Looking for ideas (or maybe a better description is grasping at straws)… I have a coming 17 year old ISH mare that has a colic history. I brought her home August of 2014 - we have our own small farm. I knew her previously however, as she used to belong to a friend - no colic history when she had her, however she was much younger - I don’t know if she did with the owners in between friend and I. She first colicked on me January 5/15. Mild impaction, chalked it up to not drinking enough to keep up with a major downswing in the temperatures (think -5C to -35C in less than 48 hours). Vet came and gave banamine, and mineral oil and gas emulsion via naso-gastral tube, and though she was slow to start passing manure that time and slow to start drinking, she was comfortable from that point on and we got her cleared up. In early June of the same year she colicked again - was much more accutely uncomfortable, had a different vet out (in our province the large animal vets come from the dept of agriculture - we dont have the choice of which one comes in an emergency), did the same procedure, though as soon as the tranq wore off she was back to pooping, so kind of assumed that one was gas. At this point she’s on small amounts of hi fat hi fibre grain, always coupled with soaked alfalfa/timothy cubes and loose salt and electrolytes, maximum turnout 10-12 hours+ a day, and pretty much free choice hay / forage. Both these colics were in the morning, the June colic was also associated with a temp drop but nothing as extreme. Make it to November of that year, and at 8pm one average temperature night and shes looking uncomfortable again. This time I am prepared - I give her a dose of banamine granuales that I have leftover from the last episode, a tube of emergency 911 paste that someone had recommended, and a bottle gas emulsion via syringe. I put the vet on standby, but lo and behold, within an hour or so she’s pooping and back to her normal self - she is a weaver, so when she stops weaving in her normal weave scenarios I know something’s up; when she starts again, I know the storm has passed.
Fast forward to 2017. We got thru the entirety of 2016 and all its crazy weather and even a trip out for training (where she was more high anxiety than usual) without a hitch. We have no arena at home so we don’t work in the winter, but they are still out 10-12 hours a day and overnight if we have a nice mild calm night. The fluctuations in temp have been present, but not always extreme. In early February we were bringing them in to feed one night when I noticed she was laying down beside her round bale. Unusual since she should be standing at the gate looking for supper, so I knew right away something was wrong. Lo and behold, colicky again. Administered the same routine and watched - within an hour she had pooped but was still clearly uncomfortable. Talked to the vet and we agreed that all they could do on farm was mineral oil and more emulsion, but she did not appear to be impacted, seemed like gas. Walked and such. She came around once and then started to worry me again, but then came around again. I finally went inside for a bit to let her rest (she likes to lay down but doesnt roll, so we let her); when hubby checked her an hour and a half later she was on her feet, and an hour after that was weaving and looking for breakfast. okay, gas colic, one off, whatever - frustrating, but it had been a while so no biggie right? She’s just a sensitive soul. Mmhmm.
Two nights ago she was colicky again at supper time (which is late evening around here). We did have a big cold snap on the weekend, colder than it had been for weeks - but Monday was more mild, even at night, and with no wind I was actually going to leave them out so they could chow on their round bales all night at will (we have 6 here total). She’s in the turnout closest to the house and I could tell before I even got off the deck that it was happening. Bring her in, same routine, same basic result as last time. Banamine kicks in, she has a poop and pee, lays back down. I got her up and took her for a walk then let her lay down and rest again. I can hear her gut sounds (both with stethoscope and my bare ear), and she has enough big farts that its gotta be gas. I listen up by her ceacum and that’s where the gas sounds like it’s pinging, so I was a little nervous but she seemed to be progressing so I continued to wait to see how she progressed. This time instead of sitting in her stall with her the entire time, I went in and out of the house at intervals so I could turn the lights off and let the others settle and see if she would rest, because it seemed that the resting is what brought her around the previous time. By morning she is completely fine and raring to go back outside with a normal amount of manure in her stall (she was up on her feet and looking much more spry halfway thru the night). Both episodes lasted about 5 hours.
If you are still reading at this point I commend and thank you. I have talked to the vets, but our equine specialist retired last year and they haven’t replaced him. The other large animal vets are great at the process of treating an impaction, but we only have one that’s really any good at trouble shooting other forms of colic (or anything horsey for that matter) and he’s super backed up. Now we have another specialist who comes once a month from away, so I will be trying to get her in to see her next month, but in the meantime I need some more outside educated opinions on what else I can do, or what I could be looking at here. Two colics in 6 weeks has me pretty worried.
Her current feed situation is:
A round bale outside with a slow feed net (that she is fine at manipulating)
Lots of hay inside
Half a quart of hi fat hi fibre twice a day, with a quart of timothy or timothy/alfalfa cubes soaked in a mash
Gets a tablespoon of loose mineral salt every feeding, gets 30mls Heathly Coat and 1 scoop of a glucosamine powder in her evening feed (Omega Alpha GLS powder)
Always has access to water and is a good drinker - water is always kept from freezing. Last colic in question she had drank lots as hubby had filled the tub she shares with pony both in the morning and afternoon, and had witnessed her drinking thru the day.
The only difference from last year to now is no electrolytes - but it has been that way at least 5 months. I put her back on probiotics starting today, and can start the electrolytes again, but I would like to figure this out without the spray and pray approach.
Our vet department leaves a little to be desired right now - our equine specialist retired last year, and they have not replaced him. We do have another specialist from another province coming in once a month, and I’m trying to get her in to see that doctor for a whole health checkup next month - but in the meantime could use some more educated equine opinions. Don’t get me wrong, the vets we have access to are mostly great - just not so great a troubleshooting a mystery like this.
Before retiring last year, the specialist we had didn’t think she needed to be scoped for ulcers, but that is certianly something I will be discussing with the new one next month.
If you’ve made it to the end of this, you get a fictional coth medal and I’m eager to hear your ideas. So go!