This morning we had a bit of a colic scare, which makes an interesting story.
The owners of the yard that I’m doing a bit of work for were going out to dressage this morning, so they turned out all the horses (except for the stubborn yearling who hates going in the field) early and I turned up about nine am, as they were loading up, to start mucking out. We decided that I should come in a bit later so that I was out of the way while they frantically plaited, washed, and argued. Then I could work in peace and quiet.
Anyway, I had just had a ten minute stand off with the stubborn yearling, who had finally decided that I am more stubborn than he, and was halfway through the first barn when the yard owner’s husband, a stockman by trade, appeared.
“What do we do for colic?” He asked gruffly.
Panic mounted inside me, but I calmly replied with “how bad is it?”
“I dunno. It’s one of the youngsters but I thought I’d come and get you first”. He’s a man of little words, but I managed to find out that the gelding had been rolling a bit and kicking at his stomach all morning. As we approached his field the rose coloured was standing dejectedly by the hedge. Uncertain of his identity, we approached him quietly and you could see he had been in distress, however he was now standing quietly. He wasn’t tucked up and didn’t have an elevated breathing rate, but I wanted to bring the pony in so I could monitor him for a couple of hours.
He was quiet enough to lead in, and I was informed as we closed a gate “he won’t like it. The last time he was in a stable he had his balls off”.
I chuckled to myself, but needed the reassurance of knowing the pony was close enough to grab if the colic worsened. As we neared the yard the pony stopped for a poo. Now that’s a good sign!
I put him in a freshly mucked out bed with no haylage and after a bit of calling he settled. I finished mucking out that barn and moved onto the adjacent one.
I could still see the youngster through the grills, and an hour later I was starting the final box. “He’s been really quiet” I thought, “when I’ve finished this I’ll turn him out again.”
With that, he suddenly made a noise. And another. I looked over.
“He’s got bigger!” I thought in shock, before realising that he had reared up and had his front legs over the door. I sprinted round to the stable, where he was now thrashing his front legs around as he seesawed on the door.
Simultaneously, the farmer appeared from the house. As we approached the door the gelding retreated into the stable, trembling. We calmed him down and when he’d stopped shaking I put his headcollar on and turned him out. Being stressed wouldn’t help the colic situation.
When we turned him out he immediately went back to his mates and tucked into the haylage, happy as Larry.
My conclusion to the colic symptoms is that this morning, the first real frost of the year, he had eaten some icy grass and had a bit of tummy ache, which went when he warmed up and the sun came out. Unfortunately it does mean that he’s at risk of it happening again, and if so may need stabling at night so he goes out when the frost has lifted. Frosty grass also has high levels of sugars, which means there is a high risk of laminitis. But that’s another story!