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Horse Colic

The Problem… Elusive and Complicated

When your horse doesn't feel well or is in pain, you know it. And when your horse just can’t perform as you know he can, you’re concerned. He is dependent on you to figure out what’s wrong and then fix the problem.

You suspect the problem involves his digestive tract. You ask: Did the horse eat something; maybe the rich, sweet new grass in the pasture? Has he got an accumulation of sand and other material he couldn't digest sitting in his gut? Could it be equine colic or a parasite your horse picked up somewhere along the way? You try to determine the cause and deal with the malady yourself or seek the assistance of a veterinarian. Does this sound familiar?

Horses and ponies face a common problem: the accumulation of foreign material in their gut, like sand, dirt, gravel, grass balls, other undigested matter, toxins and harmful bacteria. Their winding digestive system presents the risk of these accumulated materials becoming trapped in the gut, creating serious health problems including equine colic.

digestion track of horse
  • A Stomach
  • B Intestine
  • C Caecum
  • D Large Colon

We’ve heard some old timers tell of tying the horse down and hitting the horse’s stomach with the flat side of a shovel to break up the mass in its gut. Imagine someone doing that to you when you’re bloated and have a stomachache. That’s got to hurt! And that’s why responsible horse owners do not follow that practice. No one wants to see their horse in distress, let alone cause more!

A healthy horse is a happy horse and if the horse is happy and healthy, he can show better, perform at his peak, and even live longer. As a horse owner, you’re responsible for your horse’s health and happiness. The best way to keep your horse happy is to make sure he is getting what he needs to stay healthy.

Horse owners have a genuine concern for the welfare of their horses. Many lack the opportunity to educate themselves and fully understand the various aspects of nutrition, and the intricacies and costs of feeding. Some horse owners respond primarily to emotion in owning a horse, and endeavor to treat the horse as one of the family, without necessarily understanding the equine need for feeding, nutrition, and supplementation. Many horse owners are large business enterprises familiar with the feeding habits of their horses, and are equally aware of the high incidence and mortality with horse colic and the destructive behavior of laminitis. They are also highly interested in supplements to combat such problems.

The Solution…Simple and Effective

The solution is an ancient yet simple and effective way of cleaning the horse’s digestive system and avoiding colic in horses. Independent research has shown that psyllium husk, as a feed supplement, assists in the control of colic in horses due to sand, endoparasitism, and other maladies resulting from toxins and lesions in the horse’s gut. Steering clear of the equine colic or other problem before they start is optimum. By removing the rubbish, the horse could have a clean digestive system and avoid many future health problems especially equine colic.

Psyllium (Plantain Ovarta) is an annual herb native to Asia, the Mediterranean, and North Africa. It is commercially grown in India and Pakistan. The husk of the psyllium seed contains about 70% fiber, making it one of the highest naturally occurring sources of soluble fiber available. Psyllium husk is a bulk-forming fiber. It acts like a gelatinous and hydroscopic sponge surrounding and removing unwanted foreign material, sand, toxins, and indigestible roughage which settle in the folds, bends and turns of the digestive tract. It is this gel-like property that makes psyllium husk so appealing to horse owners and veterinarians for avoiding colic in horses.

Since 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the use of labeling which specifically identifies psyllium’s potential to lower cholesterol and treat digestive ailments.

Psyllium husk is not new to the market. For many years, horse owners and veterinarians alike have used some form of psyllium husk in the treatment of equine digestive problems including equine colic. Unfortunately, few have seen consistent, long term success.

Through years of research, it has been determined that if psyllium husk is fed too frequently, the animal’s digestive system becomes accustomed to the product, and begins to absorb it into the system. Then the bacteria residing in the animal’s gut will begin to digest the psyllium product, reducing its efficacy as a carrier of foreign materials and toxins that can cause horse colic.

Research has shown that large quantities of psyllium husk, fed in the proper dosage and intervals, will achieve the desired result. It is this proper dosage and intervals that makes the difference between a equine colic protective measure and a futile effort.

The accumulation of sand, dirt and harmful bacteria in the horse’s gut presents the risk of becoming trapped, creating serious health problems including colic in horses.

photo of psyillium

Psyllium is widely used for the health benefits to humans and horses

Research has shown that large quantities of psyllium husk, fed in the proper dosage, will achieve the desired result of helping to avoid colic in horses.