Colic in your horse

What is colic?

  • Colic is a painful problem in your horse’s abdomen.
  • Horses are naturally prone to colic.
  • Colic is often unpredictable and unpreventable.
  • More than 80% of colic types respond well to treatment on the farm.

Signs of colic in your horse

  • Frequently looking at their side

  • Biting or kicking their flank or belly
  • Lying down and/or rolling
  • Little or no passing of manure
  • Fecal balls smaller than usual
  • Passing dry or mucus (slime)-covered manure
  • Poor eating behavior, may not eat all their grain or hay
  • Change in drinking behavior
  • Heart rate over 45 to 50 beats per minute
  • Tacky gums
  • Long capillary refill time
  • Off-colored mucous membranes

Caring for the colicky horse

Because colic is often unpredictable and frequently unpreventable, it’s a common concern for horse owners.


Erin Malone, doctor of veterinary medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine

Reviewed in 2018

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