Having horses is not all fun. Sometimes, (thankfully only sometimes), it is scary and worrisome. For as large as horses are, they can, at times, seem to be frightfully fragile creatures. One of the most worrisome of ailments is "colic". What is that? For you non-horsie folks, it can be as simple as an upset stomach or as disasterous as a twisted bowel (aka twisted gut).
Horses have a huge digestive system, and their intestines are quite long. They also have an organ called a Cecum. This organ helps them to digest, and because of it, they actually can get a lot of nutrition even from the roughest and meanest of forages. Consequently, they also can easily get toxins as well. That is the flip-side to being good "digest-ers".
This past Friday, our littlest guy, *Bill refused to eat his evening grain. Whenever a horse refuses to eat, that sends up alarms. I took a quick listen to his gut sounds on both sides, and heard very little. This increased our alarm. In addition, he kept reaching back to touch his left side, and he wanted to lay down. All of this pointed to possible colic.
Guin ran in to get his halter and lead rope. Once on we began walking him. We would walk him four to five loops around the pasture, then stop and listen. Each time I listened, it seemed that there were more gurgles, more pops. We kept walking. We'd stop, I'd listen. Then I would lightly massage his abdomin, working from front to back. Success!! He passed manure (you're laughing, I can hear you! But this is an important thing!)
We kept walking. After *Glory had finished her evening grain, she came down to the bottom of the pasture and starting eating hay. As we would pass, she would nicker encouragement. Sometimes we would stop by her and see if he was interested in milk. Nope, not yet. More walking, more listening, more massaging. GAS!! Yippee! (You're laughing again!)
More walking. Manure!! Yahoo! Then Chuck got home and came right down to help walk him. I ran up to get the thermometer, timer, and flashlight (why do horses wait for the dark to get sick?). Back down and I listen...yep, lots more gut sounds....take tempature (100.8~good that's normal)....check capillary action in his gum tissue (wow, fast refill and pink gums).
"What's that *Bill? You want milk?"
Wahoooooooo. All is now well.
Had *Bill not passed manure, had he not begun to perk up so fast, then we would have placed a call to the vet. Colic is a very serious ailment for a horse. All it takes is good observation and knowing your horses to spot when something isn't quite right with one of them. Thankfully, Guin was the quick observer this time, and we were able to set him right pretty quickly.