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Horse Colic

Common initial signs of horse colic

The first signs of horse colic you may see are uneasiness and a personality change. The horse may be uninterested in food or drink, and may act sleepy or dull. The temperature may be slightly higher than normal, but the respiration and pulse will usually be normal.

Later on, the horse may swish its tail, stomp a hind leg, turn and look at its belly, or nip its sides. It may also roll its eyes, snort, or groan. As the pain increases, the horse may kick its belly and lie on the ground and stretch. It may also stretch as if to urinate, or may make attempts to defecate with no success or may have diarrhea. It may roll lightly, get up and walk in circles, then lie down and roll again. It may also walk aimlessly into fences or walls as the discomfort of equine colic increases.

As the colic in horses worsens, the horse may bite its sides, kick and thrash, and may roll madly. NEVER let a colicing horse roll, because it could twist an intestine and cause serious injury! Try to get the horse up, even if it means yelling at or hitting the horse. Be VERY CAREFUL- a colicing horse in severe pain doesn't care what or who you are, it may step on you or crush you accidentally. During this time, the horse's only focus is trying to rid itself of pain, and it won't be aware of its surroundings. It may walk into walls or fences or step on things. You should catch it and, if it is rolling, make it stand; then, proceed to walk it for about 15 minutes.

Clinical signs of horse colic:

  • Pawing and/or scraping
  • Stretching
  • Frequent attempts to urinate
  • Flank watching: turning of the head to watch the stomach and/or hind quarters
  • Biting/nipping the stomach
  • Pacing
  • Repeated flehmen response
  • Repeated lying down and rising
  • Rolling
  • Groaning
  • Excess salivation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Decreased fecal output
  • Increased pulse rate
  • Dark mucous membranes

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.

psyillium plant

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.