Does Your Mare Colic While in Heat?

Cairo gave me a scare last night. I finished riding her, rather late in the evening, gave her the usual beet pulp, and then tacked up Flash. Afterwards, when I was untacking Flash, I offered them each some apple and Cairo didn’t grab it with her usual alacrity. I put Flash away and tossed them both some hay. As I started dumping Cairo’s buckets and refilling them, I noticed she wasn’t eating her hay.

That is very unlike Cairo. She is always hungry. 

I sat down and watched her, and to my dismay she nipped at her sides, kicked at her belly and stretched like a dog, then she looked at me and pawed. Colic. That’s one of those things that just strikes terror in me.

I grabbed her halter and led her out to the arena. We walked half a lap and she pooped. I wanted to believe the problem was solved, but she still seemed a little unhappy. I took her back to her stall and watched her again. Still not eating hay. I took the hay away and gave her some Banamine. Duly noted: She had pooped several times in the stall before I rode, once during the ride and once after, so my guess was this was not an impaction but maybe a gas colic? It didn’t make me feel much better!

I texted Jordan who owns the barn to give him a heads up I might be pulling a late night, and he told me he thought she was coming into heat and that he has changed the valley grass hay and both those things might be factors. Cairo seemed better minutes after getting the Banamine She started searching the stall for wisps of hay. I took her out and walked and grazed her and she made it clear she was hungry. I decided I was way too neurotic to sleep wondering if the Banamine was working all night or now — though at this point she was her usual up at the stall door bright-eyed self.

I went home, showered, changed grabbed a book and lantern and came back. My sleeping bag and stuff live in my truck and trailer so when I got back to the barn I walked Cairo again and then made camp in front of her stall.

Suffice it to say I did not get much sleep. Cairo on the other hand pooped (at least four times), peed, slept, wandered around and to my (exhausted) amusement she played tug-o-war with Flash with his feed tub through the small gap in the wall between their stalls. Every time I started to fall asleep the barn cat took that opportunity to massage my head with her claws. 

At 7 am, I blearily made Cairo some alfalfa mush to get some liquids into her (she’d drunk, but not that much) and watched her sharp-eyed to see if she’d kick her belly after. Nope. She slurped it and then she played tug-o-war with the dirty bowl with Flash again. I decided it was a good time to go get some coffee at the hippie gas station (because I live within only a couple miles of a biofuel station with organic coffee). I ran into Kari’s husband there and he noticed my bleary appearance. 

“Colic” I told him, and described what had happened. “You can’t be too neurotic,” I said of my decision to camp out with her. “Yes, you can,” he laughed (it was a nice laugh) and gently pointed out in his experience they don’t poop all night if they are still colicking. 

I got coffee, stopped at work to get my work clothes and went back to the barn. Cairo was hanging out waiting for more breakfast or turnout. I sat outside her stall debating what I wanted to do — turn her out? Leave her in? While I debated, she looked at me, turned around, shit twice then winked and squirted.

We all know that I love to Google and while (not) sleeping on the barn floor, I Googled away on my iPhone and discovered some mares have colic-like symptoms when in estrus (heat). 

Before I got Cairo, her breeder had a marble put in her to help soothe Cairo’s rather extreme heat cycles. It worked great for about three months, then Cairo began cycling. After a raging heat cycle in April, I tried medroxyprogesterone and it really seemed to help. As this link says, technically it doesn’t stop the cycles, but it seems to help the mares. She was on that for a bit and then I lapsed and actually all summer she’s gotten more and more chill about being ridden during her cycles. 

However if she’s going to act colicky during ovulation and give me a heart attack every 21 days, I need to ponder another approach. I’m hoping to avoid Regumate — partly the expense — but who knows? Raspberry leaf is sure not doing it! 

I went to the barn at noon today, and she was happily out grazing. I think she’s OK because at that point the Banamine was winding down. 

For the record, horses really don’t sleep much at night. Aside from one glorious flat-on-her-side snooze, Cairo did quite a bit of puttering around. Periodically, she would come to gate and Flash would hang his head over the stall wall and they would both stare at me like “Is she gonna feed us or just lay there?” 

Yawn. I’m looking forward to sleeping in my bed tonight. 

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