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When Your Horse Has Colic
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When Your Horse Has Colic

Horse colic is surely one of the most uncomfortable conditions for both the owner and the animal. However, as per several other ailments, this can be relieved with the use of essential oils. These animals (and you as well!) will benefit first from the calming effects of a bit of Orange or Mandarin oils to relax before beginning the treatment or calling the vet if you feel it is needed.

If the colic is only light and still at the first stages, you may not even need a veterinary’s help. Furthermore, to ensure your horse’s digestive health is maintained, the regular and ongoing use of these oils can help prevent any further colic from happening.

If you notice that your horse is starting to get lethargic, paws at the ground without looking up, seems to prefer lying down or even might want to bite and nip at its own stomach, and is starting to perspire, it may be going through that harsh discomfort. Even before starting the treatment with the oils, the best things to do are to encourage the horse to stand and walk around to encourage movement. Then, you can start administering some oils through aromatherapy and by adding some in their food. You can even make a mixture of oil by adding some to an almond oil base or aloe vera gel, then rubbing it on their stomachs.

As per humans, the best types of oil to help with digestion – by using them orally – are peppermint, ginger and tarragon. If you have these ingredients fresh in your refrigerator or kitchen cabinets, you can simply chop some up and put it directly in your horse’s food (and yours!) as well. They are excellent at calming stomach upset and will give all of you incredibly fresh breath!

Another type of typical stomach upset is when the horse has worms. In this case, lemongrass, tarragon, fennel and thyme are the best choices. Once again, if you have this in original format at home (stay away from any powdered spice that has additives – sticking to fresh is the best way to go), then add it to their food.

Also, if your horse seems dehydrated – or you simply want to prevent it from becoming dehydrated – citrus, lemon and peppermint are your best bet. As per with humans, these help balance the body’s natural electrolytes and encourage Vitamin C absorption. Although most horses will have a clear preference for the peppermint oil, adding any of them to their water is the best way to use them.

 

 

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  1. Rene Wright
    Rene Wright
    Oooo I didn't know about Tarragon. Love the advice! Voted :)
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    1. naturegirl
      Thanks for the vote!
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  2. Chestnut Mare
    Chestnut Mare
    Voted. Some great advice here. It surely must be better than a lot of veterinary drugs! Hope you make TPs with this one.
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  3. PonyGirl
    PonyGirl
    While I strongly believe in essential oils (they cured my migraines) and herbal cures for both my horses and myself, colic is not a condition you want to fool around with. Your horse can die from colic and it's complications. It is a very acute condition which causes your horse serious pain. A horse is not able to throw up, so whatever has upset his digestive system will have to work it's way through, causing severe cramps. Causes of colic include, change of diet, too much grain at one time (as happens if the horse gets in the feed room), worm infestation, impaction, as well as other more serious conditions. The pain from colic may cause your horse to seriously injure himself while trying to alleviate his pain by rolling (especially if he's in a stall), or he may even twist his intestines while rolling and have to be put down. If your horse colics he needs IMMEDIATE attention. If the colic is mild, he should be given either dyperone (an antispasmodic) or banamine (a powerful pain killer and anti-inflammatory). If these remedies don't bring relief in 30 minutes or if the colic is already advanced when you find the horse, CALL THE VET. Do not let your horse roll. Keep him up and walking until he gets relief or the vet arrives. While horses have other less serious stomach troubles (such as ulcers) that usually greatly benefit from herbal remedies, colic is not one of them. If your horse is prone to colic, giving the remedies above as a preventative would probably be a good idea. But once the colic begins, don't mess around- get your horse medical help immediately. The sooner colic is treated, the easier it is to cure.
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    1. Chestnut Mare
      Chestnut Mare
      I had no idea colic was that serious PonyGirl! Thanks for this info. Do horses not vomit then? I didn't know that.
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      1. PonyGirl
        PonyGirl
        Chestnut Mare, horses cannot vomit or breathe through their mouths (that's why they have nostrils that can dilate so large). And yes, colic is extremely serious. When I worked for an equine vet, I saw several unnecessary deaths and also one horse that had to be put down because he beat own his head so severely while in the throes of colic pain. If safety measures are followed,(keep your horses wormed, change over to new feeds gradually, keep horses out of the feed room, make sure feed and hay are mold free, have free access to clean water) and if treated immediately, simple colic is easily controlled. But it is serious. Also sometimes the horse has another problem that is causing him to colic and, due to the extreme pain of colic, it is best to discover this early and alleviate his pain. Over the years, I've had 2 horses die from conditions which caused them to colic. The first one developed a benign tumor which pressed on his intestines, finally growing large enough to damage a section causing peritonitis. I could not afford the surgery so I had to have him put down. The second horse had a hernia and it ruptured suddenly which caused him to exhibit colic symptoms. So colic really, really scares me.
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        1. naturegirl
          Well, the site I visited did mention that the vet is needed for medium to severe cases, but did not detail them. She said that some cases can be healed at home if they are still at the early stages, and I picked up this information from an experienced vet who uses a lot of preventive mesures as well, so maybe her patients don't get colics that much and are lighter cases because their owners are told to use herbs and essential oils regularly. However, I noticed that I did not stress much that the not-so-light cases need a vet's care. I just slipped it in the article - it's there, just not emphasized. I did mention it in another article and am probably wrongly assuming that everyone who read this are my regular readers who have read all my posts because there is hardly any more traffic. Or, if there is, people don't vote and don't comment anymore. I'm surprised to see you reply here. I'm used to getting almost only Rene and Chestnut Mare replying now! But thanks for stopping by! And don't be shy about continuing!
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          1. PonyGirl
            PonyGirl
            Thanks, naturegirl. I'm new to the site and although I enjoy it very much, there are many of the older articles that I haven't gotten around to reading. Oh, and I forgot one more major cause of colic- sand colic. This isn't a very big problem in Louisiana where I am, but it arid parts of the country, like Southern California where I worked for awhile, it is a big deal. Horses ingest sand while they're eating. The sand balls up and forms "stones" (They really do look like actual rocks), and the horses sometimes have great difficult passing them. Feeding psyllium supplements can alleviate this problem. (I believe it keeps the sand from forming into the stones.) Anyway, I look forward to reading more of your posts.
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            1. naturegirl
              Psyllium is the active ingredient in Metamucil. It helps to soften the stools and make your poop pass.
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      2. stella
        Hi, Ponygirl's advice is good. NEVER leave a colic as they are ALL potentially FATAL. Get Veterinary help immediately. Horses cannot physically vomit so everything has to be passed. Even walking your horses can cause further problems. Simply try and prevent him/her from rolling until the vet arrives, to prevent ruptures or displaced colons etc.and consequently serious irrervisible injury in some cases. We are talking about abdominal pain... relate the ambiguity of that to a human body and it is always treated as serious just incase the underlying reason is far worse than the milder symptoms. Holistic treatments have their place and I have always used a balanced care system but emergency situations must legally be treated by a vet first. Enjoy your horses but be vigilant. Note how their droppings look and how often they go, and make this a daily check... note their breathing rate when calm, by watching their flanks move up and down how many times in a minute - should be about 8 to 10 for a 15hh horse or their abouts... to give an idea..., then if you suspect pain check the rate... it can escalate quite considerably. My mare could get to 22 during an asthma attack... the gums and eyes will look pinker if they have a fever, or whiter /paler if in shock... theses are additional signs which you need to be familar with so that you can notice the sligtest change. Some horses are braver than others. My mare had a section of gut that was worm damaged before she came to me and her colic symptoms were a flick of the head and bite at her stomach but my gelding broke into a field and overate for a couple of hours and was in agony sweating profusely and kicking at his belly and trying to roll. A simple muscle relaxant administered by your vet may well be all that's needed and a shot of pain relief... followed by antiinflamatory meds. Please always get Veterinary advice ... you will never forgive yourself if your horse dies as a result of not acting quickly enough.
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  4. jst4horses
    Please ask your vet and follow her/his advice. A horse can go past the going to die zone really fast. While I believe in holistics, and good practices to prevent illness or injury, it is really important to know a horse can and they do regularly, die from colic. One young woman turned hers out to trot to get the tummy moving, it killed him. He trotted around, and dropped dead. WALK your horse. If it is in early stages, see if the horse will take some bran mash (your vet will give you a proper mix) and more fiber, and walk, walk, walk, until the horse passes manure and urine at least twice. I leave mine in the arena even after they seem OK, overnight at least. If you do not have years of professional vet teching or experience with your own vet in colic, my thought is to never mess with it.
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  5. jst4horses
    Please ask your vet and follow her/his advice. A horse can go past the going to die zone really fast. While I believe in holistics, and good practices to prevent illness or injury, it is really important to know a horse can and they do regularly, die from colic. One young woman turned hers out to trot to get the tummy moving, it killed him. He trotted around, and dropped dead. WALK your horse. If it is in early stages, see if the horse will take some bran mash and more fiber, and walk, walk, walk, until the horse passes manure and urine at least twice. If you do not have years of professional vet teching or experience with your own vet in colic, my thought is to never mess with it.
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  6. jumpbuilder
    Ponygirl, sand colic is a big problem in Florida and I can imagine in several other states. Bran mash once a week is usually a good thing - some people use Mineral Oil, but that is a petroleum product and I don't like that...psyllium would be a good thing. I find that the natural oil angle is probably good if your horse is just starting symptoms, but one must keep a sharp watch about when to call the vet. If a person is new and inexperienced around horses, call the vet as soon as symptoms occur! and start walking!
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