Colic – Impaction Colic

Colic can happen for many different reasons, however, with winter approaching some horses may be more at risk of developing an impaction colic.

A horse with an impaction can show the same signs as a horse with another type of colic; dull and painful, flank watching, decrease faecal output, pawing at the ground and rolling. Some horse with impactions can be extremely painful, others can just look dull.

An impaction is a blockage inside the gut tubing, this is commonly formed from ingesta (feed material found in the gut) but can also be the result of a large worm burden – especially in younger horses.

Changes in management that generally happen around winter that can increase the risk of an impaction are; increase time stabling (and those horses who eat their bedding), increase feeding of hard feed and not drinking enough water. These factors, food with a lower water content and decreased gut motility, can by themselves or in combination result in a mass of ingesta sitting still in the gut causing a blockage.

Along with routine dental care and following an appropriate worming protocol, there are a few extra steps you can take to help prevent your horse developing an impaction;

  • Ensure there is always plenty of fresh water for your horse to drink (make sure it hasn’t frozen over). Adding electrolytes can encourage horse to drink more (though some horses may be put off by the taste)
  • Any change in feed should be made gradually
  • Switch bedding if your horse is prone to eating straw