Colic

eml

Moderator
Apr 29, 2002
12,809
1,210
113
Leicestershire
www.ivanhoeequestrian.net
I have been invited to a conference at Nottingham University sponsored by WHW in a couple of weeks that is discussing owners ability to recognise colic and what they do eg a call vet immediately or watch, walk or not walk, experiences of treatments and outcomes. I would be grateful if lots of you could give me additional input to my experiences. Message me if you prefer to keep it private or add on this thread. The aim of the conference is to produce guidelines like those for recognising say meningitis. I think the results of this would be invaluable for novice owners and non horsey yard owners.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Trewsers and Gimp

Wally

Well-Known Member
Apr 16, 2000
35,272
4,293
113
Colic is one of those things that manifests in so many different ways. If there was a rash or a tell tale SINGLE sign it would be great as as a poster could be made.

Friend had an Icelandic horse look a bit uncomfy at 8pm. She called the vet the moment she felt the horse was not right. Looked like the early signs of colic, quiet, tucked up, swishing tail, not thrashing or rolling or violently throwing herself about. Vet agreed that the pulse and breathing rate were the giveaway that the horse was in some discomfort. To cut a long story short the horse went downhill so fast that at 10 pm it was agreed to PTS,

The vet was not happy and asked to do a PM at her own expense to see what was going on. At the PM they found the gut had been punctured and the horse was in an advanced state of gangrene and would have been in some pain for a long time, yet the horse hid it.

We had a Welsh D with a bit of trapped wind and yould think he was on death's door.
 
  • Like
Reactions: carthorse and Gimp

lauren123

Well-Known Member
Feb 3, 2007
2,917
974
113
East Yorkshire
The first thing I normally do when I spot the signs of colic in my horse (quieter then normal,hardly eating,not passing anything) would be to walk my horse for around 15 mins and then pop him back in his stable and wait if that helps at all. If not I would give daloin and ring the vet for further advice e.
 

Rubic

Equine Karaoke Queen
Apr 15, 2012
3,774
572
113
Glasgow
Rubic got gassy colic after being turned out in a different small paddock after box rest then small paddock rest in a different field for months. She'd never shown any signs of colic previously. The hunt was also out that morning which may not have helped matters as all the horses were wound up and she had not long gone through lots of antibiotic therapy, an operation etc.

I noticed it when I brought her in. In the field she was still eating and didn't seem uncomfortable in any way. When leading her back to the stable for the night she was very sluggish. She would occasionally appear sluggish coming in from the field so to begin with that wasn't a huge indicator although she hadn't come across sluggish at all while on box rest/small paddock rest. In the stable she began stamping her back legs, kicking her belly and box walking. She then was looking to get down and roll. The stamping and kicking are things she never did normally. She would occasionally box walk or lay down/roll in her stable but never when people were around. So overall the very unusual behaviour and the fact her belly was very bloated looking were key signs. There was a lot of noise coming from her belly. She also passed some very loose droppings (again very unusual for her). I immediately phoned the vets. I don't feel colic is something to be messed with and given I had never dealt with colic before and with all of Rubic's previous (at the time, recent) problems I knew that was the best course of action. The vet said that if she was trying to roll to take her out the stable and walk her round.

The vet came and checked her over, gave her a buscopan injection and pain killer and recommended to keep and eye on her for a few hours. He said that if she improved she could have some of her soaked hay. Luckily she seemed much better and by about midnight I gave her a net and left her, when I came back in the morning she seemed much brighter and within a couple of days she was back to normal with no other episodes. The vet told me that once she was recovered I could reintroduce her to that paddock over the week so she would get 30min in there to start and building up to about 8 hours over the week. I also fed her NAF biotics as I felt the antibiotics had probably disturbed the natural balance in her gut.

We were very lucky that her colic was fairly mild. I've known a couple of horses require surgery and both unfortunately passed (one after at least one round of surgery and a further admission or two to the vet school followed by a third recurrence and another before they managed to operate).
 

Trewsers

Well-Known Member
Oct 13, 2004
50,183
10,135
113
49
On an island
Joe had it twice. Once when we were on a yard and he got left out too long (stressy tb who needed routine). It was awful, OH was riding him and he just went down. We rang vet asap. We walked him round the indoor arena on YO and vets advice. Vet came administered buscopan and we stayed with J until about midnight. Went home for soup came back and stayed until 3am - he was so poorly. He lay down with us in his box and groaned. Vet came back out again and then at 7am we sighed with relief as he had done two poops. Vet advised us to give him some bran mash which we did and carefully monitor.
We all think that it was due to the stress of being left out long after he should have been brought in. There was a lot going on that day on the yard - another horse was being pts so it was quite busy for the staff hence J getting left out. I don't blame them in any way, it was just one of those things. He really needed quite a strict routine as we later found out. At that point he'd only been with us six months.
Then he got colic again when we moved them home to live. My vet had just been to give them both a once-over after the move and he was fine and dandy. She had literally got down the lane when he groaned and went down in the field outside his shelter. I rang her and she came back asap - gave him painkiller and told us to monitor. It was only mild that time and he was fine within a couple of hours. I think the stress and excitement of the move upset him because we hadn't changed his feed or anything. I even bought hayledge from the yard to start with, in a bid to keep his tummy happy!
 

Chrisnscully

Banned
Aug 11, 2007
1,297
128
63
Scully usually gets colicy symptoms when a change of field coincides with her seasons - she is usually standing very quiet in the field looking sorry for herself and starts pawing or biting at her tummy once stabled. I always call the vet immediately to let them know, give her 4 units of Sedalin, a sachet of bute and 6 Buscopan tablets crushed in water, walk her round for 20 minutes and wait with her for an hour - she usually goes quiet and then starts looking for food and I give her a flake of soaked hay. I do let her lay down if she is quiet - not if she tries to roll. If she is still showing symptoms after the hour then the vet comes and gives her a Buscopan injection and stronger sedative.

This treatment has been developed with the vets - they came out to her on several occasions and never found any impaction, she passes droppings normally and is always right as rain the following day.

I now give her a prebiotic supplement to help her gut bacteria and we haven't had as many instances of the symptoms since.
 

Laura_107

Well-Known Member
Oct 15, 2010
2,755
231
83
33
Edinburgh
Last winter I only found 2 poos and a full bucket of water in Kev's stable when I went to muck him out in the morning. Very unlike him though he seemed fine in himself.

I called the vet who said it may just be mild symptoms so keep him in his stable with no food and walk him out for grass for 15 mins every hour, keep an eye on him and see what happens. Luckily that is the closest I've come to colic. Kev was fine, just pissed off that he hadn't been allowed out to the field!
 

Wally

Well-Known Member
Apr 16, 2000
35,272
4,293
113
Years ago, I went to a colic seminar at Ratley Lodge, One vet told a very interesting story of a pony who showed colic and seemed to be in the last stages, and shooting was decided as the only resort, the vet had to go and get his gun, a 10 minute trip in the car and told the owner if the horse wanted to roll let him do whatever he wanted in his last minutes on earth. The horse, according to the owner went crazy and threw himself all over the place, so much so the owner was worried that other injury would occur,
When the vet got back he found a peaceful pony eating hay, pulse and brathing back to normal and whatever had been plaguing the horse had passed and the horse was not shot and lived on without bother.

The vet at the seminar said let them roll, within reason, so long as further injury to humans and the horse was not an issue. ...and having been witness to a horse who was hell bent on rolling and hysterical in his colic, there's bogg all you can do to stop them anyway
 
  • Like
Reactions: carthorse

newforest

Tomorrow can change what happens today
Mar 15, 2008
25,518
8,927
113
A field
In my case the vet didn't recognize it.
Called immediately my pony couldn't walk when he got up in the field. Another horse nudged him to encourage him and she was a bully, alarm bells went off!
For us he shouldn't have been alive, he had gone through the pain barrier, the body was starting to poison itself and he had drunk so much to try and shift the blockage himself he was refluxing. Vet suspected grass sickness.
Recalled vet two hours later who diagnosed colic and we went off to vet, he didn't show any classic signs, no sweating, no looking round. It was only went they drained all the water out of him he did. His stomach could have burst any second!
At the time he was a case study because they had never had a pony still be standing up this sick. We opted for surgery purely because he was fighting so much to keep going.
Sadly six weeks later he lost his fight due to a spasmodic episode. Some people think if their horse has a spasmodic colic that if they poo then its fine, not always. Poop doesn't mean all is well. If I suspect colic, I get the vet sod the bill, it can kill.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Gimp

Wally

Well-Known Member
Apr 16, 2000
35,272
4,293
113
Agree with NF, we had a horse with spasmodic colic that went on and off, for 3 days. Never did put a finger on the cause.

Colic is a symptom of so many causes. A lot of vets think the torsion occurs whether they roll or not, all depends on the underlying cause and there are as many causes as there are reactions in individual horses, that's why it's such a demon.

Colic for us means the vet,
 

Wally

Well-Known Member
Apr 16, 2000
35,272
4,293
113
Another tale. A friend's horse who he keeps in the hill park over at Frances' was discovered when Frances went to check them, absolutely dripping wet, soaked from head to toe. The tell tale evidence on the ground was that he had rolled, and rolled and rolled and churned up the ground alarmingly.

The owner was away, so Frances got him down to the house and sat and watched him for the rest of the day, no more episodes of rolling or symptoms were observed, but it was quite plain he had rolled and rolled violently again and again. She consulted the vet and they agreed there was little a vet could do if the horse was showing no signs of any illness. He's been fine since.

Another time one of the horses was caught up from the field, and immediately waters churned, she got into the indoor school and with a mighty groan, lay down and was in obvious distress, she kept rolling gently, then lying flat, getting up, lying down and grunting. The vet was summoned. Took him 20 minutes to arrive....to find a symptomless horse pulling at a haynet, alert and happy. Thankfully he could see the flat patches in the sand on the school floor, to prove she had been distressed.
 

newforest

Tomorrow can change what happens today
Mar 15, 2008
25,518
8,927
113
A field
The talk I went on the vet said it should be titled why dont horses all get colic, the digestive system is badly designed.
They can't be sick, the stomach produces acid all the time and after I think three hours of no food you get splash back that can lead to ulcers, the digestive system slowly stops working after six and that u bend is the biggest cause of blockages!
Feel free to look up the hours I could be out slightly, it could be less/more time than that.
The list of causes was so vast as well its impossible to avoid, travelling, worming, vaccines, change of routine, change of diet, box rest etc etc.

I know the digestive system shuts down as that was part of the complications, op went well but some of it wasn't working.

Eta they can't belch either, so any trapped air can only go one way.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: carthorse

Chrisnscully

Banned
Aug 11, 2007
1,297
128
63
I read somewhere that it is thought that most domesticated horses have stomach ulcers!

Oh - on colic symptoms I also remember an article that suggested that if a horse doesn't shake after a roll in the field it can be an indicator of colic.
 

Gimp

Gimpy Gimp Gimp
Jan 19, 2005
12,875
2,182
113
that wouldnt surprise me from being on a livery yard, seeing how long horses are left without hay overnight/long periods. From doing late night checks it was shocking what a large majority of horses had finished nets/hay on floor by 9pm. Often falling on deaf ears to owners.
 

KP nut

I'd rather be riding.
Dec 22, 2008
6,593
5,394
113
Totally agree Gimp - I used to find it so ironic that I was accused of being cruel because my hairy native ponies were out all winter whereas the 'properly looked after' horses were being brought in at around 4pm when it got dark and sometimes left in till 9 or 10 the following morning - up to 18 hours stood in a stable with a haynet that was finished after about 1-2 hours!
 
  • Like
Reactions: newforest and Gimp

Wally

Well-Known Member
Apr 16, 2000
35,272
4,293
113
Interestingly I was chatting to my vet the other day while we were riding out, on our two hairy neglected, field kept horses, and she said she has found a link between colic and horses who are kept on a rigid regime. She thought routines were bad for horses and they were much better off fed at staggered times. If there was a break in routine that was unavoidable this is when the molly coddled horses went down with colic.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Gimp

Trewsers

Well-Known Member
Oct 13, 2004
50,183
10,135
113
49
On an island
Trouble is, if you inherit a horse that has been kept in a very strict routine, how do you break it without detriment to the horse? I tried to keep J out for longer periods, doing it gradually and varying feed times but he would work up into such a lather we feared it was not worth it.
 

lauren123

Well-Known Member
Feb 3, 2007
2,917
974
113
East Yorkshire
I was told if it's safe to do so let them roll. I agreed with others. I generally feed late or if I have popped back for whatever I sometimes check on others and again I am amazed by how many horses either have ran out of hay or only have a quarter left at 9pm! I would rather give my horse more hay them not enough given sox is a poor doer anyway