adventures with the vet · colic

Here we go again

This post was supposed to be all about how I trotted my horse last night, and even bareback around the ring for a few minutes it felt good, and he’s sound, and we’re going to ease back into work, and so on and so forth.

A few minutes after I got off, though, he pawed at his hay a little bit. Okay, I thought, he’s begging. Then he pawed some more, and when I got back from putting his bridle away, he was laying down. Then he got up and circled his stall and pawed some more and wasn’t eating his hay.

#@$#@$!

So I started walking him, and a helpful friend went to check on the possibility of some IM banamine. No dice, so we dosed him with half a tube and started walking, and walking. About 15 minutes later he really started getting that peaked colic look: hunched and yet distended belly, labored breathing, worried face. His gums were quite pale.

I had my hands on the phone to call the vet when T. came out and watched him walking and reassured me. I had in fact seen him pass some manure not long after I rode him, and he had gut sounds, so there was clearly some movement. We kept walking. Another 20 minutes or so and he started easing up a little bit at a time: his walking became more natural, his breathing a bit easier, his gums a teensy bit pinker.

It still wasn’t fast enough for me so we gave him the other half of the tube and kept walking. All told, I walked him for about an hour and a half. I let him stand quietly when he wanted to. He sniffed the ground quite a lot but never quite offered to roll. When he started mugging me for treats again when we paused, and T. went back up into the house, I put him on the crossties in order to strip his stall – I didn’t want him adding anything to his stomach, and wanted to be able to see every bit of manure he left.

He pawed up a storm on the crossties but it was already starting to look pissed off instead of painful. I put him in his stall and he started rooting around for hay, getting little wispy bits but not much more. He stood in the open stall door and pawed and pawed and glared at me, clearly furious that I’d taken away his dinner before he finished. Within 30 minutes of being back in his stall he’d pooped, peed, and passed copious amounts of gas. Just a little over three hours from first noticing symptoms to being totally comfortable with his recovery.

This is not new for him, unfortunately. He’s a very gassy horse to begin with, and when he adds anything to that mix he can get colicky. I wish he didn’t, and it terrifies me every time, but he has clear and recognizable symptoms and I always keep banamine to hand for precisely this reason. Next time the vet is at the barn I’ll get another tube, and we’ll talk about some maintenance things to help him out.

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