Colic

In my last post about Ruby's injury I mentioned the vet had given me a couple of brochures on different illnesses and cares. I decided to write about one of them. The first one I picked was Colic.

Colic is a pain a horse has in his/her abdomen (belly). Colic is the number one killer of horses, although most cases are mild and can be treated medically simple. 

I was most interested in recognizing when a horse has Colic. There's a long list of different behaviors but I'll just write a few instead of all of them. 

  • Pawing
  • Kicking or biting at the belly
  • Turning towards the flank
  • Leaving food or being completely disinterested in food
  • Repeatedly rolling with grunting sounds
  • Rapid breathing and/or flared nostrils

These are just a few from the list, there are actually a lot of behaviors a horse can go though to show his/her discomfort. 

There are a few easy ways to check on the horse as well. In my last post about Ruby, I talked about checking the gum in the horse's mouth. By pressing a finger down on the gum (releasing) and then seeing how long until it turns back to it's normal color again (normal: 1-2 seconds). Another thing to check is if the gum is moist, tacky, or dry. And just checking the color of the gum (white, pale pink, dark pink, red, or bluish-purple).

Check the respiratory rate (breaths per minute), measured by watching the rise and fall of the flank with each breath. Checking the pulse and heart rate (beats per minute), measured over the heart (just behind or above the left elbow) or over an artery (at the sides of the fetlock or on the underside of the lower jaw).