March 13, 2012

10 Ways to Help Your Horse Past Colic

Ways to Help Your Horse Past Colic
March 13th, 2012
This useful guide brought to you by: The Intentional Horse
Dedicated to Empowering Horse Lovers
(and you may not need the Vet!)
Yikes! Your horse is showing signs of digestive discomfort – biting at the stomach (flanks), pawing the ground, laying down and rolling, stretching into unusual positions. He shows no interest in food and not passing any poop! What can you do?

  1. Take Vital Signs – (have this information if you should need to call the vet)
  2. Take the Temperature rectally – A horse’s normal body temperature is 99N – 101N F (37.5N – 38.5N C). Pain can raise the body’s temperature. The time to get concerned is if it is over 102N
  3. Check the Pulse – The resting pulse rate of an adult horse is about 30-40 beats per minute (bpm). If it is over 50 bpm may mean the horse is in physical distress. A young horse will typically be about 5 – 10 bpm higher. It is easiest to check the pulse just inside the jaw bone or behind the front elbow.
  4. Count Respirations – Adult horses at rest breathe about 8-15 times per minute. This goes up with hot or humid weather, exercise, fever or pain. The respiration rate should NEVER exceed the pulse rate. A horse should inhale and exhale for about the same length of time.
  5. Check the color of the Gums (this is a test of circulation) – They should be moist and pink. If they are very pale or blue, this can be an indication of shock.
  6. Check for Gut Sounds- Place your ear in the shallow area just behind the top of the last rib. Check both sides.
  7. Listen for gurgling sounds for 10 – 15 seconds. A lack of any sounds can mean that there is no peristalsis (contraction of the intestinal walls). IMPORTANT: This information is not meant as a replacement for veterinary care. It is not intended to replace consultation and discussion with a licensed veterinarian, nor is it intended to encourage the reader to postpone calling a veterinarian if you suspect any condition which is beyond your customary experience and ability to control.
  8. Give Probiotics – Activated probiotics can rapidly reset the beneficial gut flora, reducing gas pressure and lowering stress. We recommend 50 – 60cc of Dynamite’s Dyna-Pro (or other pre/probiotics that contain “fermentation product”) every 30 – 60 minutes until the horse is no longer in discomfort and has pooped.
  9. Rub the Belly Button with peppermint oil, tea tree oil, etc. This also stimulates peristalsis.
  10. Release Endorphins to help calm and lower pain levels by rubbing the gums above the teeth under the upper lip.
  11. Use Reflexology to lower pain levels by gently “pulling the ears” between the thumb (inside the ear) and forefinger (outside the ear).
  12. Massage or use acupressure on Equine Energy Points for colic and pain. (see chart)
  13. Load horse in a trailer – this stimulates the urge to poop.
  14. Keep Hydrated. If your horse is willing to drink, encourage it to do so. If it isn’t, try to give tepid (not cold) water with a 100 cc syringe.
  15. Relax the back and long muscles with Tail Pulls. Hold tail with both hands just below the last bone. Slowly pull with as much strength as your horse can handle at the angle of the croup. Hold for three breaths, then slowly release. Do this 3 to 5 times per hour until colic episode has passed.
  16. Quietly Walk or longe for 10 – 30 minutes per hour as this can distract your horse and encourage peristalsis. However, do NOT ride your horse.

NOTE: Pain Killers – Pharmaceutical pain killers such as Bute and Banamine can help a horse past the need for drastic rolling and thrashing. But use them sparingly and only with the advice of your Vet, as they can also mask indications of more serious forms of colic such as volvulus, torsion or displacement of the colon. Herbal and homeopathic remedies (Amazon Herb’s Recovazon, Arnica, Ruta Grav.) can also be very helpful with controlling pain and relaxing muscle spasms.

This useful guide brought to you by: The Intentional Horse
Dedicated to Empowering Horse Lovers

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