Colic in Broodmares: Special Considerations

Peripartum colic is a common but sometimes life-threatening complication often seen in broodmares.

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It’s no secret that when complications arise around foaling time, they can be life-threatening for either mare or foal. A relatively common complication for broodmares is peripartum (the last month of gestation or the first few months after delivery) colic.

At the American Association of Equine Practitioners Focus on Colic Meeting, held July 24-26 in Indianapolis, Ind., Tim Mair, BVSc, DEIM, DESTS, Dipl. ECEIM, MRCVS, of the Bell Equine Veterinary Clinic in Kent, England, discussed some of the most common complications that cause colic–which is a collective term to include most ailments that cause abdominal pain in horses–in the peripartum mare.

"Colic in the broodmare presents both diagnostic and treatment challenges," Mair said. "In the pregnant mare we are faced with not only one, but potentially two patients simultaneously, and the best course of treatment for one may not necessarily be what is best for the other."

He explained that when treating a pregnant mare for colic, the veterinarian’s goal is to "identify and correct whatever abnormality is present as soon as possible, and to support placental function to maintain fetal viability throughout the remaining period of gestation

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Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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