Colic is the number one killer of horses. It’s not a disease but a gastrointestinal condition that causes abdominal pain. According to the American Horse Council, more than 64,000 horses die due to colic-related problems each year. With those numbers, it’s smart to get horse medical insurance. Here are five steps you can take to help prevent colic in your horse.
1. Don’t Overfeed
Grass is the best food for a horse. Secondary to grass is hay. Grain feed made of corn, oats and barley is usually used to supplement the horse’s diet. While the carbohydrates from this mix are good fuel for your horse, giving them too much starch can upset the balance of bacteria in their stomach. Therefore, grain feed should be less than half the total amount of a horse’s diet.
Feeding your horse smaller portions throughout the day will aid the digestive process.
2. Stay on a Feeding Program
Try to avoid frequent or sudden changes to your horse’s diet. This also can lead to bacteria imbalance in the horse’s digestive system. Instead, introduce new food gradually over 7 to 10 days. You can also mix a little new food with their current food, increasing it gradually every day.
3. Exercise Daily
Make sure your horse gets daily exercise. Studies have shown that horses stuck in stalls for the better part of the day are more prone to colic than those that are let out to pasture. Letting your horse run outside with other horses is not only good for his gut, but also his overall happiness.
4. Remove Sand from Food
If you live on the coast or in an area with a lot of sand, be mindful that it doesn’t get in your horse’s feed. Ingested sand can get stuck in the horse’s large intestine and potentially cause a blockage. To minimize the chance of sand getting into the horse’s food, don’t feed him on the ground and avoid letting them out in pastures where there are bare spots in the grass.
5. Clean pastures of manure
Horses grazing near manure can ingest parasites that wreak havoc on their digestive system. These parasites can burrow into the horse’s intestines to lay their eggs. Severe colic attacks are often due to a common parasite known as the blood worm. Clearing manure from your paddocks and fields should be done twice a week to help combat the spread of parasites. Dewormers can kill parasites that your horse may accidentally ingest.