Firsthand experience with enteroliths
I live in Southern California and have firsthand experience with enteroliths, so I anxiously read anything that is printed on the subject (“What to Do About Enteroliths,” EQUUS 481).
My first introduction to the subject came in 1978, when my 8-year-old Morgan gelding managed to pass the large stone in the middle row (see photograph, top), with a great deal of difficulty, after four days. The smaller ones were found in his manure. In one 24hour period, he passed 27 small stones. The two large stones on the top shelf were removed from him surgically in 1994 at the age of 24. He passed away of unrelated causes at the age of 31.
All of the stones on the bottom shelf were surgically removed from my 5-year-old Arabian mare. She came through the surgery just fine but experienced other complications and never made it home from the hospital.
After my experience with these two horses I did a lot of research, and I totally changed my feeding program. I had always fed hay in feeders that sat on rubber mats, but I stopped feeding alfalfa at all. Now, all my horses eat grass hay. They also have extensive turnout and are exercised regularly.
I have had several Morgans since, who are one of the more affected breeds, and I have not had any further problems with enteroliths. Small management changes can make a big difference, and in areas prone to stone development like Southern California, they are well worth looking into. This is a serious and painful problem for our horses, and we have it in our power to minimize the risk for them. Curtis Merritt Ontario, California