View Full Version : Chroinic "Colicy" Horse

Dec. 19, 2009, 10:35 AM
I've had my horse for a year in a half. He is a 5 yr old OTTB and had totally normal eating habits till this summer when he had surgery (different issue) and was confined to stall rest, hand walking some. Luckily the owner of my barn is my vet and would catch him acting colicy about once a week. Just was we were getting to the point where we could turn him out he coliced big time.

He had surgery and then a skin infection (different area of the body). This time we moved him to a bigger stall in a more busy part of the barn. He has been fine for 3 months till last night, he had another colicy episode, nothing too serious that my vet/barn owner couldn't handle.

I live in a cold snowy state with limited turnout where I board, but I love that my vet is always there!!! Im looking for similar situations and/or problem solving ideas, please help!

Right now he is feed strategy, half day turnout by himself (he is VERY wild and aggressive/playful), beginning to be put back to work about 3 days a week.

Again PLEASE help!

Dec. 19, 2009, 10:45 AM
I would do an ulcer treatment, get him scoped. My horse had about a 6 month period where she coliced 4 times. She got ulcergard for a month and has not coliced since and it has been over a year. I do make sure to ulcergard her when we travel. I know several people at my barn have had luck with Ulcer Shield. All the stress from the surgeries could have caused him to develope ulcers, so I would check that out.

Dec. 19, 2009, 11:02 AM
I would do an ulcer treatment, get him scoped. My horse had about a 6 month period where she coliced 4 times. She got ulcergard for a month and has not coliced since and it has been over a year. I do make sure to ulcergard her when we travel. I know several people at my barn have had luck with Ulcer Shield. All the stress from the surgeries could have caused him to develope ulcers, so I would check that out.

Ditto this and will add, I can't believe your BO / Vet did not recommend ulcergard. I wouldn't even bother with scoping since a lot of ulcer don't show up on scoping. Just save the money and put it into ulcergard.

Entirleypets.com has ulcergard for 29.99.

Dec. 19, 2009, 11:08 AM
Just something to try: wet your horse's regular feed every feeding. If pellets or extruded feed, let them absorb water and then add a bit more. I got this bit of advice from a TB layup barn that had many dozens of horses go through it every year. They told me that they wet the feed for every horse, every feeding and NEVER had a colic. And they never "transitioned" the horse to their regular feed, just switched to the barn standard wet. I'm not sure I have the guts to do that, but we do wet regular feed whenever weather changes or we have other concerns. Seems to work!

lesson junkie
Dec. 19, 2009, 11:17 AM
DressageCB-I have a 10yo TB mare. I've had her since she was 2, and have known her since she was born. She has had 6 serious colic episodes, all resolved with IV therapy, thank goodness. Her colics are always water intake related-she just doesn't drink like she should, especially when it's cold.

Here's what I do-she lives out, 24/7. Her water tank is always clean and full. She is fed small amounts of pelleted concentrate, with enough water to make it pea soup consistancy and soaked alfalfa cubes. She gets the highest quality hay I can buy. In cold weather, it's soaked to dripping. She is de-wormed every 4 weeks. She's stayed lucky for the last 3 years now-knock on wood.

I hunt this mare twice a week, and she's ridden hard 2 other days so she will stay under me in the field-she's very fit!

I've never considered ulcers-I will ask my vet if that needs to be explored-good luck with your guy.

Dec. 19, 2009, 01:00 PM
When we think of ulcers, we always think of stomach ulcers, but horses also get ulcers in the large colon. This can be the result of NSAID toxicity. A recent study for the USEF concluded that each horse has a different tolerance to bute (in particular), and that even reasonable doses could induce it in a matter of days.
These ulcers are not treated by either gastrogard, or the antacids like Ugard.
My own experience with this recurring colic situation (even after removing the NSAID) resulted in my horse now living on pelleted alfalfa (Lakin Estrella), and being dosed with the drug sucralfate (7 tabs bid at home and 7 tabs tid on the road). Since June, the only time we have had a colic episode was when we attempted to take him off the sucralfate.
Had we not found this treatment program (thank you Dr Miller and Dr Voss), I am convinced that he would be dead. Instead, he is competing at prelim.
The whole story is more complex than I am relating here - do an internet search on the sucralfate, and on Right Dorsal Colon Colitis for more information.
Good luck!
Tom Angle

Dec. 19, 2009, 01:56 PM
Here is an interesting link:

Dec. 19, 2009, 03:20 PM
When you hear hoofbeats think horses not zebras remember? A month's worth of gastroguard is the place to start and if that doesn't work you can start thinking about RDC and any countless other possible causes.

Dec. 19, 2009, 03:22 PM
I forgot to mention in my original note we've done the whole ulcergard thing after his first surgery and then after the second we scooped him to see if that was the cause of his little colics. He had only one ulcer that the vet scooping him said could not have caused even a tummy ache. After that we still did the ulcergard treatment anyway just to be safe.

Thank you all for posting, TLA you have been the most helpful!

Dec. 19, 2009, 03:31 PM

Made a huge difference with a friends horse.

I feed Fastrack to my horses but my friend feed the probiotics from smartpak.

You could also try soaking his hay. Get more fluid into him. Good luck!

Dec. 19, 2009, 04:49 PM
Just wanted to share my chronic colic story.

I bought this horse as a 3 year old, and he was fed regular feed 2x day, and coastal hay free choice, and pasture grass. Regular worming schedule (every 6 weeks), and 14 hours a day turnout. About 6 months after I got him, he had a mild colic episode, vet was called, banamine given, cleared up in about an hour. Lots of loud gut sounds, loose small piles of manure, thought maybe gas or something.

These episodes continued (sometimes several times a month, sometimes less frequently, no set pattern), so the vet and I thought maybe ulcers or just excess stomach acid, put him on ranitidine - this seemed to help, but he would still colic from time to time. Each of the episodes were the same, and would resolve with banamine dosed orally. This went on for 2 years.

Until last year. He coliced and the banamine did not work, vet was called, he was tubed, mineral oiled, the whole works, and none of the at the farm procedures were helping after 2 hours, so onto the trailer he went for a ride to the clinic at midnight.

He did not improve at the clinic, every time the pain meds wore off, he got bad. Rectal exam showed no impaction there, gut tap was clear. After 2 hours in the clinic with no improvement, we opted for surgery.

Surgery revealed illeal impaction, they did not do a resection, as that reduces the chances of recovery, the vet manually moved the impaction, and stitched him back up. The surgeon said that with the proper feed management, he should live a normal long life (barring any other life threatening incidents of course).

I do not think there is any other way to diagnose this condition other than surgery, but I am not an expert, and didn't really ask the vet if there are other ways of diagnosing it, internet research didn't have much information either.

Causes can range from scarring due to tapeworm infestations, and sometimes it is just the way the horse is built when born. Sometimes the thickening can come and go, cause unknown at this time. And of course the only way to know if the walls have thinned would be to go back in surgically. Not an option.

He has only had one colic episode since then, it was the afternoon after he had all his spring vaccinations, and once again banamine perked him right back up, but of course I was a wreck for several days, watching him like a hawk.

ETA - if you google it, you will find some information out there on the internet.

Dec. 19, 2009, 04:55 PM
I should also add, that this horse will be on a no-hay diet for the rest of his life, only complete feed, fed 4-5 times per day, and all the pasture grass he can eat. Hay could cause another impaction of his small intestine due to the ileal hypertrophy. It has been a challenge to find a feed that he likes (I have another post on this topic in the Horse Care forum).

Dec. 19, 2009, 05:29 PM
When I talk of colics, I mean that from Sept 15, 2008 to 15 may, 2009, we had 6 that required a trip to the vet, and all involved the large colon. Then there were the weekly episodes of discomfort dispalyed as stretching as if to pee, and which usually resolved in about 15 minutes.
This horse has not had a normal gut for some time, having 20' of small intestine resected due to an entrapment colic. However, in the 4 1/2 years between the surgury and these episodes, he had only one, which resolved with treatment here at the farm.
In May, he was scoped, and found to be free of stomach ulcers, so we could take him off gastrogard.
We actually used a friend who is a Chiropractor, and the most amazing healer I have ever met, and on his advice, we reformulated much of his diet - the thinking being that all the gastrgard/ugard/etc had gotten his already abnormal gut really out of wack.
Still, the discomforts continued, hence the chat with Dr Jennifer Miller, that started the trip down the road we have taken.
I think that, just as in human medicine, the more we know, the more likely we are to ask the right questions, and get the right information. I am lucky, as I grew up in a medical family, and worked for some time a vet tech. And our horses have an incredible support structure by virtue of all the connection made over 34 years of Eventing.

Dec. 19, 2009, 05:38 PM
My first thought is ulcers. My mare was frequently colicky. We treated her with ulcerguard. My vet did not scope. She had found that lots of her OTTB clients suffered from ulcers. We also put my mare on daily dewormer and Finish Line Total Control which contains a "tummy helper".

Dec. 19, 2009, 07:16 PM
TRACTGUARD! I can not say enough about this product. Made by foxden's. Does great things for the gut!

Dec. 19, 2009, 08:21 PM
Does he crib?

Dec. 20, 2009, 11:33 AM
The cheapest and easiest place to start may be to deworm the horse with moxidectin and praziquantel if this hasn't been done already.

Dec. 20, 2009, 12:32 PM
I may have missed this, but what surgeries did he have?

Dec. 20, 2009, 12:33 PM
Just over a year ago a friend bought an OTTB that coliced, coliced and then coliced again etc... Some mild and one was very severe but she pulled through without surgery. The vet determined that the horse though looking like she was in good condition may have had a substantial worm load. They put her on a lengthy and aggressive worming schedule. At first she would colic after each worming but it cleared up and (knock on wood) she hasn't had a problem since.

Dec. 20, 2009, 01:29 PM
I also was suprised no one brought up ulcers right away. I have a finicky TB but luckily not a colicker. I keep her on papaya (natural ulcer prevention), probiotics and yeast daily.

I think your horse may have gotten problem after surgery because
1) stressful event
2)NSAIDS known to cause GI problems
3)antibiotics will disrupt the naturally "good" bacteria in the hindgut

I would do whatever your vet reccomends (ie gastrogaurd) but I would 100% put her on a probiotic and I've been hearing good things about Equi-shure, its a hindgut buffer to help maintain the right pH. I've been told to put a horse on it for 5-7 days then as needed (ie traveling, surgery).


Dec. 20, 2009, 01:49 PM
I thought ulcers came up pretty fast in the responses??? He has been on the stuff for them and has been scoped-which does not mean there are none elsewhere.

First impression is he is still in recovery mode from that surgery-they don't bounce back that quick sometimes.

I'd turn him out as much as possible-as in leave hin O-U-T. Probiotics may be your new best friend too. ALOT of horses do much better on them then without, especially those prone to mild colic episodes as OP describes.

Strikes me if he has had a skin infection since the surgery? Maybe something systemic still going on. Have you run blood lately?

Dec. 20, 2009, 03:33 PM
Here is another informative link:

Dec. 21, 2009, 03:00 AM
findeight I meant @ her barn with her vet/trainer/barnowner not in posted responses...ulcers came up really fast here! lol