Do you know what to do–and just as importantly, what not to do–if your horse displays vague, mild, or serious signs of what might be colic? Your answer could save your horse’s life.
By Marcia King
The changes indicating colic were subtle but nevertheless concerning. Rufus, a Thoroughbred/Warmblood jumper, wasn’t himself, recalls owner Sydney Durieux of New York City. “Rufus was always attentive, playful almost, wrapping his neck around you and giving you a kind of hug, straining his neck to reach you,” she describes. But that evening Rufus ignored Durieux and just stared, looking distracted and vaguely uncomfortable. “He wasn’t swaying, pawing, or looking at his stomach, but when the trainer listened to Rufus’ belly, she couldn’t detect any sounds,” she says.
After a half-hour, Durieux trailered him to a veterinary hospital an hour away. “Both the trainer and I thought we might be overreacting, but our hunch was right: The veterinarian said Rufus had colic and needed immediate surgery,” she says. “I was shocked, because every other horse I’d seen with colic had been very distressed.”
Sometimes it’s pretty obvious something is painfully wrong and the veterinarian should be summoned. Other times mild clinical signs might accurately reflect a mild colic that easily and quickly responds to minimal management without a vet even seeing the horse. Then there are those times when mild clinical signs don’t indicate the severity of a problem that could result in death if treatment is delayed.
Do you know what to do–and just as importantly, what not to do–if your horse displays vague, mild, or serious signs of what might be colic? How do you handle the situation? Actions to take/avoid with your horse’s recovery plan? How to minimize the risk for colic in the first place?
The following are 33 tips to use as guidelines...