These tips will help to reduce the risk of colic with any horse, but especially with horses known to be colic-prone. (For the “whys” behind these tips, search preventing colic in horses at HorseandRider.com.)
Feed right:what. Emphasize roughage; the closer a colic-prone horse’s diet is to 100-percent forage (hay, grass), the better. In commercial feeds, favor fat-based energy sources over carbohydrate-rich ones. Provide high-quality feedstuffs from mills that test for toxins.
Feed right:how. Provide multiple small meals rather than fewer, larger ones. Provide at least a little hay before feeding grain. Feed on a regular schedule or no schedule at all to avoid anticipation anxiety. Don’t feed directly on the bare ground; use a stall mat and untippable buckets or tubs. Make any diet changes gradually over seven to 10 days. Whenever your horse travels, make sure at least some of his current hay and other feed go along with him to allow for a transition.
Water well. Provide clean, fresh water at all times. Use buckets or tanks rather than automatic waterers to monitor consumption. Warm frigid water in wintertime.
Provide movement. If practicable, round-the-clock turnout is best. Provide regular exercise for more confined horses.
Be watchful. Observe your colic-prone horse especially: during seasonal changes or changes in the weather; for several days after he’s been dewormed or received other medications or antibiotics; any time there are significant changes in his environment or social community. (For a downloadable colic symptom checklist, search the phrase at HorseandRider.com.)
Provide basic care. Deworm on a regular schedule; have teeth checked periodically as needed.