Colic is a general term used to describe any abdominal pain. Colic can be extremely serious and may be fatal in some cases, although otter cases can be easily resolved. colic can have a number of different causes including altered diet/management, change in environment/weather, stress, worms or poor teeth; however, in some cases no specific cause can be found.

Signs of colic may include

  • Flank watching, kicking out at the abdomen, restless repeated standing and lying down, excessive or repeated rolling, sweating. Horses may show only one of these symptoms. Pain usually comes in waves so monitor behaviour for 10-15 minutes.
  • Usually due to problems with the gastrointestinal tract (spasm, increased gas, impaction or twisting/trapping of the gut) but also can be due to pain from other organs in the abdomen.
  • If mild symptoms are shown the colic is usually treated medically with pain relief or muscle relaxants.
  • Very painful colics are often due to an area of gut becoming twisted or entrapped. Once the blood supply to this region of gut is compromised it quickly releases toxins and the horse goes into shock. Surgery is required to correct these problems.

What to do

  • Call the vet
  • Remove food (if safe to do)
  • If signs are mild, walk your horse for 5-10 minutes every 15-20 minutes (to stimulate normal gut motility and to distract from the pain). If the horse is trying to go down and roll while being walked then return to the stable.
  • If the horse is very painful, do not approach it. Do not try to stop your horse from rolling, research shows it does not increase the risk of gut twisting but it will increase the risk of you getting hurt.