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Observation about gas colic/weather/ulcers

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  • Observation about gas colic/weather/ulcers

    This is, of course, anecdotal, so take it as you wish, but I'm finding it quite interesting.

    My horse has has a difficult time with recurrent gas colics, usually tied into changes in the weather and barometric pressure. (Researchers will tell you that there is no correlation between the two things, vets who work in places like the Rocky Mountains will tell you otherwise.) Mostly, I've been able to handle them, but we ended up with two emergency vet visits and an overnight stay inthe horsepital last fall.

    After the last incident in November, he started to display all the typical signs of having an ulcer. I thought it could very well have been from the stress of the vet trip and the banamine, etc., that they had to pump into him, so I treated accordingly with GG and then followed up with generic omeprazole at a low daily dose, which he has been on for about 2 months now.

    We've had some wild weather in the past few weeks. Big fronts coming through, huge changes in temperature, barometric pressure, very high winds, snow, you name it. The sort of weather that would normally have me with the trailer hooked up and by BO or me checking on him every few hours to make sure he was still OK.

    Not this time. He's a happy horse. Not even a wrinkled eyebrow to show any distress.

    (I may regret typing this if I get a call from the barn today...)

    So, my take on this is that the low-dose omeprazole has helped ameliorate whatever has been causing the colics. Does he get anxious about the incoming weather and does that aggravate his ulcer tendencies? He doesn't appear to--he's actually one of those horses that you can ride whilst the wind is whipping tumbleweeds across the arena without feeling like you are about to die, but that probably means he's just internalizing. Who knows.

  • #2
    Your observations are just fine. You know your horse better than anyone else so trust your gut.

    All of us Rocky Mountain neighbours who have to endure the wild and sometimes violent barometric changes that come from Chinooks (where the temperature rises from minus 20/30 degrees Celsius (um that's just plain COLD no matter how you translate it) to plus 10 degrees Celsius in the space of a few hours), and the subsequent days to a week of warm, mild albeit Westerly windy weather while the Chinook hovers over top of us, which is then usually followed by an Alberta Clipper (where the temperatures plummet with snow, high-velocity NE wind, and bitter cold), can all attest that the horses do react, sometimes quite profoundly. (How's that for a super-duper run-on sentence?)

    The weather changes are quite stressful on horses whether they appear to take it all in stride or not. Wind might not be spooky for a horse, but the fluctuating cold-warm-cold with snow stresses the body's metabolic system. Sudden cold requires the metabolism to fire up to full steam in order to keep warm which taxes the caloric requirements, and sudden warmth of a Chinook makes it a bit too uncomfortably warm underneath their heavy winter coat. They react to the stress via ulcers, colic, behaviour, whatever. Humans react to these wild changes too - I have 2 friends who always have severe Chinook migraine that completely incapacitates them to a dark, quiet room and bed, and 1 friend who has bleeding noses with the onset of Chinooks.

    We can't do much about their stress, but we can help their metabolic needs by feeding a very high hay roughage diet with less starch sources. I tend to use a sloppy beet pulp because of its high fiber and low glycemic index, plus the water addition to the gut. Additionally during severe cold, I can feed it hot which is like warm soup on the tummy and it helps spark up the metabolism. My horses will stand on their head for a hot beet pulp mash.

    Now that you know you have an ulcer-prone horse, you should keep the stuff on hand and treat proactively the next time a huge barometric switch is headed your way. Ask if your barn manager will increase the hay by a little bit.

    Last week we had a lovely warm Chinook that hung around for about 8 or so days. Didn't need a jacket and a couple horses started shedding (yikes!). It was warm and sunny and snow melted like crazy - my 8 foot snowdrifts shrunk to a mere 4 feet high during those 8 days and water running everywhere. Now, we're in the midst of a Clipper... currently very cold, clear skies, and brilliantly sunny, but wild wind and heading for snow in the next day or so and continued ouchie cold. Woke to up -30 this morning AGAIN, for the 3rd morning in a row. First thing I noticed is water consumption dropped, so sloppy mashes are important in those situations.

    But yes, I hear you and definitely empathize.
    Practice! Patience! Persistence!
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    • Original Poster

      #3
      Yes on the wet stuff--nothing passes any of my horses' lips that isn't good and wet. This particular horse can't deal with beet pulp, unfortunately. My home boys get it every day for breakfast.

      And everyone gets as much hay as they will eat. Very important to keep those systems moving.

      Cold and snowing here this weekend. My 8 ft drifts are back after last week's thaw.

      Roll on spring. I think. Not sure I'm really looking forward to all this lot melting!

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