The Magazine April 2018

Your colic questions answered

Posted 12th June 2020

Join Hannah-Sophie Chapman for her comprehensive guide to colic as she answers your burning questions

Colic’s a term brandished by equine enthusiasts across the world, but how many of us fear something we actually know very little about? To better equip you with all the essential know-how, Hannah-Sophie gets to the guts of the problem.

What is colic?

Colic is a descriptive term used to explain that a horse is experiencing abdominal pain – it’s not a diagnosis. Liken it to human heartburn from acid reflux, abdominal cramps after ingesting seafood past its use-by date or excruciating pain when trying to pass kidney stones. They all cause abdominal pain, but have different sources and associated diagnoses. If these patients were horses, they’d be presented to vets as suffering from colic – though in reality they’re each suffering from different ailments. We can pinpoint the majority of colic cases to the gastrointestinal system. However, the impact, treatment options, cost and prognosis of colic wildly varies.

How can I prepare?

Good preparation gives your horse the best chance of success should he colic. Each aspect of his digestive system provides a unique opportunity for things to go wrong so, to best prepare, ask yourself the following questions…

  • can I recognise signs that my horse isn’t quite right?
  • do I know who to call for help?
  • is referral to an equine hospital an option and, if so, how will I transport my horse there?
  • what’s my budget?
  • is my horse insured and what does my policy cover?
  • is colic surgery an option?

Top tip

Make sure you know your horse’s usual appetite, his faecal output and consistency, rest patterns and normal levels of alertness. Being familiar with his habits will help you spot anything unusual.

To find out more about colic and how to spot the signs, get your copy of August Horse&Rider out now

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