Colic is the number one killer of horses. So what can you do to lessen the chances your horse will be stricken with colic? Here are some care tips that may help. Remember to always consult your vet when making any changes to the care of your horse.
Horses have sensitive digestive systems and quick changes in diet can upset that system. Always make hay and grain changes gradual. Don’t start a new grain at a full ration. Either start with a small amount or break the feeding into several parts throughout the day. Hay changes should be made over several days, or longer, especially if the horse has never had that type of hay.
Your horse should never be without water, unless it is not possible to give them free range access, like traveling in a trailer. While it is easier to monitor water intake if they don’t have automatic waterers, you also don’t want to have your horse be without water if you are not around to monitor their trough. Sometimes, horses play in the water, splash a bunch out, or knock the trough over. Hay and debris should be scooped out and excessive algae or dirt scrubbed off on a regular basis. Give your horse’s the cleanest water possible!
Keep an eye on the temperature of the water. Horses can drink from frozen over troughs, and in the summer the water may be too hot to drink comfortably.
Salt, Minerals and Electrolytes
If you do not provide loose salt or mineral daily, then a block is the next best thing. Some horses like one type more than another, so it is best to provide both blocks, unless there is a health concern. Put them near the water trough so they are easy to clean off when they get covered in dirt.
Electrolytes encourage a horse to drink, so they are great to use when the weather is hot, or if there is a change in weather or a change in lifestyle. They are inexpensive and can be found in powder form or a tube.
Watch The Weather
Changes in weather can cause problems for several reasons. If the temperature changes from hot to cold suddenly, horses will drink less. This can cause reduced digestion and set them up for impaction colic.
Changes in barometric pressure are thought by some to increase the cases of gas colic. You can set up a barometer and see if makes a difference in your horse.
Keeping Medications on Hand
Building a good relationship with your vet can be vital if your horse is acting colicky. Talk to your vet about what medications to keep on hand for mild cases and how to give it. This can save money in vet bills if your horse has a mild case.