Jump to content


Any horse people-- my horse might have colic...

Recommended Posts

I am a horse owner and lover--but so NOT a horse person!


Black Jack is a 30yr (solid black) quarter horse gelding. We 'rescued' him 3 years ago after our neighbors divorced, moved, and left him behind to starve! It took one year to nurse him back to health then my children enjoyed riding him for a year-- and the past year we have 'retired' him-- so he is a pasture ornament.


He is currently in a 1 acre paddock with a 20x20 run-in. He is fed 1 bucket of Sr feed AM and PM with a few flakes of hay each day.


He did not eat Wed evening (bad bad T-storms all day PLUS a large group of coyotes decided to weather the storm on our property (high ground)). Thursday morning he did not eat either and he was stamping the ground with his back feet... I called the vet.


Vet said I could 'stick a hose up "there" to see if anything would come out" (impaction), but he was too busy to come out-- only vet that does house calls in our county (and a family friend!)... Jack will NOT trailer (long story) so we are stuck with this vet.


Well, it is now the weekend. We have been walking Jack as much as possible. He is not rolling, but is in obvious discomfort.


Vet can come out Monday...


What can I expect until then? Is there ANYTHING I can do-- I will NOT do the hose thing as I know that can cause MORE damage.



I trust this vet with my dogs, cats and bearded dragons.. but not too much with horses... he owns LOTS of horses--but his wife is the horse-person of the family-- vet does NOT trust horses and 'man-handles' them.


I wish wish wish my horse would trailer... many people have tried.


I hate to see him uncomfortable.


So far I'd say his symptoms are 'mild'-- but missing 2 days of food is making me nervous!


Any suggestions or prayers gladly accepted.


There is NOT anther vet I can get to come out....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How much water is he taking in? This is key. My mare got a belly full of worms from her anti-parasite medication (apparently, she had a bad case) and was having a hard time passing them. My horse vet had me mix a 1/2 cup molasses with a 1/2 cup sea salt, thin with just enough water so that I could pull it up into a big syringe, and then down the hatch...we then added a salt lick to her water bucket. She received the salt slurry twice one day and once the next, but the salt lick remained in her water bucket for three days so she would want to drink more water which made it easier for her to pass the parasites.


Is there a horse vet in the area you could call for advice, offer to send them a check, even if they do not do house calls? In our area, I do not know of a single practice that does not have a partner who does house calls for horses and other large livestock...but we are rural, heavy agriculture, etc. they'd be laughed out of business by the community if they insisted that horses be trailered and taken to the clinic.


I'd check with other horse owners. You may have to pay a travel fee/mileage to get a vet from another community/county to come, but it is probably worth it. If your horse has standard colic and hasn't passed any muck by tomorrow night, I would be worried that he won't make it to Monday, or if he does, will be in excruciating pain. :crying:



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does he have gut noises? Place your ear were his abdomen meets his hips. The place where the hairs swoosh in two different directions. Just listen for awhile for any gurgling. You want gurgling.


Is he drinking? Fluids are going to be more important right now. I wouldn't try to tempt him to much with food. Especially, if there are no gut noises. If his gut is not moving you do not want to add food to the mix.


If you can go to the feed store, get some electrolytes and mix with water. Keep him walking every so often and do not let him roll. He may just be off his feed due to stress.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would check with other local horse people you trust. Here, I would likely give a dose of Banamine that i have on hand.


I agree about the drinking water. Is it cold by you? A storm front could set off colic in an older horse.


Do you mix the senior food with water? If not, start doing that and make sure he has free choice salt or some added to his food.........salt blocks aren't enough for most horses as they can't lick enough.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you don't want to go the "back route" and honestly, i don't blame you, try giving him mineral oil in a syringe in his mouth. Will he eat anything at all? treats, peppermints? I know you don't want to stick a hose back there but can you put your hand up there? Is he pooping? Is he trying to bite his sides? If he has gut sounds (there are 3 to listen for (on both sides), maybe you have a stethescope?) and he's not rolling, or trying to bite at his sides or kicking at his sides, it might not be colic as those are the main symptoms besides rolling which you said he wasn't doing. I would try the mineral oil orally and if you're brave enough try to stick you hand up his butt (sorry) just a little way up to see if you can feel and pull out any poop that might be there, helping him to move it. Poor guy, let us know how he's doing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

His belly looks a bit distended (hard)...


He is drinking and is willing to graze--but will not touch his hay or his Sr feed (which he LOVES more than just about anything).


His teeth are still OK-- no problem chewing his Sr feed..


If I can't find any new 'piles' in the morning I may brave it and try the 'hand thing' (gloved of course!).


There is a HUGE county livestock show and sale this weekend so my horse-friends are all at it and will not be available until Monday as well.


Jack put his head over the fence so DH could pet him-- so we know something is up! He tolerates DH--but he prefers women/girls to men any day!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Watch him closely. I've had one or another colic just a couple of times, so I don't have a lot of experience, we did non stop walking and banamine.


Mine that colicked were a mom/daughter, and it might possibly have been something else (which escapes my mind right now) so I can't give any decent advice.


Hope he's alright........is he stretching out??? Looking at his sides???

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I haven't heard about mineral oil but it sounds like it could work.


when my horse broke into the barn and ate between 50 - 100 lbs of grain (I don't know how much HE ate but we lost 100 lbs of grain, and he is the dominant one, so........) and I could hear no gut noises, I got a HUGE pot of warm water and added molasses to it. He gulped it all down. I walked him until he started to poop (about 2 hours) and once he pooped and I heard gut noises, I let him handle the rest on his own.


from what I understand, this is really something that can not wait. It could take his life. I would definitely do the molasses water/syringe and walk him tonight.

Edited by Denisemomof4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is definitely in the category of something that is potentially life-threatening - I have been around horses for about 25 years and I have watched 3 horses colic so badly that they ended up being put down (not mine, but people I was close to). 2 of my horses have had mild cases of colic periodically in the 17ish years I've had them, only rarely severe enough to have the vet come out and do their thing (generally, a long tube in the nose with mineral oil pumped in, a rectal palpation with a long glove to dig out any poo found, and IV banamine). The remainder of my horses are, fortunately as healthy as... well... a horse! :)


(Colic, btw, is just abdominal pain - a clinical sign, not a diagnosis in and of itself)


Anyhow, the steps I would usually take in a mild colic case are as follows:


1) Note horse is feeling poorly - determine if he has gut sounds (hold head against stomach, use stethoscope if available) - determine if he is willing to eat normal food (usually this is the first thing they stop doing). It is also a good idea to check for capillary refill time (lift his lip up and press your finger against the gum, see how long it takes to turn back to normal color after pressure is applied).


2) Take temperature (rectal thermometer - it helps to know the "standard" temp of that horse - I have 1 gelding that always runs cool, so he has a temperature when it looks "normal" for another horse).


3) Once I've determined there is a problem, I immediately separate that horse from the herd & put him in a stall with medium sized pen (for walking) in which I have cleared out ALL old poop and ALL food (hay/grain) and I have put in a bucket of an exact amount of water (I use auto waterers for the group, but when sick water needs to be monitored much more carefully). I'd also put in a salt block AND free salt (chop a bunch off the salt block & mash it up - put it in the feed bucket).


4) Very important - you generally should NOT feed a horse who has a potential impaction. I know you are very concerned about him not eating, but he needs to either have a bowel movement or get tubed (by you or a vet) before eating. Once he does poo (the sign from above that he is turning a corner for the better!!) give him a few hours to recover and then gradually re-introduce food (wetting hay before feeding for awhile should help).


5) Average idle horse drinks 10+ gallons of water a day - carefully monitor his water intake and see how much he is currently taking. If he isn't drinking enough water, you need to somehow boost his desire to drink it.


- Try having a separate "fun water" bucket filled with something nifty - like water and apple juice. Electrolyte water is also good, but make sure he always has 1 bucket of clean, plain, not-too-cold water.


- Get a large syringe and cut off the syringe top part (so it has a flat top). Fill the syringe with water mixed with lots of salt & squirt it into his mouth.


- Has it been particularly cold there, after the T-storm? Adding some warmth might help - a bunch of hot water in a freezing cold water bucket, for instance, to make it not so cold.


6) Walking can help restore normal intestinal activity and can soothe an anxious horse. Do not continually walk the horse - do it for 15-30 mins or so and then take a break for awhile. Then again. Especially with such an old horse, excessive walking will just make him very weak. Lying down is actually ok (per several vets I have spoken with over the years) - it is thrashing around on the ground and rolling that can cause the twisting of the gut. If he starts trying to roll while lying down, get him up and start walking again!!


If there is a "poo trigger" your horse has, try that (often, just loading a horse into a trailer will cause mine to poo - then we can hop out and be happy! I know you can't trailer load, though. Alternatively, I have another horse that ALWAYS goes poo when tied to the tack-post! I know some people who swear by light lunging at a trot.).


[Right in here, before administering any medication, is when I make a determination about calling the vet. If the case is very mild, or the timing on the vet works to allowing more time to wait, I would give the oral paste Banamine that I keep on-hand. If my gut tells me to call the vet, or if it has been a long amount of time, the vet is definitely called. All of the above steps I take whether a vet is called in the end or not.]


Bute is NOT very effective for abdominal pain. Banamine, however, is. IV is best, but IM may be better than nothing (and you can do it yourself - you just have to run pick up the meds from the vet). I actually remember someone talking about intra-oral injection (without needle, of course!!) actually being better than (or at least comparable to) IM - I've never done it, but if you are unwilling to give an injection that is an option.


Signs of increased severity include excessive sweating, trying to roll, constantly biting at sides, pawing at ground or kicking at belly. At this point, you would need a vet out ASAP.


The vet is ALWAYS the best call in a situation like yours (a horse in obvious discomfort, an owner inexperienced in colics, no backup support of experienced ppl, and a long time into it). I know you are having problems with that, so I've tried hard to come up with everything I could think of that might help you get through this. Know, though, that the longer a horse goes with the symptoms you've described, the less likely their chances for recovery. In colic, quicker is better.


I find it unbelievable that your vet would take the symptoms you've described and tell you he'll be out Monday - to me, that is unacceptable. All the vets I have dealt with in the 17 years I've owned horses would have been out there the same day I called, even if it was a Sunday . It is THAT serious. I would be calling all the vets in a 1-2 hour radius and seeing who would come out tomorrow. (Although, to be fair, I am pretty experienced in this these days & my vets know it - so they know I wouldn't be calling them if it wasn't looking pretty bad. Really, though, being INexperienced should mean that they would come out quicker knowing you needed help!)


All that being said - here's hoping that you will catch a lucky break & your horse will manage to get through whatever is causing his problems & go on to complete an even longer life! :) All he needs to do is drink lots of water and start pooing!! How wonderful of you and your family to have given him a home and love.

Edited by black_midori
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow. Sorry about the information overload! Let me know if you have any specific questions I might be able to help you with. :)


ETA - I just re-read your original post and wanted to remark on the comment about "sticking a hose up there". I've never seen one of my vets do that, that I can recall. They tube from the nose down with mineral oil (something you should absolutely NOT try, as doing it in the wrong pipe can kill them). What they DO do, however, is get one of those super-long plastic arm gloves (like from the medical supply stores) and coat it liberally in mineral oil and then stick their arms up there. They are generally feeling for impacted poo (sometimes it is actually close enough to that they can grab it by the chunk-full and yank a bunch out) and twisted guts (which would require very expensive surgery). This I think you actually COULD do yourself without causing injury (although it would be absolutely gross & I'd have to be basically in the situation you are in with not being able to get any vet out before I'd personally attempt it - even then, I'd already have called every vet I could think of just on the of-chance they might come!).

Edited by black_midori
Link to comment
Share on other sites

as for going through the back end....it's not something i would do (with anything other than my arm) our equine vet does this himself with his horses and it has always worked for him. If i were you, i would try to get as much poo out of him as you can, check to see if it's dry and crumbly or wet and moist. If he has a bowel movement that is a great thing but that doesn't necessarily mean that you are out of the woods. our mare colicked this past summer (first for her). she pooped early on and i almost got on my knees in thanks, but she was FAR from out of the woods. Her colic was so bad (had the vet out twice in one night) that we almost had to put her down. I mention the treats for this reason. The vet was on his way out to euthanize her and we were giving her treats becasue at that po int we thought, what could it hurt...she wouldn't touch her hay during the colic and endless hours of walking her, but when we gave her some peppermints and apples and molassas grain, she ate it right up and immediatly stood up and was almost normal (we, to this day, believe it was a miracle)(and when the vet got there he was amazed as well). I believe that the sweets somehow moved something in her intestines (after 8 hours) and made her better. i'm concerned because your horse has been "off" for a couple of days and i'm thinking if it were colic then he would have had other symptoms by now. I'm wondering if there might be a tumor involved...i don't mean to scare you, i don't, but it's something to think about. i work at a kennel and there was a dog in there last year who wouldn't eat, didn't want to move and turned out he had a huge tumor...i won't scare you with the details but it wasn't good....it's just something else to think about. please find a vet, your horse needs medical attention and though there are people on this board who can try to help you, he needs more than that. keep us posted we are all concerned for him.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...