Caring for the Equine Colic Survivor

Special maintenance and nutrition can help your horse get back to (and stay in) good health after a colic episode.

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Caring for the Equine Colic Survivor
Every colic case is different—and certainly not all stories can have such happy endings—but veterinarians agree that the care we give our horses after a colic episode, surgical or not, can play a major role in their recovery. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

Special maintenance and nutrition can help your horse get back to (and stay in) good health after a colic episode

Ouragan was in a critical state. Four days after colic surgery, the regional show jumping champion was suffering from postoperative ileus (a lack of gut motility) and facing a mere 5% chance of survival. To make matters worse, Ouragan (French for “Hurricane”) reacted to his hospital surroundings with severe stress. The 12-year-old half-Thoroughbred was naturally high-strung, and being confined to an unfamiliar stall and surrounded by foreign sights, sounds, and smells pushed him beyond his limits.  

But one thing calmed him—his owner. Every day after work and on weekends, Claire Boillin, of Auxonne, France, would make the 200-km (124-mile) drive to see Ouragan at the clinic. It provided a moment of relief for the horse, as well as the staff.  

“He wouldn’t sleep and just kept refluxing (expelling fluid when veterinarians tubed him), and I was sure he wouldn’t make it through the night,” she says of that pivotal fourth day in his healing. “When I went in his stall, he was so exhausted, he just lay down. I sat next to him and put his head on my lap, and he fell asleep

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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