Colic During Horse Packing. According to vets, the number one reason for horse deaths is colic related. You can prevent having a pack horse with colic by using common sense. Colic is caused by changing feed too quickly, over exerting out of shape horses, allowing overheated horses large quantities of water, especially cold mountain streams.
I am fortunate as there is a small mountain several miles behind my place. Several months before hunting season I ride 1 horse and lead several more horses 2-3 times a week up and down the mountain to get my horses ready for long pack trips into the wilderness areas. Out of shape horses have been known to lay down when on packing trips. That type of horse behavior is a result of the owner not preparing for a horse packing trip.
1 week before I go on a horse packing trip I start my horses slowly on alfalfa cubes and graduallly increase their daily rations. At the end of 1 week my horses are getting full days rations of alfalfa pellets before I go hunting. I would much rather have a problem horse with colic at home, with access to a vet, instead of in the mountains.
Vet studies also show that up to 80% of fatal colic deaths are related in some way to parasites. Horses that have parasites are not receiving a quarterly worming paste. if you do not worm your horses regularly, at least worm them 1 month prior to horse packing to help prevent colic.
Additionally, a horse with bad teeth can not chew properly and will ingest coarse or partly chewed feed which can contribute to colic andindigestion.
Colic Symptoms are sluggishness, horse kicking his stomach, biting his flank, and constant rolling. If at home call a vet immediately. In the mountains administer an anti-inflammatory such as Banamine (for three days) and walk the horse slowly for at least one hour which hopefully will stimulate proper gut function. Always take 3-4 tubes of Banamine during horse packing in the event several horses colic.
Do not let your horse roll as it increases the chance of a kink in the intestine. Almost every year in the mountains I see a hunter, packer or Forest Service pack animal put down for colic. If you don't take preventive measures to prevent colic you will someday have to put down a horse or mule for colic. Talk to your vet so you are familiar with colic and insure you have an anti-inflammatory in your horse first aid kit.
Feeding Horses/Mules: I always use feed bags tied to a tree or use visqueen to keep feed off the ground. There is less waste using a feed bag or visqueen and also significantly reduces the possibility of germs. Germs increase the likelihood of horses getting colic.
There is much more information on the internet for preventing colic when horse packing. Just google horse colic.< back to Horse Packing Tips