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Our first colic

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  • Our first colic

    Glad that was short. My 22 YO Cushing’s mare just had her first bad colic in her life. Actually first bad colic in my 22 years of having horses ( this mare born in my backyard). Been reading up on reasons for spasmodic colic and there is absolutely no change in routine, except I ran out of StayStrong Metabolic pellets, that contain Yeasac yeast. Just got back on it yesterday. Wonder it that matters? Off pasture the last few weeks. Same high fiber, low sugar hay for 5 years. Eats out of a tub. Wormed last month, nice sunny day, rode her yesterday, etc. She refused her late afternoon meal. She went from mopey to really bad in 10 minutes. I gave her a syringe of Pepto-Bismol and started walking. I thought it was over when she pooped twice, but then she was to refusing to stand. By the time the vet pulled in, she was just laying down groaning with her eyes glazed. This is a stoic mare, so I’m totally freaking out. So I’m telling the new vet her case history, how I'm so terrified of a stangulated lipoma that these metabolic types often die of, helping gather up stuff, and we go in the shed and she’s up bright eyed eating hay! Normal vital signs. Diminished but OK gut sounds. Everything normal via rectal exam. In like 5 minutes she went from ‘God, she’s gonna die’ to, ‘so what’s the big deal?’ Where’s the rest of my meal? 30 minutes from start to finish.

    Vet acted like she understood I’m really not crazy and colics can resolve like this very quickly. Gave her a shot of banamine and said maybe give her a lighter night meal. OK, so you guys that are used to colic: How long before you call the vet? Was I in too much of a hurry? Gosh I need a drink.
    Are you feeding your horse like a cow? www.safergrass.org

  • #2
    Thats the thing about gas colic--its looks much worse then the deadly ones. And they go from swan song to just fine fast. You feel silly and stupid, but you just can't tell whats going on until someone sticks their trained arm up there and feels around.

    So if its a rare occurance just always call the Vet. Its worth the $$ for peace of mind. If it becomes something she does all the time, it gets really hard to know what to do.

    I went through about 100 gas colics over almost 20 years with my horse. Each time was agonizing to know whether to call the Vet or not. I was always worried the one time I didn't all would be the real impaction that needed a Vet, but I couldn't spend $1,000s a year on false alarms.

    When the real one came I knew becuase it was not dramatic, it did not look all that serious and he was not better by the time the first Banimine shot wore off.

    The Vet did not rush out becuase she was sure it was just another gas colic. She did not know how bad it was until after the intial exam and she did a rectal. She was sort of shocked.

    So if its something that happens once or twice every few year just call the Vet. If you can afford it call the vet every time. If it becomes a regular event in an older horse? All I wish I knew before it was too late was that in all those false alarms I could have asked to be shown how to do a rectal and done that myself much ealier. It wouldn't have saved my horse, but the time spent not knowing was pretty bad.

    In the end, what are your options? Is she surgical canidate? Do you have your own Banimine and colic meds? If sugery is not an option then all you can do is fluids and bargins with the god of your choice and keep the drugs going to help with the pain.

    Its always worth the $$$ to have the Vet tell you if its gas or something more serious. The instant feeling better is just part of it. It doesn't mean you wasted your time or the Vets. It just means you are lucky Your Vet wasn't acting like you were not crazy, she was just glad you called. I sure didn't think they were crazy when they said my horse was dying and he wasn't and when he was dying they didn't get mad that I waited. They assumed it was the same old thing.

    Glad it all worked out and you never really get used to it. A spasmadic colic may be a good term for both owner and horse. We all act like spazes when they lie down and look like they should have Xs for eyes.


    • #3
      I am glad it turned out well for you. Colic is really scarey.It is terrifying how they can go downhill so fast. I had to help put a pony down last night. he was old ,late 20's,a very sweet old guy. he was found in the field in the afternoon ,lying down covered in sweat.Managed to get up and get to his stall,and went down in very bad shape. The owner gave him some oral banamine,thinking he didn't have time to go to the house for the injectable.He seemed better in about 15 minutes ,the quickly went down hill again.
      i got a call that the pony may be dying ,and raced back to the farm ,but what with getting stopped for speeding and all,took me about 40 minutes.(I told the cop i was sorry ,but very upset that a horse that I care for was possibly dying . He decided I was telling the truth and let me go,ThankGod!)\
      When i got to the farm the pony was down ,and looking very bad. I felt then ,in my heart that he wasn't going to make it. But I got him up and walikg ,and got permission to call the vet.I was royally pissed that the vet hadn't been called,but the guy didn't really want to spend the money if the pony was dying anyway. I was like,"well,he might be,but you can't let him suffer like this." Funny thing way he has a mild colic episode about a month ago,and I gave him some banamine and by the time the vet stopping to check on him ,he was fine.
      Anyway ,it turned out ,last night,that he had a lyphoma,and nothing could be done.He was in a lot of pain.We led him out by the woods and let him lie down ,and the vet gave him the pink stuff.His owner( the wife,not the husband) and I were crying ,but tried to comfort the old boy as best we could. I think in the end that he knew he was loved and he passed peacefully.These people had owned him for the last 2 years ,but prior to that I think he had a hard life.They said he was in pretty bad shape when they got him.At least he had a couple of good last years ,and had been well cared for and was in good flesh ,looking quite well for his age. Still,it was a hard thing to watch.RIP ,Coy.


      • Original Poster

        Originally posted by equinelaw View Post
        In the end, what are your options? Is she surgical canidate? Do you have your own Banimine and colic meds? If sugery is not an option then all you can do is fluids and bargins with the god of your choice and keep the drugs going to help with the pain.
        Thanks. These are all really good questions and yes now I will be better prepared. I'm sure the bill for the emergency farm call will get my brain into rational , preemptive mode. Surgery is not an option here in the boonies, and even when I move to warmer winter lodging with the surgical vet down the street, I couldn't afford it and I think being locked up during recovery would kill her. My horses just don't do stalls.

        I guess I have become inured to mild laminitis. But colic is so much more dramatic, seeming to require something immediate. Gosh I would never have lasted through a 100 colics. You must be into transcendental meditation or drink a lot. Sorry you had to deal with it.
        starting to relax with help from Southern Comfort
        Are you feeding your horse like a cow? www.safergrass.org


        • #5
          Having been at boarding barns with horses colicing and helping to walk them out, give banamine, etc.. while waiting for vets and owners ... I think I've become a little less panic stricken... but when it's my own... aiy yie yie...

          I keep banamine paste. It's not as fast acting as injectable - but I'm more comfortable giving the paste in the event of mild "not quite rights"... since I trailer out for trail riding and camping, it's in my kit.

          Glad everything self-cleared. I think that sometimes horses have those times and we aren't even around ...


          • #6
            Drink up!

            I like you, have had horses more than 20 years and been blessed (knock on wood) to have had only 1 colic episode to deal with. Same thing. Gas. And it totally freaked me out as my mare (then 15) had never had an issue. Banamine and about 30 min later, she was fine. I never did have the vet out as she seemed better so fast.

            But I've been around a lot of colic...and I guess I'd have to totally agree with Equinelaw...the truly serious ones have never started out looking that acute. And the minor gas colic ones always LOOKED really emergent.

            When in doubt, call the vet--obviously.

            But our "colic" routine at this point is to administer banamine and as long as the horse isn't trying to go down, just wait a bit. If no improvement or worsening 30-60 min post banamine, then call vet. If trying to go down, call vet...get horse up and keep up.
            A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

            Might be a reason, never an excuse...


            • #7
              I guess I have become inured to mild laminitis. But colic is so much more dramatic, seeming to require something immediate. Gosh I would never have lasted through a 100 colics. You must be into transcendental meditation or drink a lot. Sorry you had to deal with it.
              starting to relax with help from Southern Comfort[/QUOTE]

              Its not so bad. You get used to it. And after a few hours or a few days you know its all better to its all over.. Now if I had to face laminitis??? Good grief I would need to give the colic drugs to myself! Colic is do or die and over fast either way. A few days at most, but founder is forever and they do not just fart and get better.

              I think in any case a sick horse is just so hard to watch! I avoid sick horses that are not well homed becuase once you have seen them down and in trouble you are bounded for life. Like human babies I guess?


              • #8
                Oh Katy do I feel for you.

                The gas colics are like Tasmanian Devils blowing through town-normal, looking dead, normal...all in the time it takes for a sitcom to finish.

                I have sadly been on the bad end of 2 colics. Both were taken for to the clinic and neither came home. I don't know if I would make that drive again.

                The best advice is be prepared with your plan in advance. Know how far you will go...as it sounds like you now do.


                • #9
                  I so know what you are feeling. Although after working at several barns and having 2 go to surgery myself I am a bit inured to colic.
                  Gas colics can be quite dramatic, but I personally have never had one end up in surgery because of that - "It was just a gas colic" is something that I can get through.
                  My colic protocall is to watch the horse first in a stall to see just how bad he are looking. I also get vital signs at this point. Check heart rate, if you are around 40 or under you are usually ok. If you are in the 60 bpm then you are in serious trouble and should call the vet on the way to the clinic.Check gut sounds as well. Ask your vet next time they are out to give you a basic lesson, but essentilly there are 4 "quadrants" lower and upper on both sides.
                  Listen for normal gut sounds before you have an emergency so you know what you are looking for. Sometimes with a gas colic you will have little to no sounds in one quadrant, but loud thundery rumbles or even pings on another. Also check capillery refill time and look at the gums. White gums, or red along the tooth edge are just bad news. Call the vet right away.
                  Then I start the walking. sometimes just a little change of scenery can do the trick.
                  After the first 10 minutes of walking if all seems well, back into the stall for some more monitoring. If that results in more pawing, rolling, lip flipping then it is back out for a walk with the cell phone where I discuss symptoms with the vet.
                  Depending on how the horse is doing at this point my vet might tell me to give 10cc's of Banamine (learning to do my own IV shots has been wonderful) Or if the horse is trying to lie down on our walks I will have them come up.
                  Usually it takes the vet about 45 minutes to get to my house, so in the mean time I walk, monitor in the stall and walk again.
                  And I would say most times the horse is feeling better by the time the vet arrives. A little buscapan, for a spasmodic colic. Maybe some oil and electolytes and a rectal always makes me feel better if not the horse.
                  Bottom line is the peace of mind the vet truck driving up the driveway, while a bit offset by the bill is actually priceless.

                  I hope you never become inured to colic. And that I never have to deal with Laminitis
                  "Half the failures in life result from pulling in one's horse when it is leaping."



                  • Original Poster

                    Well this morning she is fine and hungry and I have a hangover. Very apropos that Stoicism was the next topic on the philosophy course I’m watching on DVD.

                    We are afraid of things we do not know how to control. We inure ourselves to things we cannot control, but come to know as non life threatening. I guess I have nipped laminitis in the bud enough times, I’m not so afraid of it anymore. I even push the envelope with grazing, and I’ve learned a lot about what makes them ever so slightly sore. Fix it, go on. My younger mare, who has the more severe form of IR, gets sore when it’s brutally cold, and goes sound when it warms up. I’ve charted ambient temperature and it’s predictable. But she walks around, eats good. She just doesn’t trot when it’s below zero F, and then starts running and bucking when it gets to 50F. PIA, but it no longer frightens me.

                    I guess now that I have dealt successfully with colic that really DID look life threatening for a very long 15 minutes, I won’t panic so much the next time. I have a friend and BO who specializes in old horses. She told me to massage her and talk to her and get her to relax. She figures an hour to get over a quick bout of spasmodic colic. As long as they are not thrashing around, she’ll wait an hour to call the vet. The massage may have helped, and gives me something to do. Will maybe keep us both calm
                    Are you feeding your horse like a cow? www.safergrass.org


                    • #11
                      With 22 years of good, thoughtful, successful horsekeeping, I wouldn't be too quick to want to change anything, Katy.
                      Click here before you buy.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Katy Watts View Post
                        In like 5 minutes she went from ‘God, she’s gonna die’ to, ‘so what’s the big deal?’ Where’s the rest of my meal? 30 minutes from start to finish.
                        I've seen this a couple times, and it has always been due to ULCERS, not an actual colic. Might not be a bad idea to take a look at the stomach...


                        • #13
                          No advice, just sorry you went through that and glad she's better!
                          RIP Bo, the real Appassionato