Featured post

4 Exercises to Help Calm a Hot Horse

If there is anyone that can talk about hot horses on a hack, it is me.  My horse Shandy was a complete nightmare on hacks.  He would attem...

Monday, 28 January 2019

How to Tell If Your Horse Has Colic

What Is Colic?

Colic in horses is simply abdominal pain.  Surprisingly, there are over 70 different reasons and illnesses that cause colic.  
It can get a lot worse if not treated immediately as the horse becomes very uncomfortable and can get secondary damage such as an impact in the gut (gut is blocked by food) or extra damage from the horse rolling when he tries to relieve the pain.   
If you think your horse may have an illness or be in a situation that may cause colic you need to watch them carefully.

There are lots of types of colic some of which are as follows -

  • Stomach Distention – Distension from a large amount of hard feed ingested on one meal.
  • Displacement Colic – A Twist in the small intestine.  
  • Impaction Colic – Feed or a foreign object blocks the intestine.   
  • Gas Colic – Gas build up in the stomach and/or intestines.   
  • Spasmodic Colic – Painful contractions in the muscle in the Intestine (like Indigestion for humans)
  • Enteritis Colic – Inflammation in the intestines due to bacteria, too much grain or out of date feed.  

A chestnut horse with a blaze marking looking over a stable door with the background darkened

What are the Symptoms of Colic in Horses?

There are LOTS of symptoms of colic as it is a very common illness and lucky has lots of obvious symptoms.  Here are just a few symptoms for colic.

  • Loss of appetite  
  • Pawing the ground  
  • Heart rate greater than 48 BPM
  • Bloated stomach  
  • Looking at his side or stomach  
  • Depression or looking dull  
  • Kicking his own stomach  
  • Rolling  
  • Fever greater than 101.5  
  • Sweating  
  • Muscles trembling  
  • Standing at the back of the stall
  • Diarrhoea  
  • Grinding his teeth  
  • Dipping the back  
  • Swollen tongue  
  • Curled lips  
  • Standing strangely  
  • Wanting to walk constantly  
  • No gut sounds  
  • Lying down and getting back up  
  • Getting into the position to urinate often  

A bay horse lying down in a big bed of straw in a stable

How is colic treated in horses?

It is important to call a vet immediately if you suspect colic, don't just wait to see if he gets better. While you wait for him to arrive there are some steps you should take to ensure your horse doesn't get worse.
Check all vital signs, if the horse is rolling then walk the horse in hand until the vet arrives.  If he is not rolling then let him rest.
Most horses will be treated with some medicine and a stomach tube.  The stomach tube will be put through the mouth and down to the stomach to relieve gas.  The horse will get a pain killer to stop the pain of the stomach. A small number of horses will need surgery to be treated if they have a blockage, foreign object or a twisted gut.

A white horse wearing a saddle and a rope head collar looking over the stable door while eating hay


I am not a horse trainer or any other equestrian professional.  I only give advice on horsey topics that I have experience as a horse owner in.  Please don't follow my advice without contacting a relevant equestrian professional.  


No comments:

Post a Comment