Basic Knowledge Horse Owners Must Know: Horse Colic Prevention And Management 2022


Horse colic management begins with knowledge of your horse’s basic needs.

In the wild, horses range freely, graze continuously and form close emotional bonds with herd mates. Moving and feeding throughout the day, they are genetically, physically and emotionally strong. In this environment, colic is nearly non-existent.

Domestic horses are bred, trained, medicated, housed and fed to suit our environment. But this unnatural lifestyle presents health challenges for our horses and can put them at increased risk for colic due to stress, parasite resistance, nutritional disorders and other preventable causes.

  • Insufficient turnout time, unsuitable housing, and overuse of chemicals can create environmental imbalance.  
  • Isolation, lack of socialization, and inappropriate training techniques can create emotional imbalance.
  • Inactivity and improper hoof care and riding techniques can create physical imbalance.
  • Poor diet, limited dental care, and over-supplementation can create nutritional imbalance.

Your horse is still a free ranging, grazing herd animal. The more closely you can provide for these biological requirements, the better. And we will show you how.

Even with limited acreage, time and money, you can make simple adjustments to balance these requirements with the current realities of your horse’s environment. Check out these links for more information:

  • Dietary Management of Horse Colic
  • Horse Parasites and Colic
  • Equine Stress and Colic
  • Environmental Causes of Horse Colic
  • Physical Management of Horse Colic
  • Other Horse Colic Risk Factors

What causes horse colic?

Colic symptoms are usually caused by a problem somewhere in your horse’s digestive tract. Most horse colics occur in the small intestine or large colon but can occur almost anywhere along its 100 foot length.

Certain types of horse colic are veterinary emergencies and require immediate surgery but most often, you and your veterinarian will be able to treat your horse with a far simpler course of treatment.

Many episodes of colic can be traced to the way you feed, house and use your horse. Although domesticated, your horse is still a free ranging, grazing herd animal and will benefit from a lifestyle supports her instinctive and biological needs.

  • Impaction Colic in Horses
  • Gas or Spasmodic Horse Colic
  • Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome
  • Equine Enteritis and Colitis
  • Gastric Rupture
  • Displacement or Torsion Colic

Signs of Horse Colic

Colic signs may vary according to the type of colic your horse is experiencing but generally, symptoms include agitation and anxiety, tail twitching and head twisting. Your horse may paw at the ground, pace or try to bite his flanks. Some horses stand and lay down repeatedly or try to roll.

Is your horse eating? Drinking? Has he passed manure? Is his gut gurgling happily?

Do not wait to call the veterinarian if you think your horse is experiencing a colic. The sooner you act, the better the outcome will be.

Familiarize yourself with the most common signs of colic and form an plan before your horse colics. It’s important to know what’s normal for your horse and be ready to take action if you suspect a colic emergency.

Equine colic is can be scary but remember that most episodes resolve quickly and well. Preparation will give you the confidence you need to help your horse.

New Horse Colic Drug

An exciting new development in the treatment of horse colic: Robenacoxib, a new class of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that target pain-causing enzymes without killing off intestine-protecting other enzymes.

Currently, the most commonly prescribed colic pain reliever is flunixin meglumine. While an effective pain killer, this drug can cause gastrointestinal problems. Because the colic itself can injure the intestine, these drugs can cause further complications and inhibit intestinal healing.

With funding from the Morris Animal Foundation, Dr. John Marshall, an equine surgeon at the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom is collaborated with researchers at North Carolina State University to study the promising new drug.

“The study showed that, in contrast to traditional pain relievers, robenacoxib did not prevent the recovery of the intestine following injury,” says Dr. Marshall.

Currently, robenacoxib is only available in Europe, where it is prescribed for cats and dogs but doctors hope that the study results will lead to an expansion of its use in horses worldwide.

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