The Dreaded C-word…

So… the C-word has reared it’s ugly face again… (in a whisper) COLIC.  After having mentally prepared myself for years to say good bye to my 25yo TB gelding for when his time comes, I have had to recently say good bye to my favorite happy and healthy 17yo Holsteiner gelding.  Some things just aren’t fair.

pootsPluto, Registered-name: Remarkable was born and raised at the boarding barn where I have been a member for over 20 years.  He was bred to be a hunter/jumper only to despise the idea of leaping over wood x’s at a very young age.  His owner at the time, Cathy, also purchased his brother Newman, who (as siblings often do) showed Pluto up entirely in the hunter ring.

Once fully grown, Pluto measured a healthy 18.2h.  He was a dark, dappled bay with a star and snip and two white socks.  This doesn’t seem out the the ordinary, except when you see the size of his head and the almost clear BLUE right eye!  Everyone at the barn knew Pluto!

MRPAfter expressing his reluctance to perform, over fences or otherwise, Pluto spent most of his life learning how to point his toes in Dressage with Cathy, being sponge-bathed by adoring little girls and enjoying his time being leisurely ridden in the large outdoor rings at the farm (I cannot honestly put Pluto, leisure and indoor ring in the same sentence!)

When Cathy passed away, Pluto was adopted by the barn and my friend Sarah and I were given the pleasure of leasing him.  While I just enjoyed the comfortable rides, he was coaxed over the occasional fence with Sarah!

sarah and poo Sarah and Plutopoots over fenced Not the neatest thing over fences, but he tried!

plutiePluto and I

This horse never had a care in the world.. apart from cats, rustling leaves, the people door in the indoor ring, birthday parties in the viewing room, cross-ties, lawnmowers, hoses on the ground.. well you get what I mean.  He was a sweet horse with a HUGE heart.. and as we found out the hard way, a deadly case of gas colic.

I would never have considered Pluto to be a “hard-keeper”, colic-prone or otherwise. He never acted “girthy.”  He never refused his hay or grain.  I never altered his diet and he ate nothing additional beyond an electrolyte and a joint supplement.  He rarely had to step into a trailer and he never hit the show ring.  He was a very happy go lucky horse with strong hooves and solid manure! pootyWhat more could I ask for!?

The fact that he was a “spooker” is only thing I can think of that may have caused any digestive upset .. but it wasn’t ALL the time and mainly from his known triggers.  He wasn’t what I considered high-energy or strung-out.  That is why when the worst phone message for any horse owner occurred on my phone on October 7th, 2012, I was flabbergasted.

He went down in his stall the night of the 6th and refused to get up.  The farm Owner/Trainer, Suz, managed to get Banamine in him and get him to his feet but despite the efforts he simply would not show any positive signs of progress.  He was rushed to MSU (Michigan State Vet. Hospital) where they were able to provide him some comfort.   For some time he seemed to have recovery potential, but like nature itself, his prognosis changed in an instant.  He went from trotting along to possible recovery to galloping toward the bright light.  While surgery was always an option, the success rate, recovery time and costs alone made euthanasia the most difficult but most humane option available for him.

I wanted to share this story to spread colic awareness.

While Pluto was not a typical “colicky” horse, colic was the very thing that took him from me.  It is so important to be aware of any changes in your horse; be it obvious signs like biting at his sides, laying down, grunting, decreased gut sounds and trying to roll or not so obvious signs like behavioral changes, changes in eating patterns, etc.  The seasonal weather changes, especially the bizarre ones experienced lately, take a heavy toll on the horses as well.  Not only does their forage change with the seasons, but 60 degrees on Dec. 3 isn’t healthy either!

Please remember to:

– Gradually introduce any feed changes.

– Supply ample amounts of fresh drinking water.

– Inspect new hay deliveries for any suspect plants/mold mixed in.

– Let the horses have ample, natural exercise on a daily basis.

– Start a psyllium regiment monthly for sandy soil areas.

Consult a veterinarian for ANY questionable circumstances.

These are just my small words of guidance in hopes that you don’t have to go through the same eye-opening experience I just did… and 2 days after my Birthday 😦


Thanks for listening!

Lisa S.      Sales/Customer Service @ Uckele Health & Nutrition

“Understanding which parts of the equine digestive tract are associated with the highest risks of colic is can lead to a better understanding of the dangerous disease” Erica Larson, News Editor for – The Horse

Read the full article at The Horse – Equine Digestive Tract

About Dr. Kellon

Graduate of University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School. Owner of Equine Nutritional Solutions,, industry and private nutritional consultations, online nutritional courses. Staff Veterinary Expert at Uckele Health and Nutrition .
This entry was posted in Equine Nutrition and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Dreaded C-word…

  1. Shop-Pin says:

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  2. Pingback: Horse Colic, Signs and symptoms | Thistle Ridge Equestrian Services

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  4. Pingback: Don't go Off Course Again, 5 Short Cuts to Remembering Your Hunter Course | Thistle Ridge Equestrian Services

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