The Home of Rest for Horses has launched an appeal for funds to help ensure the continuation of colic research currently being undertaken at the University of Liverpool.

The appeal is named after Echo, one of the police horses caught in the 1982 Hyde Park bombing. Echo suffered frequent bouts of colic during the 20 years he lived at the Home, finally succumbing aged 32. Last year, the Home gave a grant of £147,238 towards colic research at the University of Liverpool.

Liverpool University Equine Hospital has been compiling a database of horses undergoing colic surgery since 1998, including extensive follow-up of every patient. The database was initiated by a donation from the Home of Rest for Horses and now includes details of more than 1,000 horses.

In addition to demonstrating patterns of survival and complications that arise after surgery, the study has identified risk factors and a significantly higher mortality rate in horses affected with certain types of obstruction.

Prof Barrie Edwards, head of veterinary clinical sciences at Liverpool University, explains the current position: “The short-term survival rate, i.e. horses recovering and being discharged from the hospital six to nine days after surgery, is now in excess of 80%.

“The surgery is constantly being refined but the major research effort is now being directed at trying to reduce the overall incidence of colic by identifying the factors which cause it.

“Once risk factors associated with various types of colic can be identified, it should be possible to reduce the prevalence of colic in the horse population by recommending changes which can alter these factors.”

Between 10-30% of the UK’s horse population will suffer a bout of colic during the course of each year, of which around 6% will die.

To make a donation, or for more information, visit: www.homeofrestforhorses.co.uk or (tel: 01494 488464).

Colic Research Symposium

The eighth Colic Research Symposium will be held in Quebec City next month. The results of several research projects funded by the Home of Rest for Horses will be presented at the meeting, which is an established open international forum to discuss both research and clinical aspects of colic.

  • This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (30 June, ’05)