Colic can be a painful problem for your horse and preventing colic before it starts is easy and effective. Signs of colic are: biting at the flanks or abdomen, kicking at the belly, lying down, pacing, pawing, rolling, standing with legs stretched out, straining, sweating profusely, and swishing the tail violently. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to contact your vet right away. To prevent colic in your horse, it is important to follow these easy tips:
Preventing Colic in your horses can be as simple as following a disciplined schedule. As you may know, colic is still considered the number one killer of horses in the United States and has a wide spectrum of severity.
Colic can become a life-threatening condition quickly and should never be ignored.
- Follow a routine – the same time every day. (especially important is feeding and exercise schedules).
- Energy-dense supplements have been linked to colic and should be avoided or at the very least monitored heavily.
- Half of your horse’s diet should be from forage each day.
- Frequent feedings with smaller rations helps in the battle against colic.
- Hay should be fed throughout the day.
- A regular parasite program should be maintained.
- Fresh, clean, water should be available at all times.
- Horses still warm from exercise should not be allowed to drink excessive amounts of cold water.
- Horses should not be fed on the ground but rather in feeders.
- Hay bedding and pasture should be monitored for weeds and materials that may be toxic.
- Pay special attention to stress in your horse’s environment – stress is directly linked to colic.
Salt blocks are a great way to give your horse additional minerals to help supplementÂ his or her daily diet.Â In addition to giving your horse more minerals, salt blocks are ideal for keeping your horse entertained in the stall and preventing stall boredom.Â There are a variety of great salt blocks available for horses and installing a salt block is easy.Â Once you have installed a salt block in the pasture or in the stall, your horse will enjoy licking it to get the minerals he or she needs at theÂ amountÂ he or sheÂ desires.
A great salt block to use is theÂ Hilton Herbs Himalayan Salt Lick.Â This saltÂ block is easy to hang on a post in the pasture or in your horse’s stall and contains sodium, iron, potassium, magnesium and other essential nutrients.Â Hilton Herbs salt blocks are made to be weather resistant, so they can be left outside in the pasture and have a hole in the center for hanging.
Another essential salt lick is the Himalayan Horse Rock Salt Lick.Â This salt block is available in a variety of sizes and includes a rope for hanging.Â When your horse licks this salt block, heÂ or she will get a variety of essential nutrients, while enjoyingÂ the great taste.Â These salt blocks are also weather resistant and can be left outside in the elements without melting away.
For better horse digestion, you may want to try the Himalayan Horse Black Rock.Â This salt block contains sulfur, which is great for improving your horse’s digestion and acts as a natural horse laxative.Â It also contains a variety of natural herbs and extracts to help keep your horse healthy.
Choose a salt block that best suits the needs of your horse.Â If you are giving your horse a salt block for the first time, place one in his or her stall first to see how well your horse likes it.Â Once your horse starts licking, he or she is sure to enjoy passing time licking the salt block.Â For a variety of salt block and salt block products, check out Shane’s Tack.
What is it about springtime that seems to increase the incidence of colic in horses?
No one knows for sure, but various studies indicate that changes in pasture conditions and management are the prime contenders. Here are the factors that may contribute to spring colic:
- Lush spring pasture ( can cause spasmodic or ï¿½gasï¿½ colic)
- Internal parasites (especially the small strongyles, or cyathostomes)
- Showing (and all of the stresses and changes in routine that go along with it)
In horses that have been confined during the winter, gradually increase their grazing time over a 2-3 week period, rather than suddenly turning them out into lush spring pasture for several hors at a time. In horses that are on pasture year-round, put out some hay until the grass matures a little. Horses on spring pasture often eat a surprising amount of hay when it is provided, which indicates that they probably need it as a supplemental dry matter source.
- Internal parasites, especially the large and small strongyles, may contribute to spring colic for two reasons.
The numbers of infective larvae on the pasture increase as the days warm up.
- Encysted small strongyle larvae often emerge from the lining of the bowel all at once at the start of the grazing season, which can cause colic and/or diarrhea.
- Ivermectin and several other dewormers are effective against adult strongyles and the later stage larvae. But only two currently available dewormers claim to be effective against encysted small strongyle larvae:
Moxidectin at the recommended doses and schedule
Fenbendazole when twice the standard dose is given each day for 5 days (i.e. double-dose for 5 days)
When to use a larvicidal treatment such as these depends on your geographical locations, pasture management, and deworming program. However, it can be given at any time, including early spring.
Avoiding Colic in Broodmares
The incidence of colic in broodmares increases in the last few months of pregnancy and the first few weeks after foaling. Broodmares are subject to the same types of colic found in other horses; most common are spasmodic/gas colic, lare colon impaction (blockage with feed material). And large colon displacement ( in which the large colon moves out of position). The most important management strategies for preventing these conditions in any horse include the following:
- Keep grain-based concentrates (grain in any form, grain-based sweet feed and pellets, etc.) to a minimum for that horseï¿½s needs.
- Feed plenty of high-quality roughage (good quality hay and/or pasture). Poor quality roughage is one of the more common factors in large colon impactions.
- Ensure ample access to fresh, clean water at all times. Reduction in water intake is another common factor in large colon impactions. Mares in peak lactations require much greater amounts of water than other horses, so make sure the mare has plenty of water, and preferably more than one water source.
- Provide as much pasture turnout as possible, for both roughage intake and exercise. Large colon impactions seem to be more common in horses that are confined.
- Maintain an effective deworming program.
Not every case of colic can be prevented. But by applying these simple management strategies, many cases of spring colic can be avoided.