Bringing a horse that has had colic surgery home from the hospital can be nerve-wracking: Even with a laundry list of things to look out for from the vets, it's easy to second guess yourself. How can you ensure that your horse has the best chance of making a good recovery at home?
Horse Channel recommends carefully reading again the horse's discharge papers when things are a bit quieter and the horse has returned home from the hospital. This paperwork generally addresses monitoring, caring for the incision site, medication if needed and exercise.
General monitoring of the horse would include noting that he is bright, alert and responsive (BAR) and that he is eating, drinking, urinating and defecating (EDUD) normally. The vets will also want you to be aware of if the horse is gaining any weight he has lost during his ordeal and that he is not showing any additional signs of colic.
A close eye should be kept on the incision site, making sure that there is no redness, excess swelling or discharge. The edges of the wound should stay together, not gape or split open.
Depending on what type of colic the horse had, the equine hospital will slowly reintroduce your horse to his normal feed before he returns home; they will also give explicit instructions on how much feed and at what intervals the horse can be fed until he is back to his normal rations. In some cases, the horse will not return the diet he had previously. For example, the vets may refer a different type of hay be fed if the horse had an ileal impaction, which can be exacerbated by coastal Bermuda hay.
A horse that has had colic surgery will generally be on stall rest for four weeks, but he can be hand-walked and hand-grazed during this time. After that, generally four weeks of solo turnout is in order in a small paddock. At the end of these two months, if the horse has had no issues, he can typically be given full turnout in a group. When the horse goes back to his normal turnout schedule, he can usually be longed or ridden lightly. Most horses return to full training 90 days after they go back to work.
It is recommended that a daily journal be kept to track the horse's progress. It can include everything from his temperature and vital signs to how long he was hand grazed or how many manure piles he produced.
Read more at Horse Channel.
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