About this Blog

Meet my very 1st horse, Lazarus.
I couldn't wait for Santa anymore or ask one more time for a pony for my bday (after age 30 it got embarrassing). I took matters in my own hands and I finally decided to pick a pony that needed a new home. Laz found me as I contemplated with this idea. He was sweet yet very sassy, fresh off the track, Thoroughbred (OTTB).
Join us for our re-training, rehabbing from laminitis and testing all parts of mixed up horsemanship and partnership, and luck...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thoughts on Colic

Weather change.
It was warm, rainy and balmy this week which lead to Laz needing his turnout sheet off and being able to enjoy the weather as a free horse! He obviously enjoyed it.

Reasons I think he likes to roll in mud:
A. He wants to look like a PIG instead of a handsome TB
B.  Wants people to think he's neglected so they feed him carrots and apples
C.  Thinks his Mom needs to buff up her grooming arms

Kissable crescent moon shaped star!

"What Mom, I'm not that dirty!"

So being it was freeeeezing yesterday, I knew I had to get him groomed and re-blanketed.  We just did some light lunging/Parelli work.  He did great and was really enjoying to trot and walk around.  Lots of snorting, stretching and some nice happy bucks (not feisty I-don't-want-to-turn bucks).  I took him inside the barn after about 30 minutes of working and playing , to start the grooming session.  Side note about the blanket I'm using during this weather; it's a no fill turnout sheet, which is basically a wind breaker in vivid orange. I also secretly like it because during Hunting season, no one can mistake him for a deer.  

So, here's where my title of "Thoughts on Colic" come into play.
After grooming off his muddy coat, I noticed that he was very tail swishy when I groomed his belly and sides. He then did the classic, turn and look at belly.
Oh shit.
He then did a couple of belly kicks with his leg.
**Pass out**
I sighed and said "Please Laz.........do.not.colic.on.me."
I filled up a bucket with warm water, like bath warm, which he likes (trial and error last winter I figured that out) and he drank two big nice "see I'm OK Mom" gulps of it.  
Whew, ok....
I grabbed a couple of carrots.  He mowed on them. 
Whew, ok...
The BO's came in and I told them my concern.  They listened to his gut.  We checked his poops (normal 6 piles outside), we checked his water intake (normal-and why I LOVE not having an auto-waterer).
Laz did poop in the crossties and of course, like everyone crazy horsemom, I picked it up and pulled apart.  A little dry. 
The weather change???  It can cause horses to not drink like normal.

On my way home, I called my vet.  Now, don't get me wrong, if I saw anything else (not eating/drinking, etc) I would have called Vet immediately to come view him.

He promptly had his office call me back with things to do and not to do;
1.  Blanket him-Check
2.  Increase Salt to encourage drinking-Check 
(detail of that is 1 oz of Table Salt, and 1 oz of Light Salt which has Potassium in it)
3.  Heated Bucket-Not Check but he has two buckets in insulated tubs in stall

Vet said to count manure piles, monitor water intake and no bran mash because of his laminitis (I had asked about that).

Are there any tricks you all do to prevent if you see small signs of a possible Colic?  
-I've heard of Beet Pulp, heavily soaked (but that worries me to plug him up more)
-Aloe Vera juice? (sometimes colic can be caused by ulcers......I'm thinking of adding this)
-Soaked hay cubes??
-Coconut water (crazy I know, but high in Potassium and great for dehydration) just have never heard it used for horses but for people, I know it works wonders.  

I wish there was a horse nutritionist that existed!!!


  1. Horses today are rather prone to all kinds of digestive issues. Obviously, colic is one of the most well-known and most widespread. The hindgut in particular is very susceptible to problems like hindgut acidosis (raised acid levels) and ulcers. The hindgut is huge, extending all the way up to the girth area in a horse's barrel. It's very possible Laz's behaviors were indicating some kind of discomfort from an imbalance or ulcer, and not necessarily a gas colic or the more serious torsions and impactions. That's the hard thing with indications of a digestive issue; it could be many different things.

    Many horses have digestive issues because they get fed large amounts of grains. I'm guessing Laz gets hardly any (if any) sugary/starchy grains since he has a history with laminitis, so you've already got that going for you. Outside of that, the best thing you can do is make sure that he has plenty of access to hay. Does he get hay free choice or just twice a day? Constant access or multiple small meals throughout the day is one of the best ways to make sure his digestive tract is functioning correctly. That and plenty of water, which you are already taken care of.

    Laz is very fortunate to have such an attentive owner. Best wishes to both of you.

  2. I don't really know much about laminitis so I hesitate to make any suggestions. What works for Tucker when I think his tummy is upset probably wouldn't be good for Laz. But, I think being attentive and keeping track of everything like you are doing is probably the best preventative measure anyway! Hope it turns out to be nothing serious. Love the mud pictures... I wish I knew why being covered in mud is so appealing to them.

  3. We don't necessarily feed certain things to them to prevent colic. They all have salt blocks, no auto-waterers..so water consumption is always kept tabs on, and we have people there pretty much 24/7 and everyone is good about watching out for each others' horses. If we do see a horse acting somewhat colicky, the barn owner is contacted (she lives on-site though so she's usually there anyway) and bring them in and toss them on the lunge line. We try to get them trotting around for awhile, for some reason this seems to help their colic go away (bounces things around back into place apparently). If lunging doesn't help then they usually go ahead and get banamine and the vet is contacted. For whatever reason though, our barn has really good luck with the lunging thing to get them out of a colic episode.

  4. Colic is such a scary thing. You just never really know what's caused it or even if you're over reacting, which we can all do because of how scary it can be. Sounds to me like you're doing everything right. That's the best anyone can do.

  5. I just posted on this (kind of indirectly) yesterday. I have a 'Slurpee' I give to Honey daily, it gets her supplements in her plus lots of water as well as her psyllium.


    As Rising Rainbow said, it sounds like you're doing everything right. With Laz liking the warm water a heated bucket might be a great early christmas present!

  6. Go with the heated bucket if he likes warm water - that tends to increase water intake. Adding plain (non-iodized) table salt to the feed is a great idea too - you can also sprinkle salt on the hay if you like. Minimize concentrated feeds and maximize forage. Keep him moving. Those are the best things. Weather changes can result in pain just due to pressure changes. Make sure someone's looking in on him frequently.

  7. All good suggestions above!

    I use a heated water bucket.
    I also soak Beet Pulp with a few teaspoons of "non iodized salt" in it(I have a little, covered bucket-marked with a water line)
    when I know that weather is going to change/freeze.
    It takes like 2-3 hours in the summer to completely soak the pellets to mash..in the wintertime...like 4-5 hours- if in a heated tack room(NOT near the heat).
    I use a sm scoop(2 cups) per 6 Cups of water...I ck it and stir it..and when I finally give it to her- I make sure it is sloppy.
    I feed 4 C per meal.
    She LOVES it...sounds like a pig eating it...and licks it off the floor too.

    I originally got the idea FROM the VET...after a colic. He said it would deliver the moisture to the gut system, being moisture.Kinda like us eating APPLE SAUCE..it is mostly moisture! That too is something you can give to horses...too much Suger for him? Ask the Vet.

    The sugar has been soaked outof the B.P., so should not be a problem.

    Soaking hay(with the salt thing) is another thing the vets use to make sure they get moisture =after a colic ..so maybe a little preventitive measure.

    What ever he gets(if he does?) as grain..you may soak it as well.
    That is what a gal did recently for her horse that was sceduled to be put down-for colic..he came aroudn last minute, and they gave all his meals to him SOAKED..grains, hay everything...for like 2 weeks!

    SCAREY, so sorry you had to have that pass-out-sick-feeling.
    Prayers for continued health- through out the wintertime!!
    Sorry this was so long

  8. Totally agree that minimizing concentrates and maximizing forage, keeping warm water available at all times, and encouraging as much movement as possible are the best preventative measures you can take. I've also read that feeding a small amount of apple cider vinegar can prevent enteroliths.
    Personally, I have had a lot of bad luck with colic (with friends' horses and my own), so I take it very seriously. I always get the horse out and walk it around for a while, and maybe give some Banamine and see if that helps. But if it goes past the mild discomfort stage, I always call the vet. (It could be enteritis, too, ya never know.) I wouldn't give the horse anything because, if there's an impaction or the intestines are swollen from enteritis, that will just make things worse.
    Just a side not about bran mashes -- I know this is one of those "old-school" traditions that is ingrained into horse owners, but they really are NOT good for horses. Such a drastic change to the horse's diet (they're usually given once a week) irritates the gut, causes an imbalance of the healthy bacteria in the intestines, and actually has NO laxative effect. (I think there were some other negatives to it, as well, but it's been a while since I've done any reading on the subject!)

  9. My colic preventative measures include a complete pelleted grain and high-forage diet. I feed soaked beet pulp (shredded variety soaks quickly,no molasses) with the grain and hay. I feed ABC's Plus prebiotics daily supplement and Sand Clear for the first week of each month. Reducing stress is as important as feeding. My horse gets 24/7 turnout with a buddy and regular exercise.

    The horse's digestive system is always on, so it is best not to let them go empty. If I could add anything it would be to divide his meals into three feedings or allow free-choice forage, but since I board, this is currently not an option.

  10. Wow! Great tips everyone..thank you! :)
    Yes, Laz is 24/7 turnout and has stall/shelter access as well so his lifestyle should be quite stress free. His meals are spread into min of 3 daily if not more..the BO's do a great job of having the horses constantly 'grazing' on their hay. Laz eats grass hay mostly, and only gets a small amount of Trip Crown L/S.
    Tonight, I went to see him-he looked great! I made him a Slurpee (thanks Karla) of warm water, 1/2 cup of his L/S, salt, and some shredded hay and carrots which he inhaled. I'll keep watching him.

  11. From losing my old girl nearly 2 years ago on Saturday to colic I know signs like the horse still eating/drinking are not always accurate indicators. Naigen still ate even though her gut was twisted. We knew we were going to lose her and it was not fair to have to take her to do surgery as old as she was. We gave her what she wanted to eat and she ate several banana's, apples and carrots before we laid her to rest.
    Having said that always, always, always take vital signs. They are your first indicators, especially gut noises you should hear with a stethoscope every 30 seconds, definite ones not just faint gurgling.
    Sometimes horses can colic because of pain. One mare at my one barn every fall when it gets cold colics. She colics because she is in pain from her arthritic hocks. She goes off her feed, rolls around, bites her sides etc. I administer 20cc's as recommended by the vet of banamine and an hour later shes fine.

    If you give him beet pulp make sure its the kind without the molasses.
    The reason of giving bran/beet pulp is for giving him water right? Because that is a myth giving it to make their manure loose. See I learned this when I took equine nutrition theres a lot of myths out there about feeding, especially feeding bran once a week will keep a horse "regular". The result of the loose manure with a once weekly bran mash is because of mild digestive upset. Bran has many times less the fiber in it than hay does. Horses require much more fiber than humans do, thus a human eating a cup of bran does a lot more in the digestive department than it does for horses. Make sense? I made a post on my blog about nutrition myths.
    I found mixing apple juice or molasses with water can make them drink. I also always keep banamine on hand for colic/pain situations.

  12. I have heard that if the horse is colicking to load it up with psyllium and get it to drink lots of water. The gel-ing the psyllium does in the gut helps to moisten the intestines and get them flowing again. Thats what I've heard, have never (knocking on wood) had to try it.

  13. Pie was acting weird about a week ago. No gut sounds and I was alarmed. We had ridden for 40 minutes and I allowed him to graze in a too fresh patch of very green clover. Manure did move through, and it looked normal, so I was relieved about that. My farrier was due to come in 30 minutes so I just started walking Pie around the driveway. I didn't push him to walk fast - more just a slow ramble. When my farrier got there, still no gut sounds. Then, while Pie was getting trimmed, I could tell he started to relax. He also drank a good amount for me, so I turned him back out and watched him for a few hours. Scary, but it worked out ok. My first old-timer instinct is slow walking. I know that isn't always the answer, but it does help things move sometimes.

  14. I can't remember if I already recommended ProBios to you or not, so sorry if I'm repeating myself:) I really do think it's great for overall gut health, and it brought Miles' appetite "back"...like, he ate before it, but after he cleaned his pail and looked for more:). It was recommended to me by a couple people I know who've had good luck with it, as well as New Vocations. It's also SUPER cheap, as supplements go.

  15. Hey M.O.M-I would LOVE to do ProBios but being it's like a yogurt base my vet thought to not. I put Laz on Uckele's GUT last Dec and he broke out in HIVES after 2 days. Eek. I guess Hives mean there is something they are allergic to (DUH) but that it's been in their system before. Meaning a new product wont cause hives but if there is something they have had issues with before, it can come out in hives.
    So...I dont think I can do it for him.
    High maintenance belly...YES.

  16. I have a 17yo OTTB mare with a history of ulcers. She's a seasoned eventer, but I've just put her back into work after nearly two years off. (I've had her since February '10 and we went back into work in August) Two weeks ago she colicked; fortunately the vet was already here checking on an old pony!!! The weather had just taken a drastic turn cold, but he thought there was a good chance it was her ulcers acting up. I had been giving her one cup of Fruit of the Earth brand aloe juice (it has no added sugars or anything) because our horses were only being fed grain once daily. (they are turned out from 6am until 7pm with free-choice hay off round bales, stalled at night with two flakes of hay each) I'm now feeding her twice a day, each time with a cup of aloe juice. I feed her 1.5qt of Seminole Wellness Calm & Cool 2x/day now--we bought a house adjacent to the barn!!! It seems to have calmed her stomach and she's been happy as ever. Her long-time owner tried everything from Ugard to Neighlox and some other really expensive ulcer treatments, but, even in heavy work, the aloe juice worked better than anything else. And it's super inexpensive.

    Good luck getting all that sorted out! That "oh no" feeling when you see them doing the "colic dance" is a horrible, horrible feeling I hope we avoid from here on out!!

  17. He is such a cutie!! Even covered in dried mud.

    I hope he's feeling better and that you haven't had anymore episodes. I wouldn't worry too much since he's eating, drinking and pooping. :)

    *runs off to read next post*