Was Sure My Horse Had Colic
 By Saferaphus   •   17th Feb 2018   •   181 views   •   1 comments

My motherís stable, where I keep my horse, is filled with young Thoroughbreds who will shortly be heading for the track. While they are all horses, there are some differences in how race horses and riding horses are kept, especially pleasure horses who arenít expected to do more than provide a fun and relaxing ride. How they are fed is one crucial difference. A typical twenty-one year old horse may need a bit more nutrition than a mature horse, but they donít need the same type of diet as a young horse going into its first season of racing.

My horse is on pasture board, which means she has pasture space, hay, water and shelter provided. But if I want her to have any extras, I have to provide it myself. So, when I saw that she was a little down in condition last summer, I started bringing her grain once a day. She has always been a very easy keeper, and it was probably the heat and bugs that were driving her down, but Iíve kept up the Ďsomething extraí just in case. The added benefit to this is that I now have a horse that runs to me when she sees me. Thatís kinda fun.

Anyway, last week, I went over to give to feed her grain, and she didnít eat with her customary greedy appetite. I had changed from sweet feed to a pelleted feed a few days before because with the cold weather the sweet feed was like feeding molasses popsicles. She had appeared to take the change smoothly, but on this day she picked and then left over a third of her meal in the pail. While she was eating, I had taken her blanket off to check her and replaced it. So, I wondered if I had done something that made her uncomfortable. Maybe a strap was binding or something that was now poking her underneath the lining. But, nothing looked wrong.

I let her out, and she strolled to the middle of the paddock, where she stopped and gave two cow kicks, then she pooped. Then she stood there, head down. I went from alarmed to really alarmed. I checked her pulse and nothing seemed unusual. I watched for awhile, but she didnít do anything. She didnít stand with the other horses, nor did she go to the hay feeder as she normally would. I waited some more and nothing happened. Then she pooped again. It looked normal.

Was I looking at a sick horse? How long should I stand out in the cold watching her do nothing?

After watching her do more nothing for awhile more, I decided I should go home and come back after I had my supper. I let my mother know what was going on, and as I live two minutes away, I went home and made a hearty meal. Who knew what type of night I was in for? I might be up past midnight, walking or waiting for a vet. While I cooked and forced myself to eat while planning what vet Iíd call. I worried maybe she was choking and I had missed the signs and would return to find her standing, foaming at the mouth. I worried that maybe this was Ďití. She was colicking and I had taken the signs too lightly and Iíd lose her. By the time I was back in the truck I was full-on colicking myself.

When I returned, there she was, standing with her pasture buddies. When I walked up to her, she looked at me as if to say Ďwhat are you doing hereí. As it turned out, she had basically been eating candy all day before I got there. Some of the young horses were being shuffled around and my horse and a few others got to eat some very rich second cut all afternoon in a paddock they normally weren't allowed in. And, like kids let into the candy shop, they gorged themselves. She had been eating the rocket fuel intended for the young racehorses. Now a change of hay could cause colic. But this time around, it didnít. My vivid imagination did.
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Valkyrie  MOD 
Haha what a story! Horses make fools of us all, don't they?

Identifying colic is my speciality and I've caught numerous Thoroughbred yearlings in early stages before they got full blown colic. It's just something about knowing the horses well enough to know that their behaviour is odd. You spend every day with a horse and you get to know their little routines and their attitude.

I once did a sale with some horses I didn't know, but by day four I thought one of the fillies wasn't acting normal. She was usually quite still in the box and super friendly when you opened the door. But one day she was walking the box and irritated. Everyone just thought a bug had bit her because she was just swishing her tail and not really showing the usual colic signs. But I insisted and one of the managers came to have a look. Sure enough she was beginning to colic and we took her out and walked her for a long time. When she came back in she was back to her happy self and totally fine.

Horses can
  35 days ago  •  228 views
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