Colic 101 - WTFruitbat?

Friends are making me :astonished:
A is BO, longtime (now retired) breeder.
B & C are boarders & personal friends of BO

B helps around the barn with chores: feeding, T/O, etc
C was until recently BM, but not popular with many boarders because she is prickly & opinionated < opinions often baseless
Both board 2 horses - actually B has pony & mini, C has horse & pony.

Yesterday I picked up A for a lunch date.
B joined us.
A casually mentioned that C - now acting again as unofficial BM, causing actual BM to quit

  • had said B’s mini was lying down this morning, did not get up when she went into his stall.
    But: “he was not thrashing or biting at his gut”
    So apparently noone did anything to check further on potentially colicing mini.
    Lunch at noon, C’s observation at 8A.
    We had a temp drop of 40 degrees from Tuesday evening to Wednesday morning.

After lunch we go back to the barn & I go with B to check mini.
A goes to get her banamine.
Mini’s standing, there is a small dryish pile in the stall - from ??? - but she doesn’t seem interested in doing anything else to check on him.
I ask her if she wants to check gut sounds, cap refill… Crickets.
So I check both - report good gurgling on the right, not so much but still apparent on the left. Refill is fine.
She asks me if the gut sound is a good thing to hear. I tell her YES.
I suggest offering a handful of hay, he eats that.
If he was colicy he seems fine now, I call A, tell her banamine can go on standby

Now my rant:
HOW can a longtime horseowner - at least 20-30yrs+ each, possibly more - not know how to do a simple check for colic?
How can a self-proclaimed BM think because a horse is not in great distress, colic is not happening? Or check further herself?

Couple years ago having dinner with A,B.C - B reports when she fed (probably an hour ago) C’s pony had “Green stuff coming from his mouth”
Does C excuse herself to check on pony? No.
After dinner I suggest we go to the barn to take a look at pony.
C & I go, pony is dribbling green from his nose.
Not a doubt in my mind he is choking.
I tell C she needs to call the vet.
She hesitates because “It’s Sunday, I don’t want to bother her”
I advise this kind of Red Alert is exactly why you “bother” your vet, regardless of time or day.
Vet comes & tubes pony.

I have had horses for over 30yrs, been around them for nearer 60.
How did I manage to get the elemental knowledge these 2 (3?) seem to lack?
The God of Fools must work overtime at that barn.


Tell me about it. Previous BM at a barn I was at asked me if I thought her mare was standing funny. Classic founder stance - horse had been foundering for 2 days in the pasture…


Alas, it doesn’t surprise me.

I volunteered for a week at the summer camp I grew up at. At the time of volunteering, I was 51 with over 35 years horse experience. I’ve seen most and done most.

However, I wanted to show respect and deference to the Barn Manager, a younger gal --late 20’s I’d say – so sought her out as to how she wants the barn run, etc.

Enter big 17.2 chestnut gelding who, along with 9 other horses, is on lease to the camp for the summer. Owner the camp leases from gets these horses out of New Holland in PA – a big, known dumping spot for hundreds of horses and very well known as the Home of Strangles.

Now, I realize that young barn manager has never seen a strangles outbreak in her lifetime because in the decades since I lived thru an outbreak, a vaccine had been developed --so I didn’t expect her to recognize it but…

When I pointed out the obvious thick snot, I jumped into Go mode and told her to isolate him immediately, to strip his stall, that I’d get the disinfectant needed to soak it down, as well as treat everyone’s hands, shoes etc to avoid spreading it. Lastly, I said he needs a vet visit to confirm the ok on using penicillin. Got the ok from the vet, got the ok from her to work the quarantine/disinfect plan and thought all was well.

UNTIL she comes into the barn with a needle & syringe to administer said antibiotic. I watch as this 5’ 3" little thing goes to STAB him in the neck! :o :o :o !!! I said “STOP!!! You’re gonna stab him thru the nuchal ligament!”

Took a breath and showed her a simple, old trick for finding the proper sweet-spot in the neck for IM administration.


Thankfully, she did it right the second time and learned a valuable lesson. How is the proper administration of an IM injection not taught anymore? Or am I just an old fogie?

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I don’t know the answer to this, but it’s not a new problem. An alarming number of horse owners and horse professionals (barn owners, trainers, etc.) are lacking a lot of the basics of horse care.

I’m not sure how we can even address the problem.

It’s not like there is any oversight for horse ownership or horse professionals.

You can put a lot of educational opportunities out there, but there is no way to force people to utilize them.

And unfortunately, not even economic forces correct the problem because there is a lot of “blind leading the blind” in horses-- for example, boarders might not realize their barn owner or trainer isn’t as knowledgeable as he/she should be.


My last barn still thought it was A okay to inject banamine IM :grimacing::grimacing::grimacing: and insisted every horse needed a huge wheat bran mash every Monday. The mash gave my horse horrible diarrhea every Tuesday and I had to insist they opt him out. Guess how I knew when they “forgot”? The Hershey squirts never lie. Sometimes the old traditions need to go away.


The reasons above are why I quit boarding and just got my own place. As quality of vet care has increased, horse care knowledge has rapidly decreased.


Thanks, All.
Well, at least I seem to be in “good”(?) company.
Still scary though, when what used to be basics are not in place :crazy_face:
I understand some Old School stuff - like endless walking for colic - has gone by the wayside. But some things need to be part of Every.Single.Owners.Manual.
Peroid. Full stop.

If a horse owner is used to their personal employees ( or barn employees) doing most things for them, they really have no clue when things are wrong and even less knowledge of when or what to do when an issue arises.

This makes no difference if they are a professional, breeder, in the role of BM or BO or a long time horse owner. When we allow others total care of our horses how are we ever going to learn?


My guess is that a lot of people don’t read, or what they do read isn’t from a good source.
When my mom and I got into horses we subscribed to multiple horse magazines and read them cover to cover every month. It was a good thing we did, because as it turned out our trainer/BO believed every old wives tale out there.

I don’t subscribe to magazines anymore, but I do spend time reading peer reviewed studies.

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When I was younger, I was a working student at a very high end dressage barn. Any time the temps dipped below 20° in the winter, the barn was shut up tight (every window and door) and I was instructed to put on every layer each horse owned. The worst part, they also asked me to feed each horse a hot brand mash at night check.

Not surprisingly, I’ve never seen more colic in my life than when working there. I didn’t last long before quitting. Yikes.

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They don’t read at all, they look at the pictures. I’ve heard this from multiple clients, when I’ve checked in with them about articles I’ve sent them, regardless of the specific topic…

I’m not surprised. And I doubt that’s limited to horses or their care.

I am baffled at the amount of colic ignorance there is with the average horse owner. I think someone’s if people have every only seen a few types of colic they just assume that those are the only types there are. Like I know people that have only ever seen impactions so that’s the only type of colic they think of.

My mare had a pretty nasty enteritis colic last spring and early into it everyone at the barn was second guessing me when I said she was colicing and not right. “But she’s pooping!” “But she’s drinking!” “But she’s eating!” I still have such awful anxiety over it because had I not been there nobody would’ve noticed there was an issue.

I once saw a group of Pony Club girls memorizing the types of colic by playing a game in which each person had to shout out a type of colic as they jumped a fence, one after the other:

“Sand colic!”


Genius, right?


This gives me nightmares. I’m so glad we have ours at home. Pony was laying down when I went to feed. She got up, but I rechecked as I was doing other chores. Down again. Quiet, but not right. Haltered, checked gut sounds, poop check, called vet. Banamine orally, per vet. Within an hour, pony was oiled, rehydrated (wasn’t too bad), tubed, teeth check, etc… We kept checking until the poop dropped. It was a long night, but pony was fine by the next day. Her teeth weren’t that bad, but she’s on mash now anyway. She passed the obstructive bit. Big chunk of poorly chewed grass in a missile shape.

@Red_Barn Maybe I need to create an Old lady version of that game.
No jumping, but maybe take a shot - :potable_water:

  • for each correct type, then for naming symptoms, then how to check for those

I like the cut of your jib, 2DogsFarm. :sunglasses:


Let me know when you want to play, I’m down.


Yep, plenty of BOs out there who proclaim themselves to be ‘experts’ when their knowledge is spotty at best. The most dangerous thing is they refuse to admit what they don’t know.

My horse would have died from colic if I had not insisted that his constant pawing and refusal of treats was a colic indicator. He would have been left alone overnight suffering. BO said he was just “being a dramatic jerk since his buddies were turned out without him” completely discounting the fact that the crazy pawing continued LONG after all horses were back in the barn. :roll_eyes: sure enough, horse was suffering from sand colic. BO then tried to convince me to not to call a vet, that she could give him some banamine and he would be fine. Yeah right lady. I called my vet and dealt the the BO lying to the vet about when horse’s warning signs started.

This same BO claimed to have been a vet tech amongst many other false accolades. Much happier now that she is in my rear view mirror.

On this topic- green-ish new boarder with a green-ish OTTB at our barn told me today that mare had colicced for 8 days straight last year, didn’t eat or drink, didn’t pass manure for a week. Vet was involved, told her to give bloat-eze so she continues to give this 3 times daily. She looked rather vague when I asked about ultra-sound, lab, and whether a trip to Equine Hospital was suggested. I am not at all sure she even knows what colic is!