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TrustMeNaturally

Dehydration and Colic

We have an 8 yr old gelding that for all practical purposes is a very healthy guy.  
We test his hay (which is mostly grass, maybe 10% alfalfa) and balance his diet accordingly.  Hay is weighed - flax, loose salt, vitamin E, and Probiotics are mixed with a Ontario Dehy Timothy Balanced cube that is soaked and given once a day.  He gets a little bit of sweet feed only as a treat or incentive.
He is turned out on a rotating basis.  2 hours on his pasture, 2 hours dry lot with hay.  However, due to spring grasses he only goes out to the pasture 3 times a day (he is off pasture by 3:30ish). He is  stalled at night with hay.   Okay that is a little about him.  

What is happening is that after he has been out on his first pasture rotation (6:30-8:30am ), he comes in and usually gets a big drink and then dives into his hay.  IF he doesn’t drink, he seems to be prone to get mild colic symptoms.  However, severe enough to need 2mg of Bute.  His hair can stand on end, wants to roll, gums are tacky and pale, will not touch any feed (which is always our first hint something is off).  He does poop!!! Always! However, it is sort of loose-ball form, almost like he is dehydrated.  

After we give him the Bute, he usually starts to improve in about 45-50 minutes.  The trick is getting him to drink.  We have tried everything from putting a little salt in his mouth to pouring water in his feed bucket (yes, that has worked).  After about an hour, and once he drinks on his own and then he seems back to normal.
We have had Eddie since April 2007 and he has had one of these episodes at least every year, but this spring he has done this twice since March.  A total of 6 times since April 2007.  Now, we are beginning to get concerned.  Twice we did have vets in which resulted in tranquilizing him, tubing minerals, and then some.  In our opinion, was way over the top.
I am thinking this can be resolved IF we can up his water intake.  When he is drinking, he is fine!  We truly watch him like a hawk.  We are home all day and do monitor how much water he drinks.
I don’t know if he just forgets, the grass is wet in the morning and he doesn’t feel thirsty, or what.  After going through this so many times, we are certain it is related to him drinking enough water.  What can we do to make him WANT to drink more water?
Have any of you ever experienced anything like this and have any ideas?
Thanks very much!
Marianne and Lea
whisperingwindfarms

Have you had him scoped for ulcers?
bit

I'd also suggest fiinding out why he's having this happen.  (I know the Parelli's use molasses in the water to get guest horses to drink when they come for clinics, but that's just treating symptoms.)  Do you have a good teaching hospital near by?  Or a really good equine vet?  We are pretty fortunate to have K State 1/2 hour away, and they have a whole wing just for horses.  Really good vet there, too, and the students are amazing.  Scoping makes a lot of sense, especially if you can do something about the cause instead of just treating symtoms.  
Good luck and please let us know what happens.  We all learn a little more every time someone has something come up with their horse, and they figure it out.  It all helps everyone.
TrustMeNaturally

No, Erin, we haven't.  Had not thought of that.  We did try molasses, but no luck.  
The two times we had vets out, they tranq'd him, tubed him minerals, etc.  Never addressed the why.  We are certain it is linked to not drinking enough.  We have looked at things to "add" to his water to encourage it, but haven't tried them.  We have seen homeopathy, heard of apple cider vinegar, etc.    Happening twice since March, it know it is no longer a random thing.  I have a call in to a new vet to discuss "options."  I will bring that up.  Thanks a lot for the suggestion.  
Marianne
PasoBaby_CarolU

You said you've had his feed analyzed.  Are his salts all correct?  Sometimes they may have a high salt, say potassium chloride and their body tells them they have enough salt, so won't eat any sodium chloride, and hence won't drink enough water.   Many people think that if they offer free choice salt the horse will eat what it needs.   This isn't always the case.

I would check the salts (all salts) levels in all his feed and make sure they are balanced.  He may need regular electrolytes.  

I would not add Molasses to his water.
TrustMeNaturally

Hey Carol,
Yep, salts are good.  In addition to his hay analysis that does give us sodium and potassium, we supplement 13 grams of loose salt and occasionally during the day (if it is hot) we will add some to a little grain.  My daughter will even wet her hand and cover it with salt for him to lick off.  Sometimes he does, sometimes not.  According to Nutrient Requirement for Horses, he is getting enough and then some.  We are going to re-calculate all his nutrients (DE, protein, electrolytes, major and trace minerals) since we are getting in new hay.  We have high iron in our water, so don't know if that is zapping out some of his copper/zinc. His CU/ZN was in an acceptable range. We will double check those ratios tho. Definitely going to looks into additional electrolytes. And we don't add molasses to his water. Don't like all the added sugar.  We try to keep that minimal. Thanks for the suggestion.  This is really helpful and we REALLY appreciate all your thoughts guys.  I am certain we can get to the bottom of this!
Thanks, Marianne
whisperingwindfarms

I agree with Carol - I wouldn't add molasses on a regular basis either.  Mine get it warm in the winter as a treat only.

Check out Carol's suggestion about the salts - that would make sense.

Is the horse the nervous type to start with?

My vet says horses are like people - some need to go to the emergency room for a hangnail.
karmikacres

Water

How much is Eddie drinking a day? Salt makes sense to me. I would feed it to him in his grain.

Karen
whisperingwindfarms

Does he have free choice access to trace mineral salt?  Salt should never be force fed.
karmikacres

Dehydration

whisperingwindfarms wrote:
Does he have free choice access to trace mineral salt?  Salt should never be force fed.


Disagree, not all horses will eat enough salt. Some horses will eat WAY more than they need.

Karen
PasoBaby_CarolU

Yeah, might need to add sodium chloride to his feed.

You can also soak the hay and that will give him additional water.
TrustMeNaturally

Well, we really think his salt intake it okay.  His requirements are only 10 grams per day.  His hay only provided about .5, so we supplement 10 grams loose salt.  Plus he really gets even more than that during the day.  Lea, my daughter, will wet her hand, dip it in the salt and let him lick it off.  Probably twice a day.  Sometimes he wants it, sometimes he doesn't.  He has a regular salt block, and never touches it.  We do not give a mineral salt block because we are on iron overload here in Northern Illinois.
He is good on Potassium, and we don't know about Chloride.  He needs 9 grams a day, but our hay analysis last year didn't give us that figure. We will get it for our new hay coming in this year.
Karen, he is probably drinking about 7-9 gallons a day.  We really do monitor it, so we are pretty certain.
Thanks so much for all the questions and ideas.  Your input is invaluable to us!  
Marianne and Lea
Mandy'sMarty

Have you had your water tested? Recently?

I have learned that horses are capable of knowing the quality of the water.
Depends on the horse and the circumstances.

My mentor has made me aware of at least two different cases where the horse's issues were resolved by changing or improving the water quality. Both were on well water. Both situations were first identified when she, as an AC, asked the horses about their water.

From this, I learned to ask my mare about the water available to her. She taught me the link between the abscesses she and other herd mates were experiencing and the quality of the water in the creek that they depended on. The water quality changed periodically. It seemed to happen during growing season, more so in spring. My 'intuition' told me that the creek was periodically tainted by runoff upstream from chemicals applied to manage turf. Several golf course communities were located upstream.

One day I made the mental connection between a friend's gelding's new abscess and the recent defoliation along the county road where it bridges over the creek upstream from the horse farm. I realized that the defoliant had run off from where it had been sprayed around the many posts supporting the guard rails there. It was a straight drop from the guard rail posts downhill to the creek basin.

Since that realization, I studied Mandy's behavior whenever I rode or walked her to the creek. On one particular day, I watched her as she deliberately walked upstream and downstream, sniffing the water. It was similar to her behavior inspecting and sniffing horse apples in her pasture. This day, I realized that she was checking the water quality of the creek...fulfilling her responsibility as lead mare for her herd of 33.

My point is that I believe horses are capable of knowing when the water is bad. And capable of locating water that is good. When we manage them with only one or two water sources...and that water is bad, their only alternative is to cut back on the water they drink. I believe they make the difficult choice between drinking too much toxic water...and not drinking enough water and risking colic.
whisperingwindfarms

Re: Dehydration

karmikacres wrote:
whisperingwindfarms wrote:
Does he have free choice access to trace mineral salt?  Salt should never be force fed.


Disagree, not all horses will eat enough salt. Some horses will eat WAY more than they need.

Karen


I would not force feed it to mine.
PasoBaby_CarolU

I don't think anyone is telling you to Erin.  I can say that I 'force feed' mine electrolytes every time we travel or stay overnight somewhere else.   I've learned the hard way not to believe that horses will drink enough on their own.
TrustMeNaturally

Thanks so much everybody.  Well, I must admit that we have not yet had our water tested and that is something we should have done long ago. Bad on my part and something I knew I should have done.  He has always drank our water without hesitation, even though it is well water and high in iron.  
However, that doesn't mean that somedays it might be higher in iron or other minerals and he just doesn't like it.  So, we will do that this week. Another important thing to consider and I thank you all for your suggestions! These are very good suggestions and making me consider some very important factors.  So thank you all so much.  I look forward to hearing any other suggestions that are out there.  
Marianne and Lea
TrustMeNaturally

Hi everybody!
Many thanks again for all the suggestions.  Just a quick update.  We have up'd Eddie's salt intake and looked into some the "thirst aid" products.  We looked at KCLaPierre's Hydro Therapy Product and also Horse Quencher.  Not a direction we would like to take.  We were concerned that those products might make Eddie "dependent" on them and he would perhaps refuse  regular drinking water.  Then I remembered an article I read that also suggested adding Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) to their water to up a horse's drinking.  So we started adding a little (about a 1/4 cup) to a 2.5 gallon bucket and he really liked it.  So he has a plain water bucket and a ACV bucket!
So, hoping that by adding a little more salt and then the ACV to his water - that just might up his drinking. Not to mention ACV has a lot of great benefits for them too.  Our other horse, Scout, liked it and the mini hinny wouldn't touch it!  But then he is a fussy little donk! )
Thanks again for all your support!
Marianne and Lea
whisperingwindfarms

Marianne,

Google Apple Cider Vinegar - it's good for all kinds of things!  I love it!

Glad things are going better.  Read an article the other day - some holistic horse magazine - about colic and stress.  Sorry I didn't remember this post.  If anyone else saw it, post the link.
Mandy'sMarty

I would still be curious about the well water. I'd want to verify that nothing potentially toxic, like pesticides, has recently leached into the aquifer.
TrustMeNaturally

Just waiting for the water test to come back!
havingfun

This is the first year Navonie has not coliced from not drinking enough water when the weather got hot-topped 100.  The only change we made is loose non-iodized table salt in a feeder she can eat free choice.  The salt block is used but was not giving her enough.  She didn't eat as much of the specialized salts we tried.  Plain old 33 cents from the grocery store salt did the trick.
TrustMeNaturally

We have been regularly adding apple cider vinegar to his other bucket and he REALLY likes it.  He actually will drink from the plain and ACV.  He is doing a lot better.  Go figure!
We still have to watch him like a hawk.  But it has improved drastically!
Marianne
Clarissa

Earlier in this thread WWF suggested ulcers. I second that & the intake of ACV would indicate a ph imbalance in the gut. It might be neutralizing the stomach acid which is agravating the ulcer. Drinking water could also sting as it enters the stomach if the ulcer is inflamed if for example the horse ran out of hay during the night & went hungry.

Iron in water would cause some of your handfed minerals to precipitate & not be assimilated. Some handfed minerals could also inflame an ulcer themselves due to being ‘raw’ & not in a natural vegetative state complete with all necessary enzymes to buffer them.

Sunny Acres Ranch

Sounds like it could be ulcers. Since he doesn't act colicky when he does drink the water, I would be inclined to think the water is fine. You mentioned that if he doesn't drink and dives into his hay first, then he acts colicky. Is that right? If that is true, can you wait to give him his hay until about 15-30 minutes after you put him up to give him to time to drink first? If he doesn't have access to the hay right away, then it may not be a problem any more.  

As a side note, I have had horses go through salt like crazy until they get balanced, and then consumption almost completely shuts off. I trust that they know how much they need and it has worked out so far. I feed loose trace mineral salt and have it out for them free choice at all times.
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