Saturday, October 10, 2009

Not Much Work and Seasonal Colic

The past two days, we've had a cold rain on and off, so I haven't gotten any work done with Maisie and Dawn, just the basic grooming and hoof-picking. Dawn has progressed to offering me each hind foot in turn as I go around - she holds them up in a nice, relaxed position for me to pick. Every day her eye seems softer and she is more "there" when I'm with her.

Maisie looks like a house, all of a sudden. I'm not sure if she's gotten fatter all of a sudden, or is just bloated - the horses aren't on rich pasture right now, just in the winter dry lots which are quickly running out of grass. She's also been showing some signs of discomfort, both at morning feeding time and also just randomly when she's in her stall - kicking and body slamming. She also doesn't seem quite as perky - I don't think someone who didn't know her well would notice, but her eye and demeanor just don't seem as bright to me. She doesn't have that fully "gone away" look that a horse who's really sick or in serious pain has, but she does seem a little be abstracted and her eyes have a little bit of a "squinchy" look to them. It's possible her suspected ulcers are acting up, even though she's on daily U-Gard. I hope she's not starting to brew an impaction colic. I think I'll give the vet a call next week and see what they think and if we should do a 30-day course of GastroGard, or the generic equivalent, omeprazole. I'll be doing our fall worming of ivermectin plus praziquantel (Equimax or Zimecterin Gold) for all the horses who are on daily Strongid as soon as we have a hard frost, which is expected Saturday night, and that may help her out as well.

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Both Fred and Joe have in the past had colic when there are abrupt weather changes, particularly in the fall and spring, where we often have fronts push through with rapid changes in barometric pressure and temperatures. Their owners have them on some supplements which are designed to help out the digestive system - Joe is on pre/probiotics and Fred is on A.B.C.'s Plus, which contains enzymes and friendly bacteria to help out his gut function.

We also do a few things to help the horses out as the weather gets colder. Every horse has a heated water bucket in their stall - many horses prefer to drink warmer water, although some prefer it to be cold. Lack of adequate water consumption can trigger colic in the colder months. Our barn is unheated, so the buckets would freeze on the colder days if we didn't have heaters. We turn the heated buckets on when the nighttime temperatures drop into the low 40s inside the barn. I carefully monitor water consumption, and if a horse seems not to be drinking enough - particularly Maisie who has had impaction colic twice - I add plain (non-iodized) table salt to their feed. All the horses have plain salt blocks in their stalls, which I replace as needed. Our outdoor water tanks also have heaters that keep them ice-free.

We also don't hesitate to call the vet quickly if a horse isn't eating properly or seems uncomfortable. If I see a horse out in the dry lot who is uncomfortable - pawing, say, which is often a sign of pain - I will check up close to see if they are in fact uncomfortable, and if they are I'm often on the phone to the vet as I lead them in. Our regular vet, who takes care of 8 of the horses at our barn (the other 3 use other vets) doesn't charge for phone calls. If a horse is having a problem, one or the other of us will stop in during the night to monitor their condition. Our vet is about a half-hour or so away, and if we need an emergency visit, they can come quickly. Here's hoping for no colics this fall!


  1. Hope Maisie's feeling better! Aren't seasons fun? This time of year I kind of understand the attraction of wintering in Florida. Too bad I'm not independently wealthy......

    I love all the progress you've made with Dawn. I teach all my horses to lift their feet up for me to pick, too. My poor back just doesn't tolerate bending over to wrestle with feet anymore!

  2. Sand Clear once a month can also help. Better safe than sorry.

    I'm with Shannon about picking feet. It's hard work on my middle-aged bod.

  3. Best wishes for Maisie and you. I hope you get through with no colics also, sounds like you're doing everything possible!

  4. I hope Maisie feels better soon. Always a worry to have a horse who is sensitive to changes in pasture and forage...

  5. I hope Maisie is ok, even thinking about colic is upsetting to a horse person. Our vet(s) also do not charge for phone calls, and in fact I have all of their cell numbers programmed into my phone!

  6. Hope Maisie is feeling better soon. Sounds like you've got it all covered to ward off the potential colics with the change of weather.


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