From Endurance to Dressage
For most equestrians, there is no such thing as a "minor" colic. For us, every colic feels like a pretty, huge, major crisis. Am I right?
On Thanksgiving morning, Izzy was NQR - not quite right for the uninitiated. NQR is really hard to see, so when someone asks what's wrong, the answer sounds overly dramatic: Well, he walked away from me. His poop is kind of ploppy. He laid down but then got back up. He pawed once. Those are not things that should raise an eyebrow. Put them all together though, and you're likely looking at a horse that is about to have a serious problem.
If you're ever in a crisis situation, I am your gal. I do not freak out, ever. Once the dust has settled, yes, I sometimes fall apart out, but never during. While I was grooming Izzy, the ranch owner told me what she had observed that morning - a weird roll accompanied by some pawing and some seriously sloppy poop. I listened and watched my big brown horse. I agreed that those things put together didn't sound good.
I didn't panic though. I exchanged my grooming bucket for a thermometer and stethoscope and then worked the problem. Izzy's temperature was a healthy 99.6 degrees. His gut sounds were noisy, but that was preferable to quiet which is what he had at the show in early November. His skin tenting was excellent and his capillary refill time was instant, all signs of a hydrated horse. All systems looked normal except that he had very loose stools, and even more telling was that he didn't want anything to do with me. I called the vet.
Since it was Thanksgiving day, the office was closed, but Dr. Gonzalez gave me a call back. I gave him a quick run down of Izzy's symptoms and asked what he thought. Right away he told me what he would do if he came out - sedation, painkiller, tubing, and electrolytes. I told him what I had on hand - a brand new tube of Banamine paste and powdered electrolytes.
While Dr. Gonzalez knows me, he's not my regular vet. We know each other, but not well. Dr. Tolley, my vet of nearly twenty years, knows how I do things, and I know how he does things. We frequently discuss treatments over the phone, and he knows what I am comfortable doing. Working with Dr. Gonzalez was a little harder because we don't have that same relationship. In the end, we worked out a plan that I would follow by myself. I told him to enjoy his Thanksgiving dinner with family and that I would call later in the day if Izzy didn't respond well.
Dr. Gonzalez's treatment plan included a long list of items:
LikeI knew he would, Izzy happily lapped and slurped water for several minutes. Over the next fifteen minutes he returned to his water trough several times for longer and longer draughts of water. By then, I knew he would probably just improve with time, so the ranch owner and I agreed that she would come out every few hours and check on him.
Throughout the day she texted me photos of his poop piles. Each one was more solid than the one before. Only horse people, right? By early evening, his poop was firm and he was obviously hungry. She fed him the hay we had pulled out earlier in the morning.
By Friday morning, Izzy was bright eyed and starving. The ranch owner gave him a slightly smaller breakfast than normal with the plan to feed again at lunchtime. I cleaned his poop piles, counting as I went. They were all firm and solid. His gut sounds were strong and steady, and his capillary refill was instant. I called Bakersfield Large Animal Hospital and asked to speak with Dr. Tolley.
I explained what Dr. Gonzalez and I had discussed even though Dr. Gonzalez had already talked it over with Dr. Tolley. Dr. Tolley agreed with the treatment and asked me to add a week or so of Psyllium just in case it was a sand colic. I also added extra water to his beet pulp and gave him electrolytes through the weekend. Since everything looked great, Dr. Tolley said I could ride on Saturday which I did.
In the end, we think that since Izzy didn't get his regular beet pulp ration (which is loaded with water) while I was visiting my parents, he might have been a bit dehydrated. I rode him lightly on Wednesday afternoon, and he drank a ton on Wednesday night. What we saw on Thursday morning might have been a small impaction working itself free, but who knows.
Colic isn't something to take lightly, but it's always a relief when it's just a mild version. While It might seem a bit costly to keep so many medications on hand, it's a lot cheaper than an emergency vet visit on a holiday.
Thanksgiving gave me a lot to be thankful for.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: