What to Do With a Horse With Colic When No Vet Is Available


Equine colic is always a veterinary emergency. While you should call your vet as soon as possible if you suspect your horse has severe abdominal pain, the truth is that it can take some time for your vet to arrive. While you're waiting, you can take certain steps both to help your horse and provide information for the vet when she does get there. Although a common equine analgesic can ease your horse's pain, do not give your animal any medication without veterinary approval. Don't leave your horse alone, even for a short time, if he's experiencing a colic episode.

Remove Hay and Grain

If your horse is colicking, he's probably not eating. That's a primary symptom of the disorder. Take any hay or grain out of your horse's stall or paddock, but continue allowing him access to water.

Vital Signs

Take your horse's temperature rectally and check his heart rate. Have this information available to give to your vet when you call her. It's one of the questions she'll ask, along with information regarding the colic symptoms your horse displays.

Check the Manure

Only a horse person who has been through a bout of colic with their horse looks upon any manure passed as if it were gold. Look for manure in your horse's stall, and note the amount and consistency. If your horse happens to pass manure, take note of that and leave it where it your vet can inspect it. While passing manure is a very good sign, it doesn't mean your horse is out of the woods, especially if he continues to exhibit colic symptoms. If there's no manure in the stall and your horse has been inside for several hours, that's a problem.

Keep The Horse Walking

If possible, keep your horse walking until the vet shows up. The low-key but constant movement of walking helps move waste material and gas through the gastrointestinal system. You also want to keep your horse upright, rather than allowing him to roll around on the ground.


If your or your barn manager have Banamine, or flunixin meglumine, available, ask your vet if you can give your horse this painkiller. While it can ease pain, it can also mask symptoms.

Line Up Transportation

In a worst-case scenario, your horse may require surgery if he's to survive his colic bout. That's not an operation a veterinarian can perform at your barn -- your horse requires transportation to an equine veterinary hospital, which might be hours away. If you have your own truck and trailer, hook them up and have them ready to go, if necessary. If you don't have your own equine transportation, call friends or a professional horse hauler, and make arrangements.

Stay Safe

Although you're worried about your horse, don't put yourself in a precarious position. If your horse is frequently getting up and down, and rolling violently, try to get him up and keep him up -- but only if you're not endangering yourself. Even the best-behaved equine can inadvertently hurt a person when he's suffering severe colic pain.

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