Protect your horse from colic this winter

10th January 2018 

Rosie Naylor BVetMed MVetMed DipACVIM MRCVS, RCVS Specialist in Equine Internal Medicine

Winter time imposes many management changes that can predispose horses to colic. In particular impactions of the large colon are seen more commonly during the winter months when exercise and turnout are often restricted. Here are a few tips to help minimise the risks to your horse.

1. Make changes in your horse’s turnout routine and diet gradually.

2. Check water supplies several times throughout the day to ensure these haven't frozen over.

3. Consider feeding smaller more frequent meals. Not only does this prevent a horse over-eating it also reduces fluid shifts that can cause impactions.

4. Try to feed only good quality hay or haylage. Ensure plenty is available in the paddock if grazing is poor.

5. Watch out for the horse that tends to eat large amounts of its bedding and consider changing to a less palatable form like shavings or wood pellets or spraying the straw to discourage eating.

6. A salt lick may encourage a horse to drink more.

7. Regular dental check-ups (every 6-12 months) and routine rasping will ensure your horse can chew their hay sufficiently.

8. Follow an appropriate worming plan that addresses all types of worms. Speak to your vet or SQP for advice on this.

9. Where possible monitor your horse's droppings carefully looking out for those passing smaller, drier and fewer than normal.

10. If you have any concern contact your vet for advice.