Friday, May 9, 2008

Avoiding colic in horses

One of things my husband and I have joked about is how virtually everything can potentially make a horse colic. One of those things is an abrupt change in diet, such as grazing on a green pasture for too long when a horse isn't used to it.

Horse colic is usually an intestinal blockage. Milder cases are mainly uncomfortable for the horse while he or she waits to pass the impaction; in more serious cases, the intestines become twisted, preventing the blockage from passing, and sometimes requiring emergency surgery to fix it. In milder cases of colic, the horse is often lunged to keep him on his feet, as rolling can cause the intestines to become twisted.

Because the threat of colic is so serious, Karen is being careful to gradually introduce the horses to the green pasture. She let them graze for 15 or 20 minutes yesterday, and will slowly increase the length of time until they have acclimated to the higher protein content in the grass.

Other things that can cause a horse to colic are an abrupt change to a different type of grain or hay, too much grain, or too many treats. This all depends on how sensitive your horse's digestive tract is, as some horses colic more easily than others — but since it sucks to find out the hard way, it's better to err on the side of caution and always introduce changes gradually into your horse's diet.

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