We had a scary time here last week when my 13 yr old Canadian mare colicked. With the vet's help, she survived it, but now I'm paranoid about anything I see that's unusual. I've started wetting her pelleted food, cutting carrots into tiny pieces, added flax to her feed.
Today we rode at the conservation area and she just wasn't her usual bold and athletic self. She was also in heat - only signs with her are excessive sluttiness and a lot of peeing usually, so I'm not sure that's the reason for her different demeanor.
I'd like to hear from others who've been through colic with their horses. Does it affect them after they have recovered? Are they more likely to colic again?

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There are many factors in colic, have you googled it and read about all the predisposing factors? If your mare has not colicked until she was 13, she is probably not prone to it. Horses need alot of roughage, grass hay is generally the best for them, always feed supplements after hay, in winter sometimes the water is too cold in the troughs and they don't drink enough, my vet said that water from the well is warmer, so keep the troughs as warm as possible. Feeding 3 times a day helps, horses have relatively small stomachs. Worm consistently. be aware of her behavior, lying down or rolling more often is an early sign. If you catch it early, when she just has a gassy stomach, loading her into the trailer almost always causes horses to poop. I've given pre colic horses gas x human tabs, and keep banamine on hand. Keep a book on horse first aid handy. The main danger in colic is they are so uncomfortable they can roll and twist a gut (gastric torsion), another reason one shouldn't exercise them until food is digested, or feed them immediately after hard exercise. Some horses colic from stress, like from traveling and showing, changed circumstances, or change in feed (new hay),best of luck, Laura
Thanks, Laura for taking the time to mention all the things to look out for. I'm feeding grass hay, have heated water troughs, feed 3 x day (pellets once a day). My mare is a really low stress horse, typical of the Canadian Horse breed. She trailers so often & so easily to trail rides that she never poops in there, so I'll have to try something else if she's gaseous. I will take your advice on supplements AFTER the hay; we are wetting down the pellets now too. I admit I haven't been as careful about exercising her after a feeding - I'll have to keep that in mind, but on the other hand, she's been OK for 13 yrs, and hadn't been ridden for 4 days previously, so I can't pin this episode on that, but I will be careful. And I agree that keeping banamine on hand is critical; you could see the quick relief it gave her. A friend runs a huge broodmare farm and she says using banamine stops 90% of the colic she sees. Thanks again!
Another much over looked indicator is a big change in barometric pressure. Ask any vet what days they get the most colic calls. I am on guard anytime there is a big weather front coming though. One winter I had 3 colics with in 10 days. Mare first, then her weanling twice. I know exactly how you feel. The third time I dragged my vet around the barn and showed her exactly what I was feeding. I started closely watching every move my horses made and the answers were pretty clear.
My mare was a snow eater and a very independant soul. She would much rather winter outside 24/7 then come in to her free stall set up of a barn. So she coliced from what we think was lack of water. Then her filly did the same no doubt because she was sticking with her mom outside. After that I closed them out of the pasture at night. They had a small drylot and the free stall where the water tank was located. I hung buckets with small salt blocks all over the place. I also monitored poop daily and used a little mineral oil in their grain if I thought it was needed. I also tossed in some loose table salt to thier grain every day. No drastic changes but lots of obsevation. The hardest part was the chase when the mare figured out the nightly lock down procedure. She wouldn't even come up for her grain when she figured out she'd be grounded for the evening. Also do you keep a tube of Banamine on hand? I have a tube in the barn as well as the trailer. My instruction was dose with Bananime, wait 15 minutes, then call the vet if no improvement. I haven't had to call the vet for a colic since I started stocking Banamine at home. If you don't like needles you can get it in a gel, just like dewormers.
Oh, I like that - Banamine in a gel. I absolutely hate giving needles. I will check with the vet about that. My mare eats lots of salt and drinks a lot and the warmed water trough is handy, but she too likes to be outside all the time.
One thing I've really worried about is her picking through the shavings in her stall - they only come in for 5 minutes at night to get pelleted food, then out again. The moment she's done her food, she starts picking through the shavings - same thing if I'm tacking her up in her stall. I hate that and I'm certain it will make her impacted if she does it any length of time. I've tried to watch and see if she's only taking in stray pellets and letting the shavings go, but it's impossible to see for sure. Does anyone else have that problem or am I worrying too much.
If you think she is looking for stray pellets then toss a matt under feed bucket and keep it bare. Or if that is the only time she is in then just push all the bedding to one corner of her stall. I can't say I have ever seen a horse actually eat shavings but there is always a first. Wanted to add also as careful as you want to be about exercise not being after she eats, daily exercise is critical to keeping that gut moving. I remember lunging that filly outside in the dead of winter daily. There were days I'd have a blanket on her just making her walk in howling winds with snow flying. That was terrible.
My very old pony colicked about 2 years ago. While he seemed to be just fine, I have always kept a close eye on him. Because of his age, I give him 'soup' for his meal and I do add oil. Every horse is different of course and while one may only colic once others do seem to be prone. As colic can be induced by so many different things, (stress, food, injury or sometimes nothing at all) each situation needs to be assessed. I think we are all a little more guarded once its happened.
Colic is a very common problem in horses. It's also a problem in human babies . The difference between the human baby and the horse is that the baby is able to spit up things that don't agree with them. Horses, on the other hand , are for the most part obligated to pass what ever they eat, through their entire digestive system. Their digestive system is huge with the intestines measuring up to 70 feet long. There are all sorts of nooks and crannies and places for things to get caught, impact, ferment improperly, kink, accumulate gas and kink some more....all along a very long distance.

When a horse has had colic once, it is likely to colic again, if they continue in the same circumstances. This is not because the horse is now weakened and prone to colic but because, if something caused colic once, it's likely to cause it again. If you can, you need to figure out what caused you mare's colic so that you can make the necessary changes. But be advised, some colics don't seem to have an obvious cause.

We run into impaction colic because when the weather gets cool the horses don't drink enough water. So we heat water tanks and we feed sloppy beet pulp to make sure they get enough water. You're headed in a good direction by wetting her feed.

Also horses are best fed a diet that is high in roughage because their digestive systems are designed for roughage. All roughage is even better. All hay, grass and very little grains. Beet pulp is 60% soluble roughage so it's a good roughage, too. Save the grain for a horse that needs extra because he's in hard work or competition. A lot of pellets are loaded with grain products, although there are hay pellets, so you might take a good look at the ingredients listed on your bag of feed. If our horses need more than roughage we add rice bran and flax (ground) (which you already do) for fat and to raise the caloric intake.

And we also try to avoid sand colic by feeding a psyllium regimen.

Horses can colic from bad feed- mold, rodent droppings, pig feed getting mixed in with horse feed...

Horses can colic from a change in weather.

It's important to know what kind of colic your mare developed; impaction? Gas? Sand?

There are many more reasons for colic than those that I listed but these are the most common. If you can determine (ask the vet) what kind of colic your mare had, you can adjust her circumstances (feed, water, hay, psyllium) and potentially avoid a repeat performance.

I wish you the best of luck with your mare. Colic is very scary and dangerous. It's also common. Try to think of what you can eliminate (or add) in order to stack the deck in your (and your mare's) favor.
Thank you,everybody, for taking the time to give me ideas and to offer advice. I think we are on the right track now - she's gaining some weight and looking much like her old self. I'm giving her beet pulp nightly with hand-ground oats, flax, and some probiotics, and I've eliminated the pelleted food. I think I will put out some loose salt as well as the salt and mineral blocks that are there - we have a heated water trough - just to be sure she's drinking. I have been distributing the hay over the day more often rather than just 3 x daily. I am also trying some homeopathic remedies which, at the least, cannot hurt her and may just help. I have been afraid to exercise her - sore guts? - but she lives outside in a huge yard, so she's not confined. I will saddle her up and see how she feels about a walk about. Thanks everyone!
It all depends on the horse. I have one that coliced as a 4 year old (required surgery) and has never coliced again (knock on wood). I've also come across horses that were cronic colicers. Have you had her checked for ulcers? Water intake most important. If she's not a good drinker make the beet pulp sloppy and that will help get fluids into her. Make sure hay is of the best quality you can get (I prefer T & A for the "scratch factor".) Make sure that you grind the flax daily as it can go rancid very quickly. You will be nervous for a while and always feel relieved at every poop she has!
I have also been looking at the sites featuring (home-made) slow feeders re: horse's need to eat over the whole day versus our need not to have huge fat horses. I am going to try to put together a slow feeder which can only help with digestion.
Check out this site if you are interested:

For hay -check out the vid.
I've been doing that too, but I still worry that they are gorging, then nothing, then gorging, etc. The videos on that website I mentioned show many different kinds of slow feeders and I think if we can find the right one, the horses will be much better off.
BTW, I have 2 Canadian Horses and one miniature/shetland cross, so absolutely nothing, zero, nada, scares them off food. I swear, I think you could mount a coyote beside a feeder and they would keep eating placidly. I always brag about how willing and easy going my horses are but, honestly, they always know a food reward is involved somewhere along the task, and I think that's why they will do anything I ask. ;-)


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