Perhaps the most feared, and most common, medical problems of the horse is colic. While most cases of colic – a term that simply refers to pain that originates somewhere in the horse’s abdomen – will resolve with time, and medication, a minority of them will require surgery to correct life-threatening conditions, such as strangulation or obstruction of the intestines.
While it’s certainly appropriate to be concerned about colic, the condition, and fears about it, have resulted in an almost limitless number of treatments, as well as a tremendous number of misconceptions. Since most cases of colic get better eventually, this also means that many of these treatments can be perceived as being effective, even when they aren’t. Check out the page on “Colic myths” for some facts to dispel some of the myths.
If you see your horse with some of the typical signs of colic – rolling, pawing, failure to eat, etc. – it’s certainly appropriate to be concerned, and to call your veterinarian. But keep calm – the odds are that your horse will be fine. Even if surgery is required, if your horse gets to a surgical facility in a timely fashion, there’s still a good chance that things will be OK; in fact, some surgical colics have cure rates of 90%, or better.
As with every problem, you’re always best equipped to deal with colic if you know the facts. There’s lots to learn!