OWNERS, BEWARE. THE NUMBER ONE KILLER OF HORSES IS COLIC! But colic is not a disease. Rather it is a combination of signs that alert us to abdominal pain in the horse. Colic can range from mild to severe, but it should never be ignored. That's because many of the conditions that cause colic can become life-threatening in a relatively short period of time. Only by quickly and accurately recognizing colic - and seeking qualified veterinary help - can the chance for recovery be maximized.
A major problem for you as a horse owner is identifying the signs of colic. That's because signs can vary greatly between individuals and may also depend on the severity of the pain. However, among the more common signs are:
Time is perhaps the most critical factor if colic is to be successfully treated. While a number of cases resolve without medical intervention, a significant percentage do require prompt medical care, including emergency surgery. If you suspect your horse is suffering from colic, the following action plan is suggested:
Your equine practitioner will establish the severity of the colic and identify its cause. His or her examination and/or treatment may include the following procedures:
Virtually any horse is susceptible to colic. Age, sex, and breed differences in susceptibility seem to be relatively minor. The type of colic seen appears to relate to geographic or regional differences, probably due to environmental factors such as sandy soil or climatic stress. Importantly, what this tells us is that, with conscientious care and management, we have the potential to reduce and control colic, the number one killer of horses.