The science of colic prevention
Equus|Summer 2020
The science of colic prevention

Q: In article after article, EQUUS comments on how rare colic is when horses are on continuous pasture turnout. But all the horses I’ve ever lost to colic have been out on pasture. I believe this is partly due to a slower response time because their problem went unnoticed for a while. In fact, during the past 40 years of my caring for horses I’ve had equal amounts of colic in pasture horses vs. hand-fed horses, and all deaths from colic were in the pasture-horse group.

I have to disagree with your observation and the information you give your readers on colic. I believe pasture horses are just as susceptible to colic as are hand-fed horses. I believe ulcers are less in the pasture feed group but not colic. I would like to see the data you use for your articles.

Name withheld by request

A: Before addressing your specific question regarding management ---particularly in relation to time on pasture and risk of colic----I think it is important to point out that data is typically generated from large numbers of horses, and within any data set there will be variability. That means that studies can tell us about the influence of management factors on average but these conclusions may not hold up when looking at small groups of horses or individual horses, because of other variables such as geographic location, type of showing, and preventive health care programs. Nonetheless, it is important to be aware of data, because lessons learned from larger populations of horses can be useful in managing individual horses.


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Summer 2020