Can you tell whether a horse is colicking or has ulcers? This is how my day began today.
I found Willie with his blanket torn, off to one side, wet and muddy. I knew whatever had happened before daylight was enough to cause a good amount of stress. He ate his breakfast of soaked beet pulp, but then did not want any hay. He then proceeded to display what I consider to be classic colic symptoms: kicking at his belly, turning and looking at his belly, wanting to lay down, restless.
So my first thought is to treat this as a case of colic. I walked him around the field, trying to prevent him from laying down but it was apparent that he wanted to, so I let him. And I stayed with him to make sure he did not roll, which he didn't. I used soft strokes inside of his ears to calm him. I went and got the Rescue Remedy, brewed a large cup of Chamomile tea and Peppermint tea. After these did not appear to give him relief, I got the Banamine and called my vet. I had also rounded up a tube of Gastro-Guard and Probios as buffering agents. After 2 doses of Banamine thru out the day, more Rescue Remedy, herbs and 2 calls to my vet, I knew the vet would have to come see him. He still wanted to lay down, had an elevated heart rate from the pain and his breathing was a bit labored. But he had good gut sounds, would periodically nibble at the grass and ate a lunch meal of soaked beet pulp with herbs.
The vet came and true to form, Willie put up a bit of a protest. He may be almost 30 years old, but he's not about to let anyone think they can just do anything they want to him :) With a tube successfully up his nose down into his stomach and oil and charcoal being pumped in, he managed to sling his head enough to knock me in the knee, get the twitch off and run across the field! He passed a big pile of poop after that though! Hee hee. So more banamine, IV this time, and a dose of Gastro Guard should have him feeling better soon–we hope!
He did not care for his soaked beet pulp at dinner but at the last check he was still up and eating hay. My vet has called tonight for an update and we have devised a plan of action over the next few days.
So after all of this, we conclude that Willie probably has an ulcer from the steroid he has been on for an auto-immune disorder and will treat him for such. So the symptoms of colic and ulcer have been blurred, making it difficult to say for sure what is going on.