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Can we have a serious discussion about Colic? And Colic Prevention?

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  • #61
    Originally posted by thumbsontop View Post
    I wanted to add an interesting detail to this...

    The mare was a little welsh with a filly by her side. I had never, ever dealt with colic before but thought I knew what to watch for from other people's experiences and what I read. But the reality was much different in this case. The mare galloped endlessly from one end of the 2 acre paddock to the other. The only time she would stop would be to bite her knees and pasterns. She would bite herself until she bled - and then take off at a gallop again. I finally managed to stop her by the time the vet got there and administered meds. I can't remember what she called it - reflective pain transfer or something? She had never seen a horse self-mutilate so badly when colicking but said that it does happen. Poor filly was just trying to keep up and exhausted. Everyone turned out fine thankfully and I never had an issue again with her.
    Now THAT is bizarre! Thanks for sharing


    • Original Poster

      Originally posted by MaresNest View Post
      Now THAT is bizarre! Thanks for sharing
      Yes, I agree. I never thought that colic could present differently ... and holy smokes! I'm surprised you didn't have issues with the baby!!!

      It's also interesting to see the results of the poll. 57 out of 89 people, don't have a problem, and haven't had for a minimum of 3 years. Interestingly enough, I find the rescue question the most fascinating.
      "For God hates utterly
      The bray of bragging tongues."
      Sophocles, Antigone Spoken by the Leader of the Chorus of Theban Elders


      • #63
        What a timely thread! The vet drove away about 30 minutes ago. OTTB gelding showed very mild discomfort when he came in this morning. He is out to very poor drought stricken pasture at night and in under fans for the heat of the day. DH bush hogged the dust bowl yesterday, and I didn't think that much about it because there just isn't THAT much green out there-but maybe there's more grass out there than I thought. Looks like I'll be doing the "poop dance" today.

        Do horses at the track colic often? They never have turnout and the time out of the stall is very limited. That seems like a dangerous combination for a high strung horse like they often are.


        • #64
          Have not read the entire thread, but wanted to give you my thoughts. With all of our CANTER horses, we've only had a few colic episodes. Each case was preventable, in my opinion, and has changed the way I handle horses.
          To note:
          - None of our horses on 24 hour turnout have experienced a colic episode.
          - Each colic we did experience was after a major change in housing (new barn, with new hay, new grain, in a stall)
          - One horse started gas colicing when he was removed from the foster home that was not feeding him sufficiently, and he lost a drastic amount of weight. Putting weight back on and being in "poor" condition caused major stress and he was repeatedly colicing. He was carefully managed and brought back to full weight and is now fine.
          - One major colic that we had involved a horse who was in three barns in two weeks, in the winter and he stopped drinking. His colic was very bad, but surgery was not an option. I spent three days giving IV fluids to pass the impaction, which he did pass. http://img2.putfile.com/main/1/911033629.jpg

          Now I give horses Ranitidine when they are changing locations, try to bring hay that they are used to, and give electrolytes when they are making major changes.


          • Original Poster

            Originally posted by lesson junkie View Post
            They never have turnout and the time out of the stall is very limited. That seems like a dangerous combination for a high strung horse like they often are.
            Well, first. JINGLES!!

            Second, track horse have an extremely high incidence of ulcers. HUGE, like 90% or something. At least, that's what I've read/heard. Fairweather, very interesting comment.

            What is Ranitidine?
            "For God hates utterly
            The bray of bragging tongues."
            Sophocles, Antigone Spoken by the Leader of the Chorus of Theban Elders


            • #66
              Thanks, Oldenburg Mom-I'm heading back to the barn to check on him now. He's had had Banimine, so he'll be grumpy about not getting breakfast. He's a lovely guy-was a successful racehorse and has that "I am somebody" look about him. He is a Secretariat grandson and can strike that famous Tony Leonard portrait pose. He just kills me, makes me feel 18 again.

              Please give your friend my condolences.


              • #67
                Originally posted by Oldenburg Mom View Post
                What is Ranitidine?
                An antacid. Hospitalized horses are frequently put on it to discourage ulcer development while they are in a strange place receiving strange meds and (probably) not getting turned out. It doesn't actually do anything for existing ulcers, though. So if it's suspected that ulcers already exist, it's common for the horse to also be put on Sucralfate. The Ranitidine prevents new ulcers from forming, and the Sucralfate acts like a Band-aid for those that may already exist.

                Of course, if ulcers are confirmed to exist, Gastroguard/Ulcerguard are the gold standard.


                • #68
                  In my 30 + years owning horses I had one colic from getting fed grass clipping from the lawn (father), but it was very mild and didn't even need to call a vet.

                  Most recently I had both horses colic together thanks to eating winter rye grass. Weather got colder and I mowed the pasture problem was gone.

                  My old timer choked once so I began adding water to his feed and then my young mare would occasionally act like she was having difficulty with the pellets so she gets her watered down as well.

                  New pony gets hers watered down because I just find it less risky! But I associated it with choke prevention more than colic prevention.

                  If I had a horse that was colicing for no apparent reason I would re-examine the worming regimen!
                  No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle. ~Winston Churchill


                  • #69
                    Originally posted by RAyers View Post
                    There are few answers to the colic question. Colic is such a general condition that there can be thousands of causes and no one real solution. what works for one horse may kill another.

                    I have had horses die form a variety of colics and not one was the same as the other (mesenteric tear and salmonella). One was surgically treated and one wasn't. Each had a different diet and each had different types of stabling, and riding schedules. I had other horses with colics treated at the barn using a vareity of methods (tubing, theraputic trailer ride, banamine,...).

                    Even after working at a large animal hospital I find I learned that each case is different and there is no way to prevent colic.

                    Thus, my belief is that you do the best you can, work with your vet and hope.

                    Same here.


                    • #70
                      Timely thread, as I have been dealing with several colic episodes in the last 3 months.

                      My horse showed symptoms of colic at the end of Aprl, and the vet did the tubed/banamine routine, after a rectal exam showed impaction. Then, in early June, he again showed colic signs, more mild that time so the vet didn't do a rectal exam or tubing, just banamine and it resolved. This last one was at the beginning of July, and it was far more serious and took almost 6 days before he could eat normally again. Rectal exam showed impaction again, and he was in the worst pain I have ever seen him in. Sweating profusely, pawing, yawning, stretching, laying down, tucked up and groaning were his symptoms. He came very close to going to the clinic, but pulled through. Vet thought it may have been ulcers, or a perhaps a stone. I think his disposition predisposes him to ulcers, so that is probably the more likely cause. I will know in the next month or so if it happens again, since it has been happening fairly regularly every 5 or so weeks. He is a nervous nelly about anything new or anything changing in his world. If the kids are playing too closely to the barn and they put up a jumper in the yard or a fly trap in the aisle, he stresses out and hides in the back of his corral. Each colic episode was precluded by a stress episode - the last one was July 5th and with all the fireworks the nite before (right near his corral too), then combined with someone putting a fly trap in his corral, he didn't eat or drink all day long saturday. He then colic'd moderately the following Monday.

                      I power pac'd him in mid-June after his mild episode at my vets direction. As a preventative for impactions, I have changed his goodies to 4 lbs of timothy pellets, 2 cups of shredded BP, and added corn oil to put some weight on since he has dropped a little weight over the last few months. He also gets Reitsport, extra vitamin E, and I am looking into adding a calming or gut soother supplement. He gets his alfalfa first, which acts a gut buffer. His goodies are made into a watery soup, which he slurps right down. I have two water buckets in his stall, because he dunks his timothy hay, which I encourage. If I know ahead of time there is going to be activity near the barn (like a party or heavy yard work) I will feed him mineral oil ahead of time so that everything is lubed up and moving along. So far, this seems to be working, but who knows? It hasn't been 5 weeks yet!

                      I wish I had turnout, but living in southern california, no such luck. I try to ride as often as I can, but sometimes work or vacation get in the way and he will not get out for exercise for several days. I can only do what I can.


                      • #71
                        What is Ranitidine

                        Originally posted by MaresNest View Post
                        An antacid. Hospitalized horses are frequently put on it to discourage ulcer development while they are in a strange place receiving strange meds and (probably) not getting turned out. It doesn't actually do anything for existing ulcers, though. So if it's suspected that ulcers already exist, it's common for the horse to also be put on Sucralfate. The Ranitidine prevents new ulcers from forming, and the Sucralfate acts like a Band-aid for those that may already exist.

                        Of course, if ulcers are confirmed to exist, Gastroguard/Ulcerguard are the gold standard.
                        Er not quite, ranitindine like omeprazole (the active drug in ulcergard) is a proton inhibitor. E.g it prevents the cells of the stomach lining from producing acid.
                        The term anti-acid is usually preserved for the inorganic buffers made from salts of calcium,magnesium, bismuth or aluminium such as TractGard, neighlox or pepto-bismol.
                        So while you are technically correct, Ranitidine does prevent acidity, it has a different chemical action from the the conventional "anti-acids", and as such we don't generally call it an anti-acid.

                        Sorry to be such a pedant!
                        Melyni (PhD) PAS, Dipl. ACAN.
                        Sign up for the Equine nutrition enewsletter on www.foxdenequine.com
                        New edition of book is out:
                        Horse Nutrition Handbook.



                        • #72
                          I'll admit, I haven't read all the replies, so I'm probably repeating someone elses ideas, but here is my basic view on colic. Most colics happen when something changes from normal - new feed, more/less exercise, trailering etc . To prevent, try to keep everything as constant as possible and make transitions slowly. Another thing that can help prevent colic ( and ulcers) is to have hay in front of the horse as much as possible- in the wild, horses do not eat 2 meals a day. They grab bites of food as they move. They also to not eat large amounts of rich feed. If you are worried about your horse gaining too much weight or gulping hay down in 5 seconds flat, slow feed haynets can not only let them have hay in front of them all day and decrease hay waste. If you are worried about water intake, particularly when traveling , bring some water from home with you and offer it often. Wet mashes ( beet pulp is my favorite) can also help a lot. If you are making a long trip and your horse won't eat in the trailer, stop every few hours to let them out, walk around and feed+ water them .


                          • #73
                            I've had my gelding for about 4 and a half years now (my first horse) and he coliced about 3 years ago. I guess it would be considered minor as only tubing and Banamine were required.

                            He coliced from not drinking enough water in the winter. It rarely freezes here, but if it's not actually HOT out, he doesn't drink enough. He had passed a few manure piles, but he was obviously not right as he was lying down in the rain. I called the vet immediately and she came out and found an impaction through the rectal exam. He recovered quickly.

                            I now add loose salt to his daily snack (about 3/4 lb of low carb pellets) from roughly October through April to encourage drinking. I also add a little anytime we get a sudden weather change in the "non-salt" months. Since he has also choked before, I feed him a very wet mash of his soaked pellets every day which also gets more water into him.

                            This same horse has also had two reactions to his flu/rhino shot even using different brands and giving banamine with the shot (he now gets the intra-nasal version), random explosive diarrhea that cost me a fortune in testing (the cause was never determined) but cleared up in a few days, a fractured tooth that had to be pulled, a suspected suspensory problem (suspected because nothing showed up on x-ray or ultrasound), and most recently a bout of low-grade laminitis for no apparent reason (not Cushing's and not IR-we tested for both, lives on dry lot, gets plain grass hay, etc.). He appears to be recovered now, but I am just waiting for the next random health issue to pop up!

                            Lucky for him he is the sweetest horse on the planet, but I could have done with a few less vet bills. My mare, on the other hand, has had only one emergency vet call. She needed stitches when she actually fell onto a section of wooden fence and basically split open a 4" gash in her chest


                            • #74
                              My mare has had mild colic episodes twice when turned out onto spring grass--very rich! for too long a period in the beginning. Vet has counseled me to gradually work up to longer grazing times, which has helped tremendously.


                              • #75
                                I totally agree with this. I think as much turn out as possible, and good hay make a huge difference. I've owned my horse for 7 years and he hasn't had a problem. The first few years he was in a stall at night and out during the day, the last few years he has been out 24/7.

                                Originally posted by Old Jr. Hunter View Post
                                I have never had a horse colic in my 35+ years of riding. I believe in the basics of adequate (if not constant) turnout, good quality hay (and lots of it to keep the gut moving), routine care (meaning try to keep it the same each day) and a low-stress environment (meaning: people, be 'chill' around the barn).

                                edited to say, obviously clean water 24/7 is a must.


                                • #76
                                  Some colics can be prevented while others, the colics that come out of no where for example, cannot. I have witnessed two horses suffer terrible colics due to untreated ulcers. One survived with surgery, the other had to be put down. Both horses had obvious symptoms of ulcers. One horse even had been treated for ulcers by a former owner in the past but the new owner didn't keep up with maintaining treatment when needed. Both horses had mild colic episodes on a regular basis plus other tell tale ulcer symptoms. In those cases, I think that ulcer treatment would have helped tremendously and likely prevented the severe colics.

                                  I have only been in horses for about 10 years so take what I say with a grain of salt, but none of the horses in my care have ever suffered a colic.
                                  I have had horses at home and I have boarded at several places. I only board at places that offer 24/7 turnout with attached run in or stall as well as grass available for grazing. I think that is the #1 reason why I haven't seen much colic. The private farm I managed for 4 years also never had any colic and the barn owner kept her horses in the same fashion. She had not had a colic on her farm in many years.
                                  In addition, I also make sure my horse has plenty of clean water available at all times, in winter he gets a heated stock tank, horses are going to be less likely to drink from a frozen bucket with ice chunks! Unlimited grass hay, as little grain as possible and the grain I do feed is low suger, low starch and mostly made of beet pulp, TC Senior. In addition, my horse gets a daily dose of Uckele GUT for general gut health and pre/pro biotics.When he has been in a stressful situation I have given omeprazole as a preventative for as long as needed. I think all of these elements combined have been the key to low colic incidence.


                                  • #77
                                    I've kept 3-4 horses at home for the past 11 years, until last week, I'd never had a colic worth calling a vet for. Out of nowhere my 16 year old gelding, who gets about 1.5 lbs of grain total each day, is out on grass 24/7, and gets good hay and good access to clean water colicked. Thursday he was in terrible pain, but was up acting normal before the vet even got there. We assumed it was gas, gave him a surfactant and electrolytes, banamine etc. After a day acting just iffy, he was awful friday morning, and we went with mineral oil that time. Took 48 hours for the mineral oil to make it through, but finally by Sunday he was acting like his old self. Am in panic mode about this happening again. I don't see him as a surgical candidate (questionable soundness/ridability, I doubt I could GIVE him away). I want to know WHY this was so out of the blue, except for the constant rain we've had for weeks, and odd weather change...


                                    • #78
                                      Back in the good old days before Ivermectin,colic Rx was a way of life for many equine practitioner. Once Ivermectin came out in tube paste,and OTC, colics became more rare. However the colics that did present were usually pretty serious.

                                      These are the colics that are in the hands of the surgeon, if feasible, and the gods.
                                      Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                                      Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                                      • #79
                                        Some colics are absolutely not preventable. Strangulating lipomas, nephrosplenic entrapments, etc fit into this category.
                                        However, others such as those due to parasites, ulcers, sand, rapid diet changes, coastal bermuda, etc are very preventable.
                                        In my experience as a tech at a referral hospital, horses on 24/7 turnout are those that tend to have the fewest colics, while those who live in stalls have the most. One show/training barn where the horses were never turned out and were fed hay only once daily had an incredibly high incidence of surgical colic. The barn had around 20 horses in training and I think we did surgery on 4 colics from there last year!


                                        • #80
                                          I have been very lucky over the years (40+ of horse ownership - knock on wood). I've had 2 cases of mild gas colic that resolved very quickly, the last one about 3 years ago with a tube of Equi-spaz (love the stuff). I am very careful about his diet, make sure he has fresh water and drinks enough (which I encourage by giving him a tbsp of salt with his nightly soup of supplements).

                                          I also try to reduce his stress level by keeping to a very regular schedule.
                                          He lightly works seven days a week (20-40 min), with a dressage or jump lesson a week.

                                          I also think that some horses are just more prone to colic than others.

                                          "I am still under the impression that there is nothing alive quite so beautiful as a thoroughbred horse." -- John Galsworthy