Return to Free Guides

How to Help Your Horse Survive Colic: Advances in diagnosis and treatment increase your horse’s chances for a swift and complete recovery

How to Treat Your Horse's Troublesome Tummy Ache

How to Help Your Horse Survive Colic: Advances in diagnosis and treatment increase your horse's chances for a swift and complete recovery

Learn how to treat your your colicky horse and how to help him recover quicker. Download our FREE guide How to Help Your Horse Survive Colic: Advances in diagnosis and treatment increase your horse's chances for a swift and complete recovery.

Click the button below and we'll send you a download link to your copy of this FREE guide and we'll also notify you by email whenever we post new tips!

Please provide your name and email address to download this free guide.

All fields are required.

Download your FREE report on colic in horses from MyHorse Daily and learn how to safeguard your horse against colic and quicken his recovery from colic.

MyHorse Daily Managing Editor

MyHorse Daily Managing Editor

I knew just enough about horse colic symptoms to panic when my mare refused her supplements.

Since refusing feed is one of the signs of colic in horses, I immediately jumped to conclusions when I offered the bowl of supplements and she merely lipped them. This, from a mare who always gobbled her food!

Horse hooves.

Would you know what to do if your horse colicked?

I stared hard at her and tried to recall all the signs of colic in horses: sweating, pawing and rolling. No, she did not show any of those horse colic symptoms. But in addition to not eating her food, she just didn’t look right to me. And then she wandered away from the rest of her herd and stood off by herself looking miserable, and that’s when I remembered something I had read in EQUUS magazine about signs of colic in horses:

“A horse in the initial stages of colic develops a mildly anxious, preoccupied look. His eyes are not focused on his surroundings, and he may separate himself from the herd or not react immediately to activity around him. In addition, he may wrinkle his nose or purse his lips. The base of his ears or the fold of his flank may be damp.

“Closely watch a horse exhibiting these horse colic symptoms. Colic in horses can become full-blown with the next half-hour, and you’ll be able to take action immediately. If his condition doesn’t worsen but you are still uncertain about him after two hours, call your veterinarian and apprise him of the situation.”

So I hit the horse colic panic button and called the vet. And, don’t you know it, by the time he arrived, she looked fine, and was no longer showing any horse colic symptoms. I felt a little foolish, but from the scary stories I’ve heard about horse colic, I figured it was better to be safe than sorry.

So how much do you know about horse colic symptoms, or horse colic treatment? See below for our free guide.

But first, speaking of horse colic stories, here’s an inspirational one about a horse who had to have emergency colic surgery. It’s a good example that horse colic doesn’t always have to end in tragedy.

A Colic Surgery Success Story
By Robby Johnson

It wasn’t stress that put 12-year-old international three-day-event horse RG Renegade (“Reggie”) under the knife for colic surgery. It was a strangulating lipoma: a benign fatty tumor wrapped around a portion of the Selle Français/Thoroughbred gelding’s small intestine.

It was November 2001, and according to owner Colleen Hofstetter of Mars, Pennsylvania, Reggie couldn’t have been in a better place at the time.

“He had a break in his schedule after the Burghley CCI in England, so on his return to the States, he went directly to USET veterinarian Dr. Brendan Furlong’s clinic in Oldwick, New Jersey, for a routine checkup. He had a sarcoid on his foot; that was one of the things I wanted examined. I now joke that the sarcoid–which has always bothered me, but not him–probably saved his life.”

Do You Know the Signs of a Colicking Horse?

How to Help Your Horse Survive Colic: Advances in diagnosis and treatment increase your horse's chances for a swift and complete recovery

We share the symptoms of a colicky horse and what to do before the vet arrives. Download our FREE guide How to Help Your Horse Survive Colic: Advances in diagnosis and treatment increase your horse's chances for a swift and complete recovery.

Click the button below and we'll send you a download link to your copy of this FREE guide and we'll also notify you by email whenever we post new tips!

Please provide your name and email address to download this free guide.

All fields are required.

Shortly after 2 p.m. on the 11th, Colleen got a call. A vet tech had gone into the clinic for afternoon check and found Reggie thrashing and pawing so violently that the barn aisle was as full of bedding as a stall.

“By 6 p.m., Dr. Furlong called to say they were taking Reggie into surgery. They called again at midnight to say they’d removed the tumor and about 10 feet of intestine, and the prognosis looked good. But the next morning Reggie was still experiencing intense pain and producing no gut sounds” (they’re an indication of normal gut motility), “so they took him back into surgery to see if they’d somehow missed some damaged bowel. That’s when I got in my car and drove six hours to New Jersey.”

After back-to-back major surgeries, Reggie “was so exhausted he lay on the floor for four hours without moving, which paralyzed a nerve on one side of his face. The paralysis resolved itself over the course of about three months, but it added to the intensity of his recovery. He was pretty pathetic to look at. And when he finally started eating and drinking, he dribbled food and water from that side of his mouth.”

His first “solid meal”? A handful of warm bran mash. Over the next month, Colleen prepared for bringing Reggie home, learning to use a stethoscope to check his heart rate and respirations and to listen for gut noises in the four quadrants of his abdomen. On December 10, Reggie was released to go home and continue to heal.

The plan was to limit him to stall rest and 20-minute turnouts in a very small enclosed area, “but Reggie is a real horse,” says Colleen. “He requires herd mates and extended turnout. As soon as he figured out where he was, he insisted–by running up and down the paddock and jumping out of stalls–on having a normal life.”

Concedes Dr. Stacey Kent (the vet from Dr. Furlong’s staff who attended Reggie), “If your horse is going bananas on stall rest, it’s really not rest. You have to work with him until you find a balance where he’s peaceful and content.”

Parasites and dehydration and sand; Oh My! How to Prevent Horse Colic

How to Help Your Horse Survive Colic: Advances in diagnosis and treatment increase your horse's chances for a swift and complete recovery

From parasites to sand; impaction to pregnancy. Colic in horses can be caused by a variety of things, but responding quickly will give your horse the best odds to recover. Download our FREE guide How to Help Your Horse Survive Colic: Advances in diagnosis and treatment increase your horse's chances for a swift and complete recovery.

Click the button below and we'll send you a download link to your copy of this FREE guide and we'll also notify you by email whenever we post new tips!

Please provide your name and email address to download this free guide.

All fields are required.

One month later, Reggie got a clean bill of health. Colleen enlisted a friend’s help to drive the horse 20 hours (with frequent stops, including an overnight at a “horse hostel” in North Carolina) to Ocala, Florida, and the farm of his regular rider, Darren Chiacchia. The purpose wasn’t to start Reggie back on an eventing career–everyone was just hoping he’d survive–but to continue his recovery in a warm environment.

To strengthen Reggie’s abdominal wall, his vet had prescribed a walking regimen, starting with 15-minute daily sessions on the hot-walker and working up to an hour a day over a month. Afternoon hacks were then added; within 60 days, Reggie was walking a total of two hours a day. After a month of this schedule with no complications, he went back into work with Darren.

In April 2002, six months after his surgery, Reggie finished fifteenth at Rolex Kentucky. In September, he finished thirty-fifth at the World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain.

Though Reggie is unlikely to colic again, Colleen is taking no chances. “I used to monitor colic by the ‘visibly thrashing about’ method,” she says. “Now I have my stethoscope and thermometer on me at all times.”

Amy Herdy
Amy Herdy
MyHorse Daily Managing Editor

Get Your Horse Back In the Saddle after Colic Surgery

How to Help Your Horse Survive Colic: Advances in diagnosis and treatment increase your horse's chances for a swift and complete recovery

Getting your horse safely back in shape after colic surgery can be tricky, but we show you how to do it efficiently in our FREE guide How to Help Your Horse Survive Colic: Advances in diagnosis and treatment increase your horse's chances for a swift and complete recovery.

Click the button below and we'll send you a download link to your copy of this FREE guide and we'll also notify you by email whenever we post new tips!

Please provide your name and email address to download this free guide.

All fields are required.

Your email address is safe. When you sign up, you’ll be able to
access our library of free guides
. MyHorse Daily will not sell, rent or disclose your email address to third parties without your consent.