Colic in horses is a term used to describe all types of abdominal pain, rather than a single disease. It can affect horses of all ages and types.
Colic can vary from a mild bout of discomfort that resolves itself, to something more serious that requires medical management, or worst of all a serious abdominal crisis requiring emergency surgery.
Every year hundred of horses lose their lives to colic, with some high profile top competition and racehorses among them.
Most colic cases are successfully cured medically, but 5-10% will require surgery. It is difficult to know which colic case fits into which category, as in the early stages the clinical signs are very similar. Therefore it is vital that a vet is called promptly so they can give expert advice and differentiate whether the problem is medical or surgical as early as possible. The aim is to start appropriate treatment as quickly as possible.
Any colic that requires surgical intervention has a much better chance of success if surgery gets underway quickly.
Signs of colic in horses