Thursday, January 7, 2010

We Love Snow and Watching For Colic

It's snowing hard - we're supposed to get up to a foot of new snow by the time it stops early tomorrow morning. It's a very pretty snow, with tiny flakes, some of which are broken up, but I would describe it as a determined snow - it makes tiny ticking sounds on my sleeves and is steady and heavy. I love snow, always have, even though it can be an inconvenience and a lot of work. The horses really love it too - it's good for rolling in, for pawing and for romping. It also tends to improve the footing. I love how the snowflakes look on their necks - the flakes are perfectly highlighted by the horse coat colors underneath.

The strong low pressure system that is producing our snow is supposed to pass to our south tonight, and then arctic cold and winds are supposed to sweep in later tomorrow. When we experience these dramatic pressure and temperature changes, a couple of the horses who are prone to weather-change colic need careful watching. I try to watch carefully every day, but pay extra attention at times like these. Both Fred and Joe have had weather-change colic episodes in the past - Fred is particularly prone to colic, although he's been doing well (knock on wood!) since he moved back with us almost a year ago. A number of the other horses have had colics before - Maisie is prone to serious impactions (she's had two, once of which required a visit to the vet clinic) and I carefully watch her water intake in the winter and the quantity and quality of her manure, and also supplement her feed in the winter with plain table salt to encourage drinking. Dawn's had a couple milder colics and Noble's had one attack of gas colic. Thankfully, I've never had to deal with a torsion colic (knock on wood again).

This morning, some of the horses weren't 100% normal. When I blanketed him, Fritz was very crabby - this is unusual for him as he's normally pleasant in the stall. He was kicked by Scout a couple of days ago, and he may just be a bit sore. I heard the impact, but didn't see it - it was a low thunk, not that nasty cleaver-into-meat sound that heralds a serious kick injury (I've heard both and there's a big difference in the sound). I checked Fritz over carefully afterwards, but there was no obvious sign of impact and it's possible Scout caught him on his blanketed area.

Blackjack was a little bit quieter than normal - he didn't nicker loudly for his beet pulp as he usually does, but he did eat well and I got a quiet nicker when I went to take him out. Fred actually pawed and rolled once in his stall after I blanketed him, but he did eagerly eat his breakfast and didn't show any further signs of anything - he may have just rolled because the blanket was itching somewhere.

I also watch everyone during turnout, and everyone behaved normally, so I think they're all OK - they just may be sensing the weather change. If anyone has trouble, I'll be on the phone to the vet after checking vital signs including capillary refill - our vet doesn't charge for phone calls and it's good to have their guidance and have them alerted for a possible emergency call even if we don't ultimately need a visit.

If you get a chance, stop by Grey Horse Matters and check out her interesting post "Love the One You're With" - well worth a read.

Here's to winter and snow, and may your day include horses!


  1. I keep a good watch on our herd too. I'm pretty sure we'll be getting your weather a day later as we're due for snow tonight and tomorrow and then the arctic freeze. I'd rather have fresh snow then sunny days with no wind. The arctic temps could stay away as far as I'm concerned. Hope everyone is alright during the weather change and Fritz is feeling less crabby by the time he comes in.

  2. great post , always a good idea to monitor for tummy trouble during weather changes . A colic caught early isn't the trainwreck it can be

  3. We've got snow at the moment and they're searching for grass so I'm watching Anky like a hawk. We've put hay out but they prefer to search!!

  4. Agreed..dealing with Laz's colic in October because of weather change, it's now a slight obsession of mine of his water intake.
    I top his water buckets (I prefer buckets to auto s so I can see the amount he intakes) with warm water and he seems to drink the warmer more during cold days.
    Also, per my vet, I now make loose bran mashes with lots of warm water to aid in pushing things through. You are a good barn owner!!!

  5. Yep, Sonny is acting strange today too. Front is closing in faster on us now than I first thought, so we'll be watching him close tonight too. Ahhh such fun being owned by "sensitive" horses!

    Take care out there Kate, and stay warm!

  6. Sudden weather changes are always a worry. I soak the feed or feed a soggy mash whenever I get concerned. My horses seem OK, but I've known a few really affected by the changes in the weather.

    Hope all yours do well and everyone gets to enjoy the snow.

  7. Another great post Kate. These weather changes will continue to keep all of us on our toes. If we get your weather the next day, I see some bran mash in my horses future.

  8. I'm hoping everybody keeps drinking and makes it through the night safe and sound - and I hope we get Snow Pictures tomorrow!

  9. Your horses and the horses of the other boarders are unbelievably lucky to have you in their corner, Kate! You are perceptive and caring and willing to put in all the extra time necessary. I hope the snow is lovely and the stomachs are all making good noises!

  10. That's funny that your horses like rolling in the snow. Panama doesn't like rolling in anything cold. When I turned him out today, he poked around the arena for a while with his nose down, looking for a place to roll, and seemed really disappointed that he couldn't find anyplace with no snow. ;o)

  11. Hope everyone's A-OK this morning!


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