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The mystery of colic - factors that can increase the risk of colic in horses

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 Colic Horse

Colic has long been a mysterious condition among the equestrian community. Colic is classed as the most common medical emergency in horses and ponies so it is surprising to learn that 90% of horse owners do not feel confident in spotting the early signs of colic (The University of Nottingham). Colic is simply defined as abdominal pain, however, the severity of colic can change drastically without quick and effective intervention.

The University of Nottingham recently teamed up with The British Horse Society to create the REACT campaign to colic. The reasoning behind this campaign was to have a source of accessible, high quality, information that could save a horse’s life.

There are so many underlying causes that could lead to colic. A horse does not contract colic as a disease in itself – colic is often a secondary consequence of a disease. Putting your finger on what may cause the diseases that lead to colic can be very tricky, but if we recognise some of the risk factors associated with colic it can make the symptoms much easier to diagnose.

Factors that increase the likelihood of colic

In many cases, colic’s origin is never identified and unfortunately, some horses are just susceptible to this syndrome. However, there are many tips and tricks that could help to prevent the occurrence of colic.

  • Avoid sudden changes in your horse’s diet (If you are required to change a diet, you should do this gradually)
  • Limited forage (grass or hay)
  • Reduced pasture acreage or no pasture time at all
  • Change in housing/yard
  • Multiple carers/owners
  • Over 5kg of concentrate feed per day

The REACT Campaign

Following the precautions that reduce the likelihood of colic is certainly a good idea, however, if your horse does happen to encounter colic, it is important to REACT.

The REACT Campaign could mean the difference between life or death. The REACT Campaign is an acronym that covers the main symptoms of colic. 

 REACT Campaign