Colic can occur at any time of the year, but fall and winter seem to offer additional horse care challenges..
1. Your horse may not drink enough water. Horses will drink eight to twelve gallons of water daily. Ideally for the best intake, water should be 45-65 degrees. Electric heated water buckets or heater tubes and stock tank deicers can help keep water at the appropriate temperature. You can also consider soaking hay or adding soaked beet pulp to feed to increase water intake.
2. You may be feeding your horse too much grain. When it gets cold, owners may add an extra scoop of grain in their horses daily routine, thinking the additional calories will help keep him warm. However, too much grain, especially in one feeding, is actually a major cause of colic. Keep the rations the same and add an extra blanket to compensate for chilly nights.
3. Your horse may not be eating enough high quality hay. The process of eating and digesting hay will keep horses warm because hay contains a much higher fiber content than grains. But good quality forage is sometimes hard to come by in the winter. Try to buy the bulk of your hay in the fall to keep from running out. Always buy the best you can find and always check hay to make sure it is not dusty or moldy.
4. Your horse is not getting enough exercise. First, horses are meant to eat a little bit as they roam the plains. Simulating that process with pasture turnout helps. Turnout is good not only for a horse mentally, but it helps with digestion as well. The very act of moving has an effect on the peristalsis of the muscles that move along the digestive process.
By monitoring these four aspects of horse care during the colder months, you can hopefully avoid a colic scare.