Colic is a very common ailment among horses and ponies. It is not a disease or illness you can vaccinate against or permanently cure. However, there are several immediate treatments, including some homeopathic remedies, that can provide your horse or pony with relief and potentially even save their life. The most important thing to remember is to immediately seek the advice of your equine health care professional before taking any further steps.
1. Determine if your animal is suffering from colic or from a different ailment. Signs of colic typically include: not eating or drinking; lying down and/or rolling more than usual; pawing at the ground; kicking or nipping at the belly; standing as if to urinate, but not actually urinating; sweating heavily; standing rigidly and moving hesitatingly; and an absence of typical abdominal sounds.
2. Remove all feed and water so your horse cannot continue to eat or drink. In certain cases, food and even water will significantly worsen the colic.
3. Call your veterinarian. Report your horse‘s current behavior. Discuss treatment options and then follow the advice your veterinarian gives you before proceeding.
4. Halter your horse or pony and hand-walk it. The motion can prevent the horse from rolling and can encourage the passing of gas and feces. You don’t want to exhaust your horse or pony, so only walk for about 30 minutes. After that, allow it to lie quietly, or keep it haltered and standing to prevent rolling.
5. Administer an equine analgesic (pain reliever) and/or muscle relaxer only if instructed to do so by your equine health care professional.
6. Consider using peppermint tea to relieve some of your equine’s discomfort. Peppermint naturally relaxes digestive muscles. Boil 12 to 16 ounces of water and steep four bags of pure peppermint tea for 10 minutes. Remove the tea bags and let tea cool to avoid burning your equine. Fill the syringe with the tea and squirt into the back of the horse’s mouth so the horse has to swallow it (much like you would administer a wormer). Repeat until all of the tea is gone.
7. Apply acupressure to vital digestive points. Use the ball of your thumb or place your middle finger on top of your index finger and apply about one to three pounds of pressure to each point. Exhale as you press into it and inhale as you slowly release. This can ease some of your horse or pony’s discomfort, and can even help the horse overcome colic by restoring proper energy flow.
8. Stay in touch with your equine health care professional until the colic is fully treated, which may require a temporary special diet or even surgery.