Maeve the orphan foal.

Colic is a term used to describe abdominal discomfort in horses. Colic can vary from a horse that has gone off its food and is flank watching, to a horse that is violently rolling around the stable despite having a large dose of pain relief. Colic can occur at any point during a horses’ life however some specific causes of colic have been associated with foaling.

Katie (right) and Maeve (left) playing in the field together.

Katie (right) and Maeve (left) playing in the field together.

Three years ago at Skelwith Stud we had a case of post-foaling colic. Sadly, in this case, Liz had to make the heartbreaking decision to put the mare to sleep because she was too poorly to transport to a referral hospital. We attempted to find a foster mare to raise orphan foal, Maeve, however we were unsuccessful. Mavee was hand reared and fed every 4 hours up until the time she would have naturally been weaned.  Maeve was a bit lonely in her first few days of life so Katie the Shetland- very kindly donated by the young Poppy Launder- joined Maeve to keep her company.

Young Poppy Launder enjoying a riding lesson on Katie with Liz whilst Maeve encourages her rising trot.

Young Poppy Launder enjoying a riding lesson on Katie with Liz whilst Maeve encourages her rising trot.

The mare suffered from a torsion of the large colon. Foals take up a large volume of space within the abdomen during pregnancy; after foaling abdominal organs move back into this space however, in the case of our mare, her large colon twisted during this process. A colon torsion is an equine emergency. In cases where the twist exceeds 270° the venous drainage and the arterial blood supply to the colon is impaired resulting in a breakdown in the mucosal wall; in turn the breakdown of the wall allows bacteria & bacterial toxins to enter the bloodstream and causes a widespread inflammatory response throughout the body known as endotoxemia.

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However this story does have a happy ending... Maeve the foal is now all grown up and has traded her field in for an arena. She has now outgrown her loyal companion Katie! :)

If you would like to learn more about breeding horses and stud medicine make sure you register an interest in the Equine Breeding and Stud Medicine Course; and if you do come and visit us you will have the opportunity to meet Maeve for yourself!