Colic – the dreaded word no one wants to hear as a horse owner. Colic is responsible for a majority of horse deaths every year. So it is super important to know what it is, what causes it and also what signs to look for to catch it in its early stages to give the greatest chance of survival to your horse. So what is colic? Colic is basically a pain in your horse’s abdomen. What causes Colic? There are soooooo many causes to colic but I will just stick to the main causes for now. An obstruction. So basically it can be caused by your horse eating something that they cannot digest and it becomes stuck in the intestines. Unfortunately if it is a large obstruction then surgery is your only option to have a successful outcome. However sometimes the obstruction can be small enough to pass through with some added help by means of lots of oils tubed in to your horses stomach helping things pass with next to no friction. Sometimes the obstruction can simply be food that has bunched up hard and cannot pass and the oil can loosen it up and help it to pass out. Sand colic is another bad one. What happens here is that the horse consumes a lot of sand whilst eating and the sand in the stomach and the digestive tract causes a lot of pain. This pain can eventually lead to a twisted bowel which then requires surgery to fix. (I will talk about the twisted bowel a bit further along). Mouldy feed. The mould on feed can cause adverse reactions with the bacteria within the digestive system and can cause severe pain, gas and bloating causing colic. Again this can result in a twisted bowel. Poisonous weeds. This is very similar to the mouldy feed scenario however you also have the added fact the the poisons can cause all different types of reactions within the body and this is most often fatal if not caught early enough. So any type of gut pain can cause severe contractions in the abdominal muscles which can cause the intestines and bowel to get a twist in it, especially if they are rolling while having abdominal muscle spasms/contractions. Signs to look out for. These are the major signs but you must be on the lookout for anything that is not apart of your horse’s daily routine or any unusual behaviours. Turning around and looking at the belly and also kicking up at the belly. This is a response to the pain in the abdomen and your horse’s way of expressing their pain. They will pour the ground with their front feet. Pouring at the ground is a sign of discomfort and stress in the horse. They can do this also just before they roll or playing so make sure that they are doing it a few times and they are have some other signs of colic prior to ringing the vet if they are pouring the ground. Laying down and rolling. Your horse wil be up and down and up and down and rolling around a lot if they are experiencing abdominal pain. It is not a once off roll and walk away. They will also look like they are experiencing a bit of stress while doing this as well and normally pouring the ground a lot in between getting up and going down if they have colic. What to do? Call your vet ASAP and follow their instructions. There are so many different treatments and old wives tales but do as your vet says. I also like to massage the softer part of their belly and quite often this can help move things that are a bit stuck. However if your horse is in pain from it then they may be inclined to kick you if it hurts them.