The fall is a time of lovely colors, family get-togethers, and winding down the busy show season. However, fall is often a time of increased colic calls to veterinarians. While not all colic episodes can be prevented, paying attention to equine management can go a long way to decrease the incidence and the suffering of episodes.
Colic, which is actually not a disease itself but a sign of stomach pains, can be caused by many different factors so it is well worth every horse owner’s time to learn all they can about prevention of this syndrome.
Ken Armstrong, DVM, is an equine veterinarian who has been in practice for many years and has seen many horses for episodes of colic during this time.
"A lot depends on the weather as the temperature swings can result in frozen or ice-covered water," Armstrong says. "This can result in horses drinking less water. At this time of year, they are also shifting from a high moisture diet (grass) to a low moisture diet (dried hay). Make sure the horse has (fresh, thawed) water available as sometimes the water may freeze during the night and not melt until late morning."
Paying attention now will help you prevent impaction colic from developing as a result of diet and weather changes and the lack of water intake.
A few additional points to keep in mind for colic prevention:
Watch out for poisonous plants. Ingestion of poisonous plants could be a higher risk in the fall as hungry horses are looking for grass that is diminishing. They might start eating other plants such as red maple, and others. Pay attention to what your horses are eating, to ensure