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Sand Colic

By: Galadriel Billington

9:00PM Nov 8, 2004

Any horse in a sandy environment is at risk for "Sand Colic." Florida horses are particularly at risk for sand colic. A horse may accidentally pick up sand while grazing or eating off the ground. The sand tends to build up in the digestive system. Since it just sits there, and doesn't move through, it can eventually get very heavy and uncomfortable for the horse.

I knew someone who told me that she helped carry six gallons of sand out of a necropsy.

You can check to see if a horse has sand in the digestive system using a jar with a lid, and water. Take a fresh piece of manure, put it in the jar, put on the lid, and shake up the jar. Shake it until the clod dissolves in the water. Let it sit.

Once everything has settled, look at the bottom of the jar to see if there is a noticeable amount of sand. If there is sand, then it's probably a good idea to take precautionary measures.

To keep the sand from building up so drastically, you can try feeding a psyllium product. Psyllium husk is a very fibrous non-digestible substance, which absorbs a lot of water and get sticky when wet. As it passes through the horse, it will (hopefully) grab up a lot of the sand, and force it on through.

My vet suggests feeding "Equate" type metamucil (the Walmart brand); she says it has the least amout of filler, and the most effective form of psyllium. The stuff sold for horses has a lot of filler and isn't pure psyllium. My vet says that it's most effective and cheapest just to feed the "Equate" stuff.

I usually give the psyllium in a bran mash, so the horses get all of it--it's powder, so they might not get it all if fed just in their regular meals. Some people also add mineral oil to the bran mash.

I usually give psyllium once a week. You can also feed it for a week straight each month, or 3 days straight each month, or whatever you & your vet think is best.
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2004 Galadriel Billington. All rights reserved.