Horse colic and surgery

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After surgery, do you know this top indicator of horse healing?

My friend Ruth’s horse had colic surgery a while back. He is 22 years old. Tough old guy. He had an impaction that he couldn’t clear. But everything went well during surgery.

Fast forward two months.

He’s just not right.

He’s eating fine, but not as “interested.” His feces looks fine. The surgery incision looks great. But something is not right.


What else is there to check?

His personality. Since Ruth had been with him during this entire colic episode, she missed the fact that his personality was “dull.”

Not really depressed, but he definitely wasn’t himself. She herself said, “I’m just so worried about him, that I thought anything amiss was colic-related.”

Because I hadn’t seen him in two months, it was obvious to me that his normally perky self was very dull. In fact, his pasture mate had started bossing him around….usually it was reversed.


Why is colic surgery so hard on the horse’s body?

If you haven’t seen colic surgery performed, it is quite strenuous on the horse’s body. Since they’re so large, they must be hoisted by chains attached to their legs onto the surgery table.

Obviously they’re not awake for this.

But even so, that “hoisting” alone can completely misalign the horse. Then there’s all the tranquilizer, anesthesia, antibiotics, antiinflammatories and pain medicines. These pharmaceuticals are hard on the liver and kidneys.

In human medicine, it’s well known that anesthesia in the older patient can strain the liver and kidneys. With horses, it’s no different.


Takeaways for after surgery

  1. While the desired result of surgery (colic resolved, lameness healing, etc.) is certainly something to monitor, keep these things in mind as well:
  2. Many horses have ulcers after surgery. It might be worthwhile giving an herbal ulcer treatment for a week or two after surgery. Lots more on that in my Ulcer Report pdf here.
  3. Some horses have difficulty clearing the pharmaceuticals. A liver support product for 30 days after surgery can be helpful too.
  4. Most horses have misalignments after surgery. Once the horse has comfortably recovered from surgery, it is ideal to have the horse aligned.


Keep looking for the return to a happy personality. Once you have that, everything else is likely going well.

Btw, once Ruth’s horse was aligned, he walked away quite spunky! Ruth texted me later that day, letting me know that he was bossing around his friend as usual. #betterbossing!

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