After months of the blistering summer heat, it is exciting to see the coming of the fall season. The leaves are changing, there is a crisp breeze in the air, but in the back of a horse owner’s mind the word “colic” is repeating over and over again. Colic is one of the scariest words in the equestrian language. There are many causes for horse colic, but most are directly related to the microflora of a horse’s gastrointestinal tract. Many different factors can cause your horse to colic. While we cannot prevent all colic episodes, there are many steps that we can take during fall and winter to decrease the possibility of it.
Water, water, water!
Impaction colic is due primarily to a lack of water intake. Always make sure that your horses have access to clean water. As the season changes from summer to fall, the grass in our pastures begins to lose moisture content. With this, we feed more hay to our horses to make up for less grass. When this happens, our horses are taking in much less water than they usually do because dead grass and hay do not have the moisture content that fresh green grass does. It is our job to make sure that water buckets and troughs stay clean and enticing to our horses. The addition of a salt block or table salt added to feed can also help to push our horses to their water troughs. We also need to make sure that we are monitoring the possible freezing of your horse’s water supply. Make sure to have a heated bucket or a tank de-icer, like the Ultimate Stock Tank De-Icer, in place before an expected freeze because just a few hours without access to water can put your horse at risk of colic.
A parasite treatment program is essential to preventing horse colic.
It is imperative to stay on a parasite prevention program to prevent heavy infestations of worms. Waiting until there is a problem and then playing catch up can potentially cause an impaction with a massive load of parasites trying to exit the body at once. Jeffers carries a wide variety of horse wormers that can help keep parasites away.
Sand colic prevention is necessary.
As the grass starts to die in the fall and winter months, your horse may begin ingesting more sand than usual while grazing. This is also an issue with horses eating leftovers from their hay racks or feed buckets off of the ground. Jeffers carries several psyllium based supplements, such as Equi-Aid Psyllium Pellets, that help to reduce sand retention.
Digestion supplements can help keep everything regular.
CRS Equine Gold DFM Powder or Succeed are great supplements for keeping a horse’s hindgut healthy. They provide a source of naturally occurring micro-organisms and digestive enzymes to enhance nutrient absorption for overall health and immunity to reduce the risk of colic.
These are just a few tips to help prevent colic that is cold weather specific. Remember, there are multiple conditions that can cause a horse to colic. If you suspect your horse is colicking, consult your veterinarian immediately.
For some cool weather fun, see “Fall Trail Riding: Preparing Your Horse.”
Have more questions? Contact me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 1-800-533-3377 ext. 355.