Colic is used to describe stomach pain in horses. It can be relatively mild or be fatal and normally affects the stomach and small intestine.

Colic in horses has many causes, such as:

  • A change in diet
  • Windsucking
  • Consumption of ‘mouldy’ feed
  • Feeding just before work
  • Feeding and watering too soon after work
  • Overheating
  • Ingesting too much sand when grazing
  • Parasites and worms
  • Build up of gas
  • Rolling around and twisting the gut

There are a vast number of possible causes of colic in horses and in many cases the exact cause is never known. The symptoms of colic horses can vary hugely depending on the severity of the colic. They range from a horse looking at its side to thrashing round in a stable and not knowing what to do with itself. It is imperative that a vet is called as soon as possible after you notice a horse with colic as it can become severe very quickly.

There are 7 main types of colic in horses:

Name Cause/description
Impaction Food blocking the digestive tract or after a wormer has been administrated due to the dead worms blocking the gut.
Flatulent Gas not being expelled quickly enough and it can distend the gut.
Spasmodic Irritated gut wall which can be relaxed with drugs from a vet.
Artery blockage Caused by worms and can result in a portion of the gut dying if nothing is done.
Twisted gut The blood flow becomes obstructive and it is the most painful type of colic.
Enteritis Inflammation of small/large intestines.
Sand Caused by horses grazing on sandy soils.

The treatment of colic in horses depends upon the severity. If a horse has a twisted gut then immediate surgery is required. Some mild cases only require the horse to be walked around in hand until the colic has ceased.

After a bout of colic in horses the digestive tract can become very sensitive and the horse will now be prone to colic. It is therefore essential that the digestive tract is kick started with ad lib forage, a probiotic gut balancer and a high-specification vitamins and minerals supplement – these two horse supplements should help the digestive tract return to normal.