Sometimes, the treatment of multiple colics can cause intestinal upset...such as ulcers...triggering a cycle of colic...meds...colic.
I have dealt with a few horses with chronic colic and once I broke the cycle, the colics stopped.
I have suggested using warmed grain water 2 -3 times per day, preferbly given with each meal. I dissolve a few handfuls of their favorite grain in warm water. The amount of water should be appropriate for the size of the horse. The idea is to make sure they are drinking at least 3/4 of their expected daily intake divided between the meals. When and if your horse experiences colic again, you should be able to continue offering the warm grain water while you decrease or remove the hay.
I would also suggest you start ulcer treatment, even if you can only afford a bottle of cimetridine.
I also agree that fine soft hay can be a colic problem.
I am happy to say that I have not had a vet to my farm to treat colic since I have adopted the warm grain method...it has been several years now and I currently have 12 horses ranging from 9 months to 22 years.
The smart pak thing only works if your horse hasn't colicked in the last year, I looked into that.
We have considered keeping him off hay, at least for awhile. If he colics again, I'll take it more seriously. In the meantime, I think we have a game plan..
Triple crown senior at the rate of 3#'s twice daily. 4-5#'s of orchard or timothy hay every twelve hours. We will treat him for sand even if my vet doesn't think we need too. Better safe than sorry. I'm ordering the blue pop rocks, and we'll do that for 30 days or so to cover the ulcer thoughts. We will adjust feed/hay as his weight picks back up. He will be on 24 hour turnout if at all possible.
If he colics again, we'll pull the hay and feed the TC senior only for a month to six weeks, then try timothy hay again and see what happens.
The hard part of this is the sheer paranoia.
edited to add: all food will be wet (hay and feed), and adding one TB of salt to each feeding.
I haven't read through all the replies yet, but you CAN feed a horse on just complete feed. Think about all the toothless horses that can only eat a mash. If I had to do it long-term, I would try to split it into at least 3 feedings day.
There are also complete feeds formulated for IR horses now.
LMF Low NSC Complete comes to mind, but there are others.
You might want to do either a PowerPack (double dose of fenbedazole for 5 consecutive days) or use Quest to de-worm him to deal with possible encysted strongyles. Ivermectin and praziquantel don't kill encysted strongyles, and when the strongyles begin to break out of their cysts they create ulcers and can cause colic symptoms.
Ask your vet.
"The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky
I have gone through this with tragic results. I lost a horse that had repeated blockages in his illiam. I tried surgery but too late, his condition had deteriated too much. Each blockage in that area does more damage and with my horse, by the time we went in, his illiam had completely prolapsed into his cecum. If I thought it was happening again, I would take my horse completely off hay and other fibre like beet pulp that digests in the cecum in hopes of not creating any more blockage. I think grass would be fine. I would wet everything down until it was soupy. My horse had learned to consitantly drink to push the materials past the restricted area. As far as we could tell, with my horse the problem started at least a year before I got him. The colics were horribly painful, he would, literally, throw himself on the ground with the pain but each time they would resolve with fluids until near the end. I know what you are saying about the bills. In the last year of his life each month I was paying $500 to $1,500 in vet bills. I hope your results are better than mine.