Regular turnout is one way to prevent colic. | Photo by Jill Fleming
Preventing horse colic is a priority of every horse owner. And to make it easier for you, the editors of Horse&Rider magazine featured this handy checklist by veterinarian Julie Dechant, DVM, MS, DACVS, of the Equine Surgical Emergency and Critical Service at the School of Veterinary Medicine, UC Davis:
Tips to reduce your horse’s risk of many types of colic:
- Feed a high-quality diet on a regular schedule; horses thrive on routines. Provide grazing–a horse’s most natural food source–as much and often as possible.
- Make any changes in your horse’s feed gradually over several days to avoid upsetting your horse’s system.
- Have fresh, clean water of a drinkable temperature available at all times.
- Provide regular deworming and dental care to promote normal function of the digestive tract.
- Give your horse daily exercise, through riding or turnout, to increase his intestinal motility and keep him in a good state of mind.
- Check his environment regularly for toxic plants or substances.
- Minimize stress by avoiding frequent changes to his management or routine.
- If he’s in a sandy environment, place his hay in a feeder or on a rubber mat to avoid his ingesting sand (which can lead to sand colic).
- Ask your vet about other regional colic concerns, such as enterolith (intestinal stone) formation in the sun belt; ileal impaction in the Southeast; and blister beetle toxicity wherever these pests may be present in hay.