January 18, 2011


My horse is very dear to me, so the last days I have been in agony.

When I came home on Tuesday afternoon, Fame did not finish her hay. Instead she lied down.
Oh no.
I phoned my vet, and said that we might have a colic on our hands, and asked him to be prepared.
I walked her but she was not well and had a slight temperature, so I asked the vet to come.
He diagnosed a constipation (blockage? what is it called in English?).
After treatment she recovered well during the night, and as I was working from home the next day I could keep her under observation.
Everything was fine until 7 pm. When I came out to check on her she was lying down again.
Another visit by the vet.
Again she responed well on the treatment.
Loose manure, no temperature.
When I walked her on Thursday evening she was alert and hungry.
Went to work on Friday (of course a yearly large conference for the entire company), and got a call from the stable. She was lying down again.
Phone call to my vet - he told us to drive her down to the veterinary hospital.
The blockage/constipation was tough, and they said that the situation was depending on how she responded on the treatment, and asked me if they should phone me if it was necessary to do a surgical operation during the night.
I did not sleep much.
When I finally got a call the next morning with the reassuring message that the constipation had dissolved during the night, I could finally breathe again. She is a fit and healthy horse, and I have been very grateful for that because I believe it has helped her in the situation.
We could drive her home again Monday evening.
My well muscled 8 yo now looks like a gangly 3 yo instead, poor thing.
She was so happy to come home, and I was just as happy to get her back.
She is on a strict feeding regime for another fortnight, and I have to walk her three times a day, so it's early mornings for a period.

It has been more colics than usual this year, and they have had busy times at both of the veterinarian hopitals in Oslo.
It is probably due to the severe cold, as the horses drink less. At the same time more and more feed with haylage instead of hay, and it freezes in low temperature which also probably adds to the problem.
Here (as in most places) the horses has to do with snow instead of water while they are out during daytime as the water freezes.
That situation is of course not optimal, but not new - and has earlier not caused more problems with colic during winter time than during summer time.
Living up north for sure doesn't make things easier.


Anonymous said...

My Maisie was prone to impaction colics and I had several scary episodes like you describe - so glad she is doing better! In our climate, heated water troughs outside and heated buckets inside are essential for horses to get enough water - they cannot do well with snow alone. Also, many horses prefer warm to cold water. Maisie also benefitted from the addition of plain (not iodized) table salt to her feed - it encouraged drinking.

Keeping fingers crossed that all will stay well.

juliette said...

I am so sorry to hear about Fame's colic and glad she is doing better now. Good thoughts to you and Fame from me!
Can you heat your water trough? We have a trough that plugs in and does not freeze. It really helps to encourage them to drink.

Di said...

I'm so glad she's recovering well. It's very scary!

Annette said...

I am so happy that Fame recovered from her impaction colic (that is what we call it in English). Colic is sooooo scary.

Grey Horse Matters said...

That's very scary. I'm so glad she is doing better now. I've had some experiences with this and it's hard on both the horses and us. Unfortunately, I lost my best horse Erik to a colic two years ago. I'm so afraid of having another colic, we do have heated water sources and salt for them. I hope she continues to improve and you can stop worrying and get some sleep.

Laura Crum said...

So sorry to hear of your problem. My son's horse, Henry, had a mild colic this winter during the bad weather, and since he had been to colic surgery once already (two years ago), it scared me a lot. Since then, I have been handwalking him every day when riding was not an option. I really hope Fame is done with her episode--those days of better than worse are just horribly stressful, I know. Good wishes.

Laura Crum said...

oops, I meant, days when the horse is first better and then worse

Wolfie said...

Very scary!! So glad she is feeling better.

RuckusButt said...

Oh, Maria, I can only imagine what you went through! And of course it had to happen when you were extra busy with work, not fair! I'm very glad to hear she's doing better. In Canada we have heated water troughs outdoors too. Expensive but worth it. They look like silver metal tubes...not sure what they're called but I can check.

HorseOfCourse said...

Thanks for your kind coments all.

Problem is that the area where the horses are out is situated on the other side of the main road leading into the valley.
There is no possibility to connect to water or electricity there.
Through the warmer period we drag a hose over the road and fill up the water troughs, but it is too cold to do that now.
It is not the best situation, but there has been very few problems with colic here during the years. The horses are not thirsty coming in either, which also should indicate that they make do with the snow. (Like moose and deer, who have that as single source of water during the winter season.)

Fame gets salt in her food, and luke warm water after training. The silage is taken into the stable in advance to thaw.
Strange thing is that she was sick now, as the temeratures has risen lately.

Siri said...

Oh no! poor Fame!
Glad to hear that she is doing better!

lytha said...

what a scary thing to go through, it was very hard for me just to read it.

i have been concerned because my horse appears to eat no salt whatsoever in germany. i have three types of salt in front of him and he's never touched the stuff! i'm thinking i should shop around for other types. for now i'm adding a few tsp salt to his mash twice a day.

sometimes i feel so helpless in germany because i don't know what is available, what exists here, nor what things are called to even research them. so far the probiotic search has been very disappointing.

my horse also drinks very little water - an unbelievably small amount - 2 gallons (8 liters) per day! so i give him a bucket of soaked beet pulp twice a day which gives him another 2 gallons or so, i hope.

i hope the best for you and fame - please keep us informed!


Anne i Hannover said...

Oh, good to hear that she's well again and that you could avoid surgery.
Fingers crossed that she stays healthy and happy!

The Odyssey Farm said...

Hugs to you... hoping for the best and that her fever is short-lived. The colic may have been secondary to her fighting an illness that put her off food and water for a little while.

Some of us over here jingle our curb chains to bring good luck for a horse in need, so I'm jingling my curb chain for Fame.

Merri said...

oh how scary, i'm so glad she is okay. I worry about our horses not drinking enough in the winter. I always keep a tank full with a stock heater in it, but the people staying at the house now don't do that - they just let the horses drink from the cold and partially frozen creek. it worries me!
- The Equestrian Vagabond

HorseOfCourse said...

Thanks for your kind comments all!

Lytha, I also give them soaked beet pulp. They get it lukewarm as their morning porridge, and happily slobbers away. Makes me happy just listening to it.
I can understand that you feel helpless in the German horse world sometimes - I would do the same if I moved my horse over to the US.
I believe you can get Bailey's horse feeds in Germany? They have a very good prebiotic. Check http://www.baileyshorsefeeds.co.uk/whatproduct/supplements/digestplus.htm

Odyssey - Thanks! Jingle away, please! She had fever because of the colic, no other illness was involved.

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

Oh, how scary. I hate those sleepless nights.
I am always worried about colic and drinking. My OTTB prefers warm (like bath warm) water vs cold during winter to drink.
In addition, I fill a bucket up halfway with warm water, allow no sugar beet pulp to soak for an hour, add a little salt, and some aloe juice (optional) and he slurps down. It ensures he gets in added moisture as well as fiber that wont cause irritation like bran mash. I would ask vet before, if you would like to do something like this to help Fame digest more water.

Claire said...

scary stuff! glad she's recovering.

i read some research recently to the efffact that a horse given a choice between cold and warmed water, would go for the cold, but would drink a lot more of the warmed... i'll see if i can find where i put the link, think it's on facebook...

but silage? really? or is there a language problem? we are all taught that silage is too rich and not right for horses, we feed haylage which is made similarly but not the same and i've never heard of that freezing!

Shanster said...

So glad Fame is o.k. I'm so sorry for your worry as I know she is extremely dear to your heart and our hearts thru the internet.

Heck if any one of us knew what caused colic and knew 100% how to prevent it, they'd be a ga-jillion-aire.

I know you take wonderful care of your lovely Fame - thinking of you and wishing you all the best. Shan

HorseOfCourse said...

Thanks for your kind words!

Kristen - they do get beep pulp with salt already. I agree with you, it is a good way to get some extra water down.

Claire - language problem, sorry! (They never taught us anything useful like this at school!) Haylage it is! And yes, it does freeze where it is tightly packed. But I guess you don't have temperatures around -20C in UK?

Thank you Shanster! It has been some tough days. Mostly for her of course, poor thing, but I have had problems to think about much else. And what a wonderful world it would be without colic...

mugwump said...

How scary,colic is so terrifying. I used to have a horse who would colic with every temperature change of more than 30 degrees. In Colorado this happens often. Sometimes there is no answer. I'm so glad she came through.

trudi said...

Oh so sorry Maria, just caught up with this, glad Fame is feeling better and hope it doesn't recur. Roll on spring and some warmer weather for you.

Casey said...

Colic is a horrible thing isnt it :( I nearly lost my boy a few months ago to epiploic foramen entrament colic, and it really is a scary thing! Hopefully your boy stays healthy!
I nominated you for a blog award, see it on my blog at http://www.teendressagedream.com/2011/01/blog-awards.html

HorseOfCourse said...

Mugs and Trudi - thanks!
It was some tough days, but she is recovering well now, for which I am happy.

Casey - how sweet of you, thanks! I'll go and have a look...