Equine colic is the leading cause of premature death in horses, according to the American Association of Equine Practitioners. Colic indicates pain in the horse’s abdomen and while there are dozens of conditions that cause abdominal pain, sand consumption can ultimately lead to a buildup of sand in the colon, which can result in a blockage or potential intestinal rupture. With sand colics on the rise, preventative care is ideal and performing a routine fecal wash will help you gauge your horse’s digestive health.
You'll need a one gallon Ziploc bag, access to clean water, and fresh manure.
Step 1- Create a glove
Turn the Ziploc bag inside out so you can use it as a glove.
Step 2 - Collect a sample
Collect a handful of manure (about 3-5 balls). Make sure you collect the sample from the top or center of the manure pile to avoid picking up surrounding debris. Turn the Ziploc glove right side out to create a bag.
Step 3 - Fill with water
Fill the bag halfway with clean water and seal.
Step 4 - Encourage breakdown and allow to settle
Gently squeeze the Ziploc bag to encourage the manure to break apart. Let the manure settle for 15 to 20 minutes.
Step 5 - Check for sand
Hold the Ziploc bag up and check to see if any sand has settled at the bottom, making sure to check the corners of the bag. A small amount of sand may be present (less than a 1/4 of a tsp.) depending on the feeding area. If your horse is being fed in a sandy area and no sand is present, save the sample and contact your veterinarian.
Once your veterinarian has looked at the sample, some simple steps such as changing the feeding location or starting your horse on a psyllium regimen may be required to prevent a sand colic. Dig DeeperTM and read the Emergency Colic Treatment article.