Different Types Of Colic

“Colic” is a blanket term used to describe abdominal pain; however there are a large variety of reasons which can lead to a horse developing colic. The aim of this piece is to briefly cover some of the common types/causes of colic, it is not a diagnostic aid and if ever you fear your horse or pony has colic, then please consult your vet as soon as possible.

Spasmodic Colic

“Spasmodic Colic” describes when there is a spasm in the (small) intestine. This can be triggered by any number of things but common causes include damage to the intestinal wall as well as eating and drinking too soon after working. Generally this type of colic occurs more commonly in flighty horses, however this is not a strict rule.

Impaction Colic

This type of colic occurs in the large intestine and is believed to account for approximately 30% of all colic cases. It occurs when there is a blockage in the intestines due to a build-up of feed or sometimes even worms in the case of a heavy burden.

Tympanic Colic

Occurring in and around the caecum and colon, this type of colic is caused by a build-up of gas and can be likened to bloat. It can be seen on its own but is often a secondary issue following on from an obstruction and is extremely painful.

Intestinal Catastrophe (Twisted Gut)

This type of colic occurs when a section of the gut literally twists, resulting in the blood supply to that area being cut off. In these cases, surgery is required and the prognosis tends to be poor.

Further Reading

Equine Nutrition & Feeding. David Frape (2006).