The C Word.

In humans, it's cancer.

In horses, it's colic.

I got that dreaded text at 7:30 this morning.  I was in the midst of dressing for work.  And after a week or two of beautiful Georgia weather, the night had plummeted to the 40s.  Archie had gone out in a sheet for the night, but the weather had been gross the day before.

I texted my boss that I was going to be a couple hours late.  Headed towards the barn.  Completely ill-prepared for the 46 degree weather.

BM offered to pull Archie from the pasture since there was a giant puddle blocking the route.  And, as I said, so completely ill-prepared.  I could tell just as she walked him up that he wasn't feeling well.  The other two geldings were grazing, walking around, and my boy just stood there, stock still and head not quite up and not quite down.

Walking him to the cross ties, I did the initial checks.  Gum color, capillary refill time, abdominal guarding, skin turgor test.  On all things, he looked okay.  I went to get a temperature on him and found that my thermometer was completely dead.  Derp.  BM loaned me hers and I found that Archie had the slightest temperature at 101.5.  BM showed me his feed bucket and when I held it up to him, he ignored it.

That is not my horse.

I called the vet a minute after they opened and requested that my vet come out.  In the eight years that I've owned Archie, he has never missed a meal.  The office called me back an hour and a half later and said that the vet was in a procedure another hour and a half away.  They said that he would get to me, but not sure when.  They advised giving banamine.  I called work again and told them that I probably wouldn't be coming in.  And then Archie laid down again, on the lead line.  Cue minor breakdown.

I texted BM about the banamine and she met me and gave me some.  I used to have it, but it expired and, since I never used it, I figured I never would.  There's my adage, biting me in the butt:  if you have it, you won't need it.  If you need it, you won't have it.  A quick IV injection (still have skills!) and more walking.

Vet got there at about 12:30.  By this time, Archie was interested in grazing and finally had loud gut sounds, but he still hadn't had a bowel movement.  Vet listened to about eight different places around his gut, took his temperature and checked his gums.  He said Archie didn't appear that dehydrated and seemed like he was in good condition.  I stressed that my horse had never missed a meal.  Also, he's a pooper.

He gloved up and did a rectal exam.  Archie had a lot of manure piled up, but it was dry.  The vet asked if there was hay in the pasture, but it'd been pulled when the grass popped up.  The reason he asked was because he said that the manure looked like winter manure.  He said that he felt that the dry poop wasn't moving through the system like it should.  So, he cleaned out all the poop and then sedated Archie.  A quick nasal tube and two gallons of water later, I had a "fixed" horse.

I asked what caused it, at what point I needed to worry, and when we investigate further.  I mean, worry more than I already was.  The dramatic 40-degree shift in weather probably led him to not drink as much yesterday and last night.  The manure dried out, stopped flowing well, started hurting, and eating became a second priority to alleviating the pain in his abdomen.  He said every horse gets a painful gut at some point.  We only start to look for more causes when it happens again.  I almost asked about doing bloodwork, but I figure this little visit is already going to hurt my checkbook.

You're leaving me?
He hung out in a stall for the rest of the day with just water.  I went home at about 2:00 pm, ate lunch, started this post and took a quick power nap.  Then I was back out at the barn at about 5:00 pm.

In the three hours that I was gone, he pooped and took a nap.
Per the vet, he got a portion of his regular dinner, soaked.  I'd also called the vet because Archie was super duper gassy.  He would scream and his butt would trumpet.  He would look at me and he'd be tooting.  He was also super affectionate, but that's nothing new.  The vet said he'd prefer to have Archie stay up with just water for the night, to make sure things were still moving.

He did not mind at all.
I left again for about fifteen minutes after he ate.  I went to the nearest grocery store and bought a gallon of Gatorade.  I don't know if he'll even touch it, but if he does, the electrolytes should help.

I'll also be adding electrolytes to his SmartPaks, which go out this Friday.

When I came back from the grocery store, he had another present for me.
Poop has never looked so good.

Last photo before leaving the barn for the night.
I'll be back out at about 6:30 tomorrow morning and I'll soak his breakfast and watch him for about half an hour.  If he looks good, he'll be turned out.  Fingers crossed.

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  1. Oh, wow! Best wishes to the Archer.

    We had a lot of mild colics at the therapeutic center when the temperatures would fluctuate wildly. (Granted, nearly all of the horses were 20+.) We figured it was a combination of being elderly, not drinking enough when the weather cooled down, and eating a diet of hay only (since they were in dry lots). Banamine and lots of walking usually sorted them out fine, although we had one very old gelding die last spring after spending the night having fluids IV'ed into him at the vet's.

    Hopefully Archie recovers well and doesn't have any more incidents!

  2. Carlos colicked under similar situation, weather fluctuations and dehydration. Electrolytes in his grain everyday after that and free access to a salt lick and he never did it again. Ramone's regime the same and hopefully won't have that issue again.

  3. Glad that he seemed to recover well. Colic is so scary. This post reminds me that I need to get some banamine!

    I have hue on electrolytes year round. Seemed like a good investment and so far I haven't been disappointed.

  4. Yikes! Fluctuating weather is pretty scary. One day its 80 the next 40 (WTF) I worry about it a lot. its prime colic weather. Jez LOVES Gatorade BTW, the low sugar grape flavor is her favorite. I mix it in a bucket with equal or sometimes double to equal parts water and she slurps it down. I bet Archie will love it too. In fact im going to give both my girls it today because if your post.

  5. I was so worried about colic this week. I loaded Bobby to the brim with probiotics and electrolytes, but there's really only so much you can do. Glad your BM was on top of things and you were able to get out there for him. Hopefully his tummy feels better today!

  6. So scary the things that can happen with weather. Happy to hear that Archie is doing better though! The happyness a pile of poo can bring a horse owner is amazing :)

  7. Yikes. :( I hate just hearing about colic, definitely not fun! It's great that he's doing better!!

  8. With the 40degree drop in temperature Monday night, I was absolutely terrified of colic. I'm so glad Archie is better! I was just commenting to myself the other day cleaning out Dassah's stall that I really liked the way her poop was looking! (she tends to have runny and w/ the right probiotics, it's shaping up!)

  9. :( Archie

    What an awful day for you. Fingers crossed he's 100% today.

  10. Glad the crisis appears to be over - so scary!

    It has dropped 40 - 50 degrees overnight, half-a-dozen times here since January already. I've been on high colic alert too. I feed salt -3 tbsp daily - split between Val's meal buckets (he ignores licks) adjusting up if the weather gets weird like this.

    Never thought about gatorade before - great idea. As much as my guy wants to share people drinks, getting some in him should be easy. Will be stocking a few bottles asap. Thanks for the tip. :D

  11. Glad everything ended OK! I second the probiotics...that will help keep things moving freely through the hindgut. Equine Choice is excellent. Also, make sure you are feeding loose salt if you are not already, to encourage lots of drinking!

  12. Scary. So glad everything turned out ok.

  13. Aw I'm so glad he's okay! The C word is so scary.

  14. Yikes what a day! Hope he is feeling back to normal!

    Henry gets electrolytes almost ever day too- i like to think it's prevents things :)

  15. I hate colic. Glad he's doing okay.

  16. Hope all is well now with him! Terrifying to be sure, but glad you picked up on his "mild" signs versus waiting until he progressed to a truly painful horse.

  17. That is so scary! This has also made me think that I should have my horse on electrolytes!