Knowing how to recognize and manage equine colic is a critical skill for owners, but colic aftercare is just as important to the horse’s well-being. If a horse in your care does develop a colic, ask your veterinarian for a detailed post-colic care regime to follow during his recovery. More than likely, it will include the following the suggestions:
- Watch the droppings. Even after the horse looks comfortable, keep a close eye on the state of his manure. Any change from normal consistency, color or content should be noted; extreme changes, or those that last more than a day after the colic, warrant a call to your veterinarian. Although the horse may not show colic signs, the abnormal manure indicates that his digestive system is still out of sorts.
- Forget the grain. Withhold all grain for at least a day, or until his stools look normal. Then return him to his regular feed, starting with just a fraction of his normal grain ration. Gradually increase his grain back toward normal, while observing him closely for trouble signs.
- Provide plenty of forage. You can allow a mildly colicky horse to graze as soon as he feels up to it. Grass is easy to digest and palatable. You may also allow him unlimited access to hay if his droppings remain normal.
- Turn him out. The movement and selective grazing of continual turnout get a horse’s gut moving faster than stall rest. Check on the field-kept horse often to be sure you don’t miss signs of returning pain.
- Maintain a continuous supply of clean water. Have palatable water available to the recuperating horse at all times. Full hydration is necessary for normal gut function.