Frequently asked questions

The owners of horses that have had colic want to understand what has happened, why it has happened, and how it can be prevented in the future.

These are a few of the questions frequently asked of veterinary surgeons:

My horse has had a colic episode, can I prevent another one?

There are a number of things that you can do to minimise the risk of further colic. Management practices and feeding are particularly important. There might be specific things that you can do to prevent recurrence of the type of colic that your horse has had, so talk to your vet about these. Unfortunately, any horse that has had a colic episode is more likely to suffer from colic in the future than one that has not.

I am buying a new horse, how can I reduce the risk of this horse having colic in the future?

You can minimise the risk by buying a horse with a known medical history that has not had colic. Avoid horses that show crib-biting/windsucking behaviour.

My horse has just had a colic operation. How long will he or she be in hospital?

This varies depending on the type of colic, the nature of the operation and the policy of the hospital. However it is usually between 5 and 10 days.

A horse on my livery yard has had grass sickness. What is the risk to my horse?

There is an increased risk of grass sickness on affected premises for approximately 1 month. However, there is great variation in individual susceptibility to this disease. Young horses (2-7 years old) are at greater risk than older ones.

My horse is on box rest following colic surgery but is getting very high-spirited. Can I turn him out early?

No, The abdominal incision necessary for colic surgery is very slow to regain strength. Premature turnout will increase the risk of incisional hernia development. Talk to your vet about managing this situation.

How can I help equine colic research?

Please visit our giving pages to find out more about how you can contribute. You can also volunteer to be part of a research study.

Can my horse return to its previous level of work?

Most horses that recover sufficiently well to be discharged from the hospital will, after an appropriate convalescent period, be able to return to athletic work. Many horses return to the same level of achievement as previously and there are numerous elite athletes (racehorses, eventers and dressage horses) that have recovered from colic surgery.

Can I claim on my insurance for treatment?

If your horse's insurance policy includes cover for veterinary fees then you should be able to claim. Most policies have a maximum amount that can be claimed but this is likely to be sufficient to cover all but the most complicated cases.

Will a claim on my horse's insurance, for colic treatment, affect my policy?

Yes, Most insurers will apply an exclusion to your horse's policy. Following a claim for colic treatment this will usually exclude any further colic-related claims.

Can I worm my horse and get vaccinated?

Vaccination can proceed as usual. It is safe to worm most horses 2-3 weeks after colic surgery but a few horses have special worming requirements. If in doubt, check with your own veterinary surgeon.

Can my mare have a foal after colic surgery?

Yes, but please bear in mind the strain on the mare's abdomen during service and during delivery of a foal. It is recommended that mares are not covered for at least 4 months after colic surgery.