Smart Tips for Lower Colic Risk

Read these tips from Corporate Sponsor SmartPak on lowering colic risk

From AQHA Corporate Sponsor SmartPak

Horses with a history of colic are four times more likely to colic again. Journal photo

Research has shown there may things you’re accidentally doing (or not doing) that are proven to increase your horse’s risk of colic. But, did you know that there's more you can do to help your horse cope with digestive stress than worry? SmartPak has outlined some of the proven* risk factors for colic, and included tips on how you can help reduce your horse's risk.

Changes in hay, including switching types or feeding a new cut, can increase your horse's chances of developing colic by 10x! To help reduce the risk, change hay as gradually as possible, ideally blending the old and new hay for 7-10 days, to ease the stress on your horse's hindgut. Also look to feed your horse the highest quality hay you can find, choosing a leafy, bright green hay with a fresh aroma and no signs of mold, mildew or dust.

Almost every horseman deals with a colicky horse at some point. Educate yourself by downloading the FREE Horse Colic e-book today!

Studies have also shown that horses fed large amounts of grain (more than 5lbs/day) are at a greater risk of developing colic. A smart tip is to make sure your horse is receiving 1-2% of his body weight in forage every day. If he still needs grain to maintain weight or energy, feed the minimum amount possible in multiple, small servings throughout the day, and fill any nutritional gaps with ration balancer or multi-vitamin/mineral supplement. Grain changes, including changes in amount, type or brand, can also cause a 5x increase in colic risk, so be sure to change grain gradually.

Sudden changes in exercise or activity level have also been shown to increase digestive disruption, increasing colic risk. The most problematic change is a sudden decrease in work and turnout, which is often associated with a horse going on stall rest due to injury. Keep your horse's exercise and turnout schedules as consistent as possible, and make any adjustments gradually.

Download the FREE Horse Colic e-book today to educate and prepare yourself for when colic strikes.

Horses with a history of colic are four times more likely to colic again, and that number increases further if the horse has had a prior abdominal surgery.  Be mindful of all the risk factors above, and work with your vet, trainer and barn manager to help reduce your horse's overall risk.

 Supporting your horse with a daily digestive supplement is a smart choice to help him cope with the occasional, unavoidable digestive stress. SmartPak offers six different supplements, from a basic hindgut formula to multi-purpose formulas, that are eligible for ColiCare. The program provides up to $7,500 in surgery reimbursement, and combines annual wellness services from the veterinarian along with daily administration of a digestive support supplement in SmartPaks. To learn more about the program, visit


*Cohen ND, Factors predisposing to colic, 8th Congress on Equine Medicine and Surgery, 2003 White NA, Equine Colic II: Causes and risks for colic, 52nd Annual Convention of AAEP, 2006