WHILE WAITING FOR THE VETERINARIAN
When your horse is colicking, it can be nerve-racking to watch him suffer while waiting for your veterinarian to arrive. Your impulse, of course, is to try to make your horse more comfortable, perhaps by giving him some leftover Banamine or another painkiller—but that’s a bad idea. You can mask the horse’s pain and reduce his fever so that the veterinarian cannot accurately assess the severity of his condition. Instead, focus on doing the following:
Chances are, your colicking horse won’t be interested in eating or drinking anyway, but anything he consumes will only increase the pressure behind an impaction. appropriate. It’s a myth that all horses with colic must be walked. If your horse is standing or lying quietly, just leave him alone. Also, if your horse is agitated or thrashing, keep your distance until help arrives; pain severe enough to make a horse violent isn’t likely to be eased by walking anyway.
Another possibility to consider is that your horse’s pain may be the result of something other than colic. Horses with conditions like low-level laminitis or hoof abscesses can look like they are colicking, but walking will only aggravate their pain.
That said, a colicking horse who is restless, getting up and down repeatedly, or attempting to roll may benefit from handwalking to help focus his mind and settle him down. In some cases, a little walking may help the horse to pass a gas bubble or impaction that is causing a milder colic. But pay attention: If walking seems to make the horse’s pain worse, or if he is reluctant to move, then don’t force him.
like pulse, temperature and rate of breathing can give your veterinarian valuable clues to your horse’s condition. If your horse will allow you to do so safely, check his vital signs every few minutes. Make notes of your readings, along with the time you took them. Also jot down observations such as unusual behaviors, increased sweating, etc. Collect and save any manure
he passes. Your veterinarian may want to examine it and possibly take samples for testing. Prepare for a trip to the hospital.
If your veterinarian suggests that your horse’s life depends on emergency surgery, his chances for survival will be much greater if the procedure is not delayed. While waiting for the veterinarian, hook up your trailer or start making calls to friends if you need to borrow one. Also gather insurance information, Coggins papers, your phone and charger, and anything else you might need. slower gut motility---the speed with which ingested food moves through the intestine---than do horses kept on pasture. And it is well established that horses who spend more time in stalls are more likely to colic than are those who are turned out. The continuous exercise from walking and grazing helps to keep the contents of the gut moving smoothly.
Even throughout the winter, let your horse have as much turnout as weather permits. Separating hay feeders and water sources by some distance will encourage horses to keep moving even when grazing is limited. But use your best judgment if you have older, more infirm horses---you don’t want to make winter even harder on them.
• Encourage hay dunking. A water bucket full of hay is a headache at chore time, but consider it a worthwhile mess. It means your horse is hydrating in a healthy way. Don’t try to discourage this behavior; just keep scrubbing that bucket.
• Control internal parasites. A heavy parasite burden can damage a horse’s intestinal walls, causing a number of health issues including an increased risk of impaction colic. Your veterinarian can help you devise an appropriate deworming schedule, based on fecal egg counts and other tests, for each horse in your care. Your goal is to protect your horses while also limiting the development of resistance.
A 2011 study from England showed that horses who spend most of their time in stalls have slower gut motility—the speed with which ingested food moves through the intestines—than do those kept on pasture.