At Knotts Yard Veterinary Practice we have 24 hour emergency cover for horses and other large animals for clients in Norfolk.
Some of the problems that owners should be aware of are as follows, although if you experience any problem please do contact one of our vets straight away.
This refers to abdominal pain and can range from indigestion to a twisted gut.
The signs of colic are restlessness, pawing at the ground, sweating, breathing faster, kicking at and looking round at their abdomen, stretching the back, rolling and an increased heart rate.
Herbivores such as horses absorb goodness from their diet through their very long guts. This means they are easily affected by toxins too. Horses are grazing animals and need to trickle feed meaning they eat little and often all day, sometimes up to 16 hours a day, moving around to aid gut mobility.
Rationed hay, large meals and stabling for long periods of time are all common causes of colic.
Worm burdens, tooth problems leading to larger particles of food being swallowed, travelling, change of diet, stress caused by a change of routine or diet and over grazed paddocks especially on sandy soil. Horses at a higher risk are those which have previously had surgery on their intestines.
Try to detect colic as soon as possible and call the vet. This is an emergency situation.
If the horse is agitated and rolling, leave them alone in a well bedded down stable. If you are able to, and in a safe manner, it is advisable to gently lead the horse around to keep them moving. Do not allow the horse any access to water or feed. Think about when the horse was last wormed, or if they have eaten anything unusual prior to the colic. You can then give the vet this information when they arrive.
Choke has similar signs to colic. It is usually caused by a piece of food becoming stuck in the esophagus causing the horse to choke. Horses can become distressed, the neck may go into spasm and saliva, mucous and food may come from the nose and mouth.
Choke usually clears by itself but do call a vet for advice. If the symptoms persist for more than half an hour a vet should be called out.
Dampen hard feed with water and cut carrots and the like longways instead of chopping them. Chaff helps to prevent food being bolted by the horse.
A cast horse is one which has rolled too close to a wall or fence and become stuck, presenting with all four legs up the wall/fence and it happens most commonly in the stable.
They are unable to stand but sometimes can wriggle round enough to right themselves.
Take care not to get hurt by flailing feet as a cast horse is likely to panic. You may be able to pull on the mane to bring the head and forelegs away from the wall allowing the horse to scramble to their feet. Failing this a lunge line or strong long ropes can be attached to the underneath leg of the fore and hind limbs near to the fetlock. You will need several people on hand to then pull the horse over. Allow the horse to stand and settle before removing the ropes.
Check the horse for any injuries sustained or for a reason why the horse was rolling. Do they have colic for example?
Anti-roll bars are available for horses who are prone to becoming cast and rolling in the stable you can also bank up the stable walls with bedding so they cannot get so close when rolling.
We are available 24 hours a day for emergency care so if your horse is suffering please contact us on 01953 889750.