Colic In Horses

Owners with a horse who has experienced colic will often go into full-blown panic-mode, and understandably so. Colic can be incredibly scary for both the owner and the horse, so taking steps to prevent it is paramount.

Your horse’s feed is one of the most important components when it comes to reducing the risk of colic. But knowing how to feed your horse when they have suffered a bout of colic and knowing how best to prevent is a lot of information for the average horse owner!

Keeping your horse in a routine when it comes to feed and exercise is one of the best ways to maintain gut mobility. But that’s not all you can do. Here’s how best to prevent every horse owner’s nightmare.

Feed Little and Often 

Feeding your horse little and often is one of the best ways to promote healthy movement within the gut. Any hard feed they have should be served in smaller servings as opposed to one large serving. At least 60% of your horse’s diet should be forage.

Hard feed should be used as a supplement to your horse’s high fibre forage. Do not allow them excessive amounts of grass, and ensure you keep your horse in the same routine – feeding and exercising at the same time each day where possible. 

Make any Changes Gradual 

Sudden changes to your horse’s diet can bring about colic, so it’s imperative that you make any changes to their diet slowly. This refers to not just hard feed, but also forage.

The transition from hay or haylage onto the lush spring grass can be a difficult one for horse’s to cope with, as the fibre in the lush spring grass is much lower. Ensure you introduce your horse to this grass slowly, perhaps only letting them out to graze on this for an hour or so each day, building up slowly.

In the winter, ease the transition from grass to hay by dampening their hay. Allow them small amounts of hay, to begin with, gradually building up over a period of a few weeks. 

Ensure a Constant Supply of Water 

Water is an essential component for your horse’s digestion. Changes in hydration can affect the way that food is passed along the gut, and can lead to colic. While at rest, your horse should have a constant supply of clean fresh drinking water.

However, if your horse has just been exercised and is either blowing or very sweaty, limit the amount of water they have access to. While they may drink a little after exercise, don’t allow your horse to have too much at once. Offer just small amounts every 20 minutes.

Post Colic – Don’t Feed too Soon

Many bouts of colic simply require pain relief, while more serious cases may require surgery. Your vet will recommend the best course of action for your horse, but the general rule is that your horse should not be fed either forage or hard feed until they pass manure. Listen to your vet’s advice for what to feed after your horse has been treated for colic.




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