Colic is defined as severe abdominal pain. It is a serious condition that can bring down a sturdy horse and also a very common cause of death in equine ;. Colic has several predisposing factors such as;
1. Feeding poor quality feed e.g mouldy feed.
2. Feeding high quantities of grain causing a condition called grain overload.
3. Inadequate exercise
4. Parasites especially helminthes
5. Providing feed that has a lot of sand.
While some cases of colic are caused by known factors, others are idiopathic and their causes unknown.
Some of the common causes of equine colic include;
a) Torsion/Strangulation of the intestines
d) Gastric rupture
e) Gas accumulation
f) Sand accumulation (Sand Colic)
What signs will you see if your horse has colic?
You will see the typical clinical signs of abdominal pain which include;-
a) The horse will be kicking and nipping at their stomach.
b) Restleness and Uneasiness
c) The horse will be rolling on the floor and lying on the back
d) Flank watching
e) Pawing the ground
f) Abnormal posture i.e dog sitting position
g) Sweating accompanied by rapid breathing and rapid heart rate.
h) You may also hear gut sounds, absence of gut sounds is very severe and can cause death.
Your horse might not exhibit all of these signs but only a few.
The horse attempts to relieve itself from pain by rolling on the floor. This could complicate the colic since in the process of rolling the horse could have torsion (twisting) of the intestines.
Management of the condition before the vet arrives;
1. Restrict feed intake as this will only complicate the condition further.
2. Prevent the horse from rolling or lying on its back by keeping it in a standing position to prevent torsion.
3. Try to walk the horse as this encourages bowel movements and may relieve colic due to impaction.
The vet will try to determine the cause of the colic and treat according to the diagnosis.
Meanwhile prevention is better than cure hence:
a) Always feed good quality feed
b) Provide clean and fresh water
c) Provide adequate exercise
d) Keep feed from excess sand contamination and feed horse off the ground.
e) Effective deworming control program