Cold nights, colorful leaves, and Halloween around the corner mean just one thing to the horse owner: Fall colic season is here! While we horse-folk enjoy the autumn colors and the first cozy night by the fire as much as the next person, we also know that the change in weather can be dangerous for our horses.Horseproperties

Why do horses colic more during the Fall?

Ask any veterinarian and they will tell you that they see more cases of colic in the Fall than any other time of the year. There are a couple of reasons for this increase in cases but the number one cause is dehydration.

As the nights get colder so does your horse’s water source, setting off a potentially lethal chain reaction. This causes him to not want to drink overnight or in the morning. When breakfast is served and there isn’t much water in your horse’s gut this leads to poor digestion which in turn can cause an impaction.

What can you do?

Colic affects ten percent of the horse population every year. That means over 900,000 horses face this life threatening condition every single year! In fact colic is the leading cause of death among domestic horses but there are things you can do to help keep the risks down for your equine friend.

  • Keep feed, especially grains and pellets, locked up in case your horse gets loose. Most horses will gorge themselves given the opportunity and a sudden increase in carbohydrates can lead to colic as well as other issue such as founder.
  • Don’t feed your horse on sand or sandy soil. As he nibbles on his hay, he will inadvertently ingest the sand which will not pass easily through his intestines and can cause sand colic or gut displacement.
  • Keep to a routine. Changes in the type or amount of feed can cause some horses to coli. This is especially true for older horses.
  • Feed small amounts multiple times a day as opposed to one or two big meals.
  • Stay on top of parasite control.
  • Have your horse’s teeth checked at least once a year and floated regularly. The first step in good digestion is the ability of your horse to chew his food well. Inadequately chewed food can cause an impaction in his intestines.

In addition to the above precautions, there are special considerations for preventing cold weather colic in the Fall and Winter. You will want to keep a close eye on your horse’s water consumption. If he seems to be drinking far less than he should, you can either soak his feed to increase his hydration or provide him with warm water to drink.

Also remember that horses are designed to walk for many miles a day and that their digestion works best when they are able to move around. As the weather gets colder, you may ride less and keep your horse locked in his cozy stall more but this can be tough on his digestive system. Try to make sure your horse gets at least a little exercise every day, even in bad weather.


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