Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The truth about colic

Colic is pretty much the biggest fear of all horse owners, because it's so common with horses, as well as because it's so often fatal.  So I was interested to see this article over the weekend:

5 Myths About Colic You May Still Believe

There are a lot of myths about colic, probably because everyone is so afraid of it happening to their horses.

I had already heard that rolling doesn't actually cause twists in their intestines.  I was also skeptical about changes in the weather causing colic -- I figured it was more about their water intake changing when the weather changes.  (Our barn had three horses colic in a week's time a couple years ago when the weather suddenly became very cold, but that was probably because they abruptly stopped drinking as much when their water started freezing.)

The one I have serious misgivings about is the notion that walking doesn't help them.  I know that one of the reasons for walking them is to prevent them from rolling -- which, if rolling doesn't cause twists, is unnecessary.  However, movement also stimulates the digestive system -- in people and dogs as well as in horses -- which seems like it would be immensely helpful with a horse that is colicking, especially if it's something that can pass with a little encouragement, such as a gas colic.

What about you?  Are there any things on this list that surprised you?

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2 Comments:

At July 29, 2015 at 11:14 PM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Well, I think if there is improvement after any effort, the effort is worth it, whether there was a direct correlation or not. Since the veterinary world hasn't brought us much new information on colic, horse owners just have to do what works for them and their horses. My vet found sand in Rock's colon and recommended I give him X number of doses of psyllium, and the next time she listened to his intestines, the seashell sound of sand was gone. I can visibly see that psyllium works as a laxative for horses, offering relief. I know the article doesn't really discourage psyllium, in particular. I do sometimes wonder if some people are putting down horses prematurely because they don't want their horse to be in pain. We, as humans, suffer through childbirth, kidney stones, IBS, and a whole slew of painful conditions, and we usually come out the other end okay. The part about walking a horse with colic was interesting, because I've thought of it as more of a distraction and a way to get things moving, but always felt bad for the horse because all she wanted to do was lie down and rest. The one time I let her rest and didn't insist that she walk around, she was fine in the morning. Also, I'm not convinced that supplements don't work. None of my horses have colicked since I started giving them supplements that contain digestive enzymes. I do think many of the supplements are way overpriced when you consider that there is no "proof" that they work. The article didn't explore one area of interest, which is the correlation between stress and colic. I think that when horses have to compete for food, they are at higher risk for colic. I've tried to be more diligent about making sure that each horse gets the amount of hay and grain that is given to him/her without the threat of another horse taking it away. As a result, all the horses seem happier and more relaxed.

 
At August 8, 2015 at 11:05 AM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

I'm fairly skeptical about supplements myself, in horses as well as in humans. As for stress, we're finding that it has a huge impact on people's bodies, so why not on horses', too? Remember that horse in my corral who was bitten by a rattler last fall? When he came back from the hospital, they put him in a stall, and he promptly colicked.

 

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