My horses have always been solid, healthy guys. They rarely get hurt, throw shoes, or seem lame. And they never colic.
Until last week.
Last Wednesday, I put on my boots and headed out for chores at my normal 4 pm work time. As I rounded the corner to my “north barn,” I could tell something was amiss. My mom works with me, and I could see she was briskly walking over to Hot Rod and Kona’s pen with that scrunched-up-worried-mom-face. I looked over and only saw Kona standing waiting by his feed pan. Then I saw a big red mound rolling on the ground.
Oh, no. Not my Hot Rod. Not my steady-eddy.
Sure enough, he looked miserable. My heart lurched and I grabbed his halter. It’s odd how many times I’ve dealt with colic with horses who didn’t belong to me and yet, only one time in my past have I had one of my own act sick. For some reason, with boarders I can instantly spring into action! Call the owner, remove all feed and hay, etc. But with my own, I stuttered and questioned myself on what to do! Do I walk him? Do I immediately call a vet? All these unanswered questions went through my mind, and I struggled to act on any of them. After taking a deep breath, I decided to make one small decision at a time. So, I walked him into the barn and thankfully I had an open stall to put him in. I made sure there wasn’t any old hay in the stall, and gave him a fresh bucket of water. Then, I consulted with my vet friend. I gave him a dose of Banamine and decided to cool my heels and wait for a bit.
If you’ve dealt with colic, you’ll understand how hard it is to know how much a horse is in pain. You simply cannot compare one horse’s colic episode to another. Therefore, even though I have lots of experience in this department, it was hard to know what had caused the colic, how bad he felt, and if he needed additional help from a vet. It’s even more of a struggle with a horse who never colics.
I continued my chores and checked on him each hour. He laid down a couple more times, and the poor guy got so sweaty, despite the cold temperatures, from his heart rate rising. My vet friend came out and checked on him as well. I’m so thankful to have her. We made a plan for what to do if he didn’t get better. Plans give me peace. I like plans.
He gradually stopped sweating and acting uncomfortable; the Banamine was finally taking effect. I finished my chores, ate dinner, put my kids to bed, and continued checking on him. Oh, how I’m grateful to have my horses in my back yard! I can’t count how many times I’ve run out to check on horses in my jammies.
He continued to show improvement! I gave him a late-night grooming session about 10:30 pm, and decided it was safe for me to go to bed. When I came to the barn in the morning, he acted like normal, hungry-hippo Hot Rod! I’ve never been so relieved. I made him stay in the “hospital stall” for another day so I could monitor his water intake, bowel movements, and how much hay he ate. Now, he looks like nothing ever happened!
Has your horse ever coliced? What did you do?