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Hydration, travel and colic

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  • Hydration, travel and colic

    My horse had a mild colic two days after arriving in Aiken to do some much needed training in eventing heaven. Fortunately it resolved with IV fluids and good vet care. The vet said he'd gotten a little dehydrated and then probably gotten a fecal impaction. Anyway, what do you guys do to keep a horse who is a bit finicky in finishing his grain (and electrolyte top dressing) drinking well. Corn oil has also been suggested as a top dressing to keep his gut a little bit "lubed", but I've started paste electrolytes and added a little gatorade to his water for flavor. He does not seem to like his hay wet down either. Any suggestions?

  • #2
    We do molasses in the water. They turn into H20 'ho's for the most part. You can also try making the grain a bit soupy with some apple juice, which many really like. Paste electrolytes good. Ours in work all get electrolytes every day.
    OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!


    • #3
      For mine, in a word - sugar. And sugary substances - applesauce, apple juice, etc. He does not care about his health. He cares about sugar. (He rejected the "organic no additives" applesauce, because it didn't have that wonderful added sugar.)

      I wouldn't recommend coating his teeth with sugar all the time, but for special occasions, it's a priority shuffle.


      • #4
        I prep for long trips w/ banamine, paste electrolytes and feed wet grain w/ mineral oil, whole tube GastroGaurd.
        if they are finicky I get them used to wet warm feed in advance also a wee bit of Epsom salts, plus I feed the best Alfalfa I can find in the trailer


        • #5
          In 30 years, never had a colic, and I will tell you my big dark secret.

          Salt. Plain ole normal table salt. If you feed salt daily, start by adding a pinch, and up to about a tablespoon, two times a day, they will drink, no matter what the weather is, or how cold. Or where you are getting it from.

          Also, I never EVER feed Coastal, unless it's a mix with alfalfa. Probably up there, you don't have an issue with that, but down in the southern states, it colics way too many horses.

          Also, the banamine is a good idea. We give it, unless we are going to a competition where it is banned. Give them that, with the salt, and alfalfa, and they are usually golden. Also, if you feed beet pulp a week out, it helps to keep them hydrated, and most horses, once use to it, will gobble it down, no matter what you put in your feed.

          But the salt, it works amazingly well, and it is just simple to do. I have owned barns that have 40 plus horses, and managed barns with more. I can, knock on wood, say, I haven't had any problems. And the only thing I do differantly, is salt.
          May the sun shine on you daily, and your worries be gone with the wind.


          • #6
            Wet your hay in the trailer and offer extra sloppy mashes or just a scoop of grain in a bucket of water on the trailer. Anything he will consume that is wet. Practice ahead of time. Stop along the way and offer the food etc. I take the time, depending on the trailer to try to let the horses put their heads down--lets the snot drain out!

            Do not feed coastal hay if your horse is not used to it. Be VERY careful of SAND colic!! It is very nasty. Do not feed your horse on the ground. Use a psyllium thing like Sand Clear once you get home too, or halfway through your stay, depending on how long you are staying.

            If he won't eat electrolytes, dose him with them. You can add them to applesauce or yougert.

            If your horse is not used to working in sand, he should be fitter than you think he should be when you get there.

            Have a nice trip!


            • #7
              Sorry your horse coliced, glad it was easily resolved.

              Re Corn oil for lubrication/ corn oil will pretty much just get digested and isn't the best source of fats for horses anyway. Gut lubrication is achieved with mineral oil. Fine to do as a prep for shipping, severe weather changes, colic etc. Not great to do everyday as accumulation may prevent nutrient absorption over time.

              Agree with much of what has been posted above re increasing water consumption. Good Luck .


              • #8
                For any trip over 10 hours my vet passes a nasogastric tube and gives them fluids, oil, and electrolytes. Also for any trip we give them gastrogard
                For all your dog needs visit:


                • #9
                  Sorry to say, tubed fluids and mineral oil are in your future-administered by your vet, 6-12 hours before departure.

                  Before you need your horse to travel, do some experimenting-will he drink water with Gatorade? Molasses? Apple juice? HORSE QUENCHER? (my boys love Horse Quencher and red Gatorade) When you find the answer, get him drinking the flavored stuff for a couple of weeks prior to departure and keep serving it through his trip AND once he gets to his destination for a few days.

                  I hope all is well now and you're able to play hard in Aiken. ;-)
                  Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.


                  • #10
                    I had a horse that didn't drink well. A few things that helped:

                    -bobbing for apples (slice them and leave them floating in the water)

                    -molasses water with a handful of bran or grain on top (gets their mouth IN, then they slurp some)

                    -taking the horse off the trailer for a 5-10 minute walk or hand-graze, offering water before putting back on the trailer

                    -hacking horse at destination for 10-15 minutes, taking off bridle and offering water

                    -definitely soaked hay, flavoured water (or bring some of your own for the initial trip), beet pulp. Can also soak cubes (grass or alfalfa) which are more palatable than soaked hay.

                    I would try the horse quencher as well - didn't have it back then!

                    You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng


                    • #11
                      I know they did a study several years ago with heart monitors on young horses who shipped long distances, and found that the stress of traveling is similar to walking. So, if your horse ships 8 hours -- it's like walking him for 8 hours. Naturally he will need support for that sort of activity.

                      Agreed with Grzwy(sp ?) and Pol, if he has done this once -- you will need to make sure that subsequent shipping involves some careful planning and vet care. Fluids IV will beat drinking bec. most of the time even with all these great suggestions, they aren't going to drink enough. Each swallow is a cup -- and he'll need gallons to hydrate, not just swallows. I've got a horse that won't drink for crap and I've used every trick in the book (all of the above). Plain salt works best for him.
                      Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
                      Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)


                      • #12
                        Please don't take your horse off the trailer for a short walk/grass UNLESS you are in a very safe place. I did this once when I was 14. (First-horse-know-it-all-kid) Horse spooked, broke halter, ran all over the Maine Turnpike, naked, jumping guard rails, making horse shoe sparks on the pavement. Most terrifying 20 minutes of my life. Nobody died, there was no blood but I will NEVER take a horse down unless I am in a very safe (enclosed) place during a long trip. ;-/
                        Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.


                        • #13
                          A bran mash after his PM feed the night before is good. I've never done it before, but my trainer suggested I try it tonight before we leave for Southern Pines in the AM. It just helps clean them out a bit and gets things flowing! I'll do one when we get home on Sunday too.

                          I've kept him on electrolytes for most of the winter too and am gave him a dose of Ulcerguard yesterday, today, and will give at the show too.

                          Check out my blog at http://lindsayberreth.com


                          • Original Poster

                            Thanks everyone, great suggestions. He bounced back fast and with the vets approval did a little jumper derby the next day. Love those things! I'm probably going to scope him on a day off here to check for ulcers, even though we are not stingy covering him during travel with gastroguard. Either way, he's getting tubed before we head back and again for any long trip. Not going thru that if I can so easily avoid it. Trying various suggestions, nothing is really hitting a home run, I'm tubing electrolytes, Succeed and gastroguard.


                            • #15
                              One additional thing to try for helping with hydration-
                              watermelon. Some horses will happily eat that when
                              they won't drink anything. MIght be a trifle hard to
                              obtain this time of year, but could be helpful in summer.
                              Robin from Dancing Horse Hill
                              Elmwood, Wisconsin


                              • #16
                                Warm water

                                My guy loves warm water. He's always up for some no matter what time of year it is.

                                I shipped him down from MA to Aiken for the winter, and before he got on the trailer he drank half a bucket. It definitely gave me the warm fuzzies!

                                Maybe something to try with your guy?


                                • #17
                                  I'm a firm believe in preloading a horse with salt and electrolytes for a week before a trailer trip and competition weekend. Salt and or half salt in beet pulp, and an electrolyte mix like peform n win in oral syringe mixed into applesauce. When you tie up a hay net in the trailer, dunk the hay in water before tieing it up. Horses get beet pulp with half salt in all weekend. Enough salt in a horses diet makes them thirsty, and camouflage strange water by adding apple cider vinegar to their water at home. Our trailer has a water tank, so I continue to give them home water at events, but if you run out and have to switch, and you've been adding the apple cider vinegar, then it might mask the taste of strange water enough to keep them drinking. Sloppy beet pulp will continue to get extra fluids into them. My horses all love drinking out of the hose when I hose them off, they get quite a bit of extra water into them that way.


                                  • #18
                                    Grazing on green grass is actually a pretty good source of moisture if you have one that may be compromised.

                                    Someone mentioned letting them put their head down at some point during a trip and I think this is very important. One of the biggest (if not THE biggest) physical stress on long distance travel is respiratory. The inability to put their head down while in a trailer means they can't cough to clear the airways. Add in hay particles and a breeze and it can be a real problem. On longer trips I'll put down the chest bar of my trailer and let the horse stand without having his head and neck impeded for a few minutes while I make a food stop for myself. I've never had one that didn't snort and/or cough within a few minutes if not immediately. Since colic can be a symptom of stress I'd explore any option that might address the stress.


                                    • #19
                                      Teach him to drink tea. Passing a tube is great, but can have complications as can any usually benign procedure. I get an easy 5 -7 gallons into mine with two things- really wet feed (beep, alfalfa pellets +grain) and tea.

                                      Take molasses, about 1/4cup. Add scoop of whatever electrolyte you desire(I made my own usually), and some chaff off of hay cubes if you have it. Warmish water in a 5 gallon bucket Start them early, so they literally wil suck down the entire bucket before each ride. I hauled 12+ hrs often so would offer water as well as the above mid trip. They loved it and, and it worked really well for me.

                                      And always gastrogard-pricy, but worth it.