Weather Change – The horses will drink 20 – 25 gallons (or more) of water on a warm day and 10 – 12 gallons on a cool day. During Spring we will have cold fronts that come in. It may be very warm one day and then overnight, the temperature drops 20 degrees. On the day of the sudden cold snap, the horse does not seem to be as thirsty as the day before. By not drinking adequate amounts of water, there is less moisture in their digestive tract and the food they have eaten does not move along adequately for the normal digestion process. The gut peristalsis cannot move the food efficiently. Often times, it slows down to a stand still; the peristalses can no longer push down the highly concentrated food. This is one cause of an impaction.
Riding Your Horse for Long Periods without Offering Water – Always keep a water bucket with you in the trailer. Your horse needs to be offered water whenever possible during the day. If you are showing or riding always offer water every hour.
Horses Need Fresh Clean Feed and Hay – Colic may be also caused by moldy or bad horse feed. Horses cannot throw up! Once the food has been chewed and swallowed, it needs to go through the entire digestive tract and then out the other end. Horses kept in large pastures will smell of the molded hay and feed and not eat it. But, when kept penned up and that's the only thing to eat; they will eat it, just to survive.
Rapidly Changing your Feed: A part of your horse's intestinal tract is called the cecum which is actually in the shape of a pouch and is about 4 foot in length. This holds 7 to 8 gallons of feed stuff that was not absorbed by the small intestine. The cecum is a microbial fermentation vat that mixes the food stuffs for approximately 7 hours. It contains microbes that produce enzymes to break down the fiberous foods like hay, beet pulp, grass, hulls, etc. However the microbes are very specific and have adapted to breaking down the feed you ususally give your horse. If you have a sudden change in either the grains or the hays you have been feeding. They will not break it down efficently, because they are slow to modify and adapt to new feed sources. So, they will keep trying to travel through in a larger mass.
Worm Regularly to Prevent Impactions– Impactions may also be caused by worming, when horses are not on regular schedule. If a horses is wormed with a broad spectrum medication which kills many different types of worms, all the dead worms that were in the digestive tract start being moved out of the intestine just like their grains and hay. If all the worms are traveling together in one lump, this can cause impaction colic. If a horse has not been wormed in a long time, start with a wormer that kills just some types of worms and then finish up a few weeks later with one that also kills the full spectrum of different worm species. Worm horses every 3 months with wormer paste, this can be purchased from a feed store. Squirt accurate amount between cheek and teeth or towards back of mouth. Some wormer medications are apple flavored and taste good.
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