Colic: It’s All Academic Until it Happens to You

Journalist Pat Raia has written about horse health and welfare issues for years, but she learned it’s a whole different ballgame when your own horse is the patient. Here’s what she experienced when her horse colicked recently.
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When Sonny laid down immediately after Pat turned him out, she knew something wasn't right. | Photo: Courtesy Pat Raia

Journalist Pat Raia has written about horse health and welfare issues for years, but she learned it’s a whole different ballgame when your own horse is the patient. Here’s what she experienced.

On more than one occasion, I was first in line to help other members of my barn family soldier through whatever crises that beset their horses. Scratched eyelid? I was there holding the ointment for the owner to apply. Foot troubles? I handed out wrapping materials for the trainer. Colic? I offered earnest embraces to owners before they and their horses departed for surgical sites.

And while each of those gestures was sincere, inside I was breathing a sigh of relief that Santino (Sonny to his friends) wasn’t the horse that had scratched his eyelid, suffered from super-tender feet, or was in need of colic surgery. In fact, I was so accustomed to my little horse being nearly indestructible that I was panic-stricken when something actually was wrong.

On a sunny Saturday morning I began tacking Sonny up for a light workout. Just before I tightened the girth, he, well, broke wind. Not much, just enough for me to joke about needing a gas mask. We proceeded outside to warm-up and pick our way through a couple of pattern exercises, and Sonny broke wind again

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Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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