & Diet – as just mentioned, a good, regular, feeding routine is paramount for horse health and colic prevention. Same time, same feed, everyday. Some horses are incredibly sensitive to having feed times changed, even minimally.
If changing feed, do it gradually. This goes for hay AND grain. If you are feeding your own horse, don’t wait until you run out of hay or grain to make a run to the feed store for more. They could be out of your brand and type of hay. Make sure you have enough “reserve” feed to make a gradual switch if need be.
Cribbing – cribbing or windsucking can cause gas-colic from swallowed air. If you have a cribber or a windsucker, do what you can to eliminate their ability to crib or windsuck. The more the horse does this, the more prone they are to colic.
Sand – Horses who eat of the ground in sandy regions of the world can actually build up sand in their guts, causing impaction. There are plenty of sand-colic prevention supplements to be fed between once a year or even daily. Local vetrinarians are the best sort of sand-colic prevention info.
On sand-colic, there is nothing worse than a horse colicing from something very preventable.
Prevention is the best “cure” for colic.
If a horse undergoes a colic episode, the decision to put a horse through colic surgery can also be difficult. If without horse health insurance or not aren’t participating in a previnticare program, financially, colic surgery may not be viable for the average horse owner. Even if finances aren’t a question, colic surgery and recovery can be absolutely miserable for the horse.
Regardless, colic prevention should be top of mind for all equine owners. If new to horses and still not understanding what horse colic is, PLEASE READ UP!