Post Colic Surgeries (yes plural) and after care dilema
Sooo, this fall my horse had 2 rounds of colic surgeries, no resection and vets seem to think second bout of colic related to unusually warm weather w/ full moon... so after 2nd surgery sent him off to rehab center as normal barn isn't set up for private turnout which he'd need for at least a month. Problem is I love the BM/O of the facility and she takes great care of the horses but, the place is somewhat lacking in terms of quality pasture, its okay but not great. The other horses there are all doing well, healthy and happy. I want to do what's best for my horse so I'm weighing whether I should look into other barns or bring him back to current barn. I don't know whether I'm being overly paranoid post colic surgery or what so I thought I'd see if the COTH experts could help weigh in.. Should add that horse has never had any gastric issues prior to this event. The first surgery was due to an umbilical hernia - at age 13 if you can believe that. thanks
after only 1 month since the surgery, I would not put him out with other horses. how much turn out is he supposed to have? can a schedule be worked out so that your horse could have some time alone and then the others go out, or the opposite rotation?
I assisted a friend whose horse had a double twist, no resection. I raced over to our vet and surgery in the middle of the night with a 17.1 old eventer.
We hand grazed that horse for weeks afterwards. And we did the alfalfa tea and bran mashes and SMZs and everything else f or him, in shifts, day and night. He was fine. He was not turned out with another horse, only hand grazed, until his owner finished school and went home about a month after surgery. She kept him at hone in SW GA, and hand grazed him there until the vet told her it was OK to turn him out with her pony.
So I'd say, get a friend at the same barn to help you hand graze your horse until the vet says he is ready for group turnout.
Changes in weather and full moons don't "cause" a colic...the environment can have an impact on NSC's in grass, how much a horse drinks...etc...but in and of itself, does not create a colic...just saying
And actually, with two so close together...i would be digging my investigator suit out and would get to work immediately on trying to figure out the REAL cause of his issues...is he maybe getting into something toxic in his T/O? Chewing on some bark from a toxic tree? Eating toxic leaves?
I tend to be very cautious with my horses recovering from anything. I imagine the vets sent you out with a care sheet detailing the schedule ahead to follow, and that is what I would do to the letter before bringing him home. If they didn't do that, I would get a sheet from them.
Mine had re-sectioning and was confined to hand walking for 30 days, solo small turnout for 30 days, solo large turnout for thirty days, and then herd turnout a few hours a day, building up to all day, and then to 24/7. We were essentially tied up in this schedule for about 4 months. You're not looking so much at loading in the grass here, but insuring the incisions heal without adhesions causing you problems later on, and rebuilding his strength from the surgery. So for me, whichever barn can handle the complete recovery schedule as the vets outlined it, so it can be done safely and completely, is the one I would stay with at this point. That's just my opinion, from a very cautious owner. I wish you the best of luck with your horse!
"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein
OP, when you say the rehab place is "lacking in pasture" do you mean turn out time or grass?
And where are you? some of the recommendations here are good but not if you live where the hand grazing would be eating snow or dead brown grass and any alfalfa available is...ahhh...crap or overpriced leftovers.
Leave him at the rehab. Most other barns are just not set up to provide aftercare or babysit a sick horse if this colic occurs yet again.
I do agree reoccuring colic in a horse that has repeated colic surgeries is a huge concern that should be investigated...and not by the weatherman.
When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.
I would keep him at whichever place has the most experienced staff and can follow the instructions from the vet, to the letter. I've helped with a couple post-surgical colic recoveries and sure, it's boring to stand there hand grazing while the bugs eat you for lunch, and walking exactly the proper number of minutes around, and around, and around the arena -- but the horses I helped with came through it fine, without complications, and that's gratifying. And as someone else said, grass at this time of year is more for entertainment than a significant source of anything useful (maybe in Florida they have real grass in winter?).
I will say that the 4 post-colic-surgery horses I know all have unique feed plans. Senior feed or pelleted feed rather than oats and corn. One gets daily dewormer. One gets probiotics. Softer, finer hay, avoiding anything very stemmy. Pasture with grass for the ones who can handle it. Consistent exercise. Sadly, some of it is trial and error but it's all about really good management. Good luck with your horse!
Sorry I wasn't as clear on my post as I thought. Horse is currently at an amazing rehab facility - where he's getting hand-walked, private turn-out etc. It's the return BACk from rehab I'm angsting over. Some additional background - first surgery was related to an umbilical hernia where his intestine dropped thru hold in abdominal wall - odd for a 13 y/or horse; 5 weeks post that surgery, gas colic for which he underwent another surgery. During the first post-op period he was getting hand-walked 2-3 times a day per discharge papers and appropriate feed. No clue why the gas colic - after that I opted to send him to a rehab that has a vet on the property. In about a month he'll be ready to join group turnout. Where I board the BM/O is great and takes good care of the horses but as mentioned her pastures are fair but not good quality -and right now there's hayrolls. The question is should I return him back to original barn or look into other places w/ better quality pasture?
It doesn't sound like the pasture was the most likely cause of his issues in the first place-- if you know the care is really good and they are feeding good quality hay/ feed of the type that the surgeon recommends, I think that is probably as "safe" a choice as a new place you don't know that appears to have better pasture. This is one of those times when you have to make the best choice you can and then cross your fingers and live with the consequences because no matter what you choose things can still go wrong.
I board at a barn that doesn't have any pasture (not unusual in costly New England). My pony had surgery a few years ago and after a couple of months of rehab at home, she was able to return to her turnout (which is a small paddock with one other companion) and plenty of hay. So if your horse was otherwise healthy on the pasture that your current barn provides, I wouldn't move him for better pasture alone. It probably is worth discussing the possible causes of the colic with your vet and you barn owner. Obviously, if there was some element of care (or lack thereof) that contributed to his colic, you may want to move him if that can't be addressed.