One of my horses has had two mild bouts of colic recently, one last weekend and one this past weekend. Both resolved themselves with hand walking. The first bout was so mild I didn't really recognize it as colic. Horse was laying down a lot, I'd get him up, he'd stand for a while then lay down again. He wasn't rolling or biting or kicking at his stomach, gut sounds were good, gums pink and refilling quickly. He's kind of low on the totem pole and had some marks around his head and chest so I thought he'd either gotten kicked or gotten his head stuck in the hay feeder. He'd also lost some weight. So I brought him up and put him in the paddock with the older horses. He was doing fine until this weekend when the symptoms returned. This time they were slightly more severe but did resolve.
I am currently feeding him beet pulp shreds, senior pellets and chopped alfalfa hay all soaked in about 2 gallons of water. I've also added vegetable oil to his feed. I'm going to get a round bale of grass hay for the geriatric pen too. I'm getting some banamine from the vet to have on hand if the symptoms start again. Anything else I can do? Should I go ahead and worm him or wait a while to see how he does? What should I worm him with?
Horse is a small grade QH gelding approximately 12-15 years old. He's on turnout 24/7 with 2 older QH geldings and an ancient pony mare. All of them get along, nobody's agressive beyond a pinning of the ears if somebody gets too close to somebody else's food pan. There isn't much grass in the paddock but ancient horses' teeth aren't great so they don't graze much anyway and I'm getting a round bale for them to snack on. Sand shouldn't be a problem as we have a clay soil. The colics seem to coincide with changes in the weather. We've been going from warm and muggy to a cold snap (lows in the high 20's, highs in the 50's). That seems to trigger the colics.
Any suggestions to help prevent this would be appreciated.
The more water you can get into him, the better. Patrick colicked in October... the theory is that he stopped drinking as much when it cooled off, and I know he was eating oak leaves and acorns. A recipe for impaction.
So... (after raking the leaves and acorns, which are thankfully done falling now,) he gets a few gallons of warm water 'flavored' with senior feed so he'll drink it, multiple times a day.
Of course now I need to buy a new bucket holder -- he learned to swing the bucket to slosh out the water so he can get at the good stuff in the bottom.
Given your location, grass hay is likely to mean bermuda. If he doesn't eat that normally, be careful introducing it. Some horses can't tolerate it.
I've been adding salt to his feed also. They have a salt block and I've seen him licking it. The four horses in the paddock have a common water trough that is cleaned and filled regularly. I'm hoping that putting him in the "nursing home" paddock where he has less competition for feed and nobody bullying him will help him some.
I have the following paddocks: Nursing home, where ancient horses and pony get extra TLC. Weight Watchers, for the fat haflinger and equally fat POA. Frat house, the 4 year old geldings and the houdini haflinger that are always finding ways to get in trouble. That paddock might also be called the detention center. General population, everybody else.
We went through this with one of mine several years ago. Turns out that he was not drinking as well as he should when the weather turned cold. Adding salt to his feed, giving him a mash (Beet Pulp, alfafa or anything that holds a lot of water) and adding molasses or gatorade to flavor a bucket of warm water daily helped increase his water intake. We never had a problem after that.
We had a tb gelding who would colic every year just around
Christmas time (which generally coincided with the first
bout of especially cold weather here). I finally realized that
he was not drinking enough and was getting impacted. I
then took to holding him at the stock tank until he agreed
to at least dip his muzzle into the water. That usually would
result in him deciding to take a drink. It took daily repetition of holding him until he at least took one swollow
of water, but he did learn to drink on command. That stopped the colicking.