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Colic, a horse Owners Worst Nightmare!

Frosty with Mandy

By Mandy Cooling

I wanted to share my story, as it might help in some way if this horrible experience was to happen to you and your horse.
I came home at lunchtime and went out to feed the horses some hay and my thoroughbred was acting a bit strange. I had only just that morning commented to a client that my horse was a bit off the last few days and maybe over the cold and wet of winter, being a sensitive thoroughbred etc.

He was not rushing over to claim his pile of hay as usual, instead was pawing at the ground where he was standing near by, then walking backwards and generally uncomfortable. I instantly realised he had colic. Not too bad at this stage.
I took off his rug as it turned out to be a mild sort of day by lunchtime. He tried to pick at the hay but more pawing etc.

So I decided to check his temperature, gums and listen to gut sounds. Everyone should know what their horses temp is normally so when anything like this happens you can tell the vet what his vital signs are. Normal temp should be 36.5 – 37C. Frostys was 39C and his is usually in the lower range.

Now I was worried. So I tried squeezing and release pressure on the tips of the ears, an acupressure point for stress. Massage the colic points on his body and still no change, so as time was getting on I rang the vet. I went in and got the Rescue Remedy for him and me! Again, a must for all stressful situations.

You can’t mess around too long with colic as it can turn nasty really quickly. The vet was there in 1.5 hrs.
By now he wanted to lie down. He looked to me as if it was spasmodic colic as the pain seemed to come in wave, which of the 2 colic types, that was not as bad!
I also noticed that there was no fresh poo around and that he had not had a poo for a while.

When the vet arrived and checked his breathing to see if he had any infection in the lungs, all OK there. His temp. was still up. Heart rate was not too bad. So she took bloods to be tested the next day if no improvement. Then a pain killer that kicked in as soon as she left. He was then able to eat a bit of hay and drink a little but still lots of tummy rumbling and still no poos! And more lying down.

I also gave him some homeopathic medicine for colic from my home kit. Thank god it was not a wet, windy night but it was cold and frosty.
I went out every hour to check on him and he was lying down a lot, and clearly as the pain killer wore off later not a happy chappie. He was shivering too so on with another rug and checked his temperature, it was still up.
So I went to bed hoping all might be well in the morning! He was still very uncomfortable the next day so I rang the vet and his temp had come down so that was good and told her to get the bloods tested.
I carried on with the homeopathic medicine for colic and muscle pain from so much lying down. Gave a healing treatment and kept an eye on him.

At lunchtime I made up a small feed which he ate as he had only been picking at the hay again. Good sign. He was still straining like he wanted to poo! Later on I decided to take the mare out of the paddock hoping he might get a bit upset by it and do a poo! Yes he did, that worked so put her back in. I know it seemed a bit extreme but I needed to see him poo. So over to inspect it and make sure it didn’t have any sand etc. in it.

All good there. He was starting to eat a bit more hay by now and not lying down as much but very flat and dull, not his usual self.

So just let me say at this point that if you can hang around for a bit to watch your horses walk over to eat their hay and watch him eat and observe him for any unusual behaviours even when his is resting in the paddock it could help you to pick up on the fact that your horse may not be feeling too well.
I think the fact that Frosty was really healthy from the inside out that he was able to fight off this bout. Because at one point when he was flat out I didn’t think he had the energy to go on.

He may have ingested something poisonous but I don’t have any weeds that are in my paddock. However when I was shaking out the hay the next morning I did notice there were some seed pods from the medic clover that I’d heard are poisonous when they get to this stage if ingested. As I had had my hay cut late this year the clover had turned into these seed pods which I usually find and take out when I spot them. Or he may have eaten a little toadstool when fossicking about in the paddock. Who knows really! But I was lucky this time that he pulled through.

A week later and he is almost back to his normal self. Also on day 3 I went and picked up from a friend who is a naturopath for horses some herbal tincture to put in his feed to help him with his digestion and to eliminate any poisons.
I consider myself lucky and my horse as not all outcomes from colic are this good, especially if it had been a full on impaction colic, with no gut sounds.

If anyone wants to talk to me in more detail about how I helped Frosty please feel free to call me or email me: Mandy Cooling – Equine Myofunctional Therapy (E.M.T.) Also known as horse massage. Ph: 03 6266 4771 Mb: 0419 865 041, Email:


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