A hearty nicker. A brisk striding towards me. A vigorous head toss. A look from a very bright eye. An energetic pawing of the ground. These are all signs of good news from my colic-prone pony. Between previous incidents of her mild colic, I would get nickers, approaches, head tosses, and a look from her eye, but they weren’t as full of life as they have been the past three weeks. And in those three weeks, we’ve had several weather fluctuations that in the past would have triggered an onset of those symptoms I have come to dread: sullen expression, lowered head, low energy, and little interest in food. I think we may actually have made another step towards resilience for my girl!
I have my friend Antje to thank. After reading my first three posts on this topic, she became so concerned about Mya that she had to do something. She ended up sharing about an aid commonly used where she is using psyllium. I had heard about psyllium as a preventive for sand colic after I bought my first pony many years ago. Yet I had never considered it for Mya. After Antje mentioned it, and I thought about how I’ve only been able to achieve moderate resilience for my friend using other strategies, I decided it was worth a try.
The protocol is to feed psyllium husks one week out of every month. I ordered enough for three months and started Mya on the regimen on April 19th. Late April did as it usually does: subject us to fluctuating weather conditions. Each morning after a change in weather I approached Mya’s paddock with the mild dread that the past three years of her colics have embedded in me. It took me awhile, then, to recognize not only that the weather wasn’t triggering her symptoms but also that she was greeting me with more vigor than she has in a long time. Apparently the psyllium helped. She’ll get her next dose next week.
Since I’m seeing such positive returns, I’ve begun wondering why I didn’t try psyllium sooner. Since Mya has been to see a vet three times since her mild recurrent colic began, I wonder why they didn’t mention it either. The other day I pulled out my favorite natural equine health manual because I was certain psyllium was mentioned there. Sure enough it was, and it gave another reason why I might not have tried it. “According to a study at the University of Florida, sufficient quantities of grass hay work just as well at reducing sand colic as does the popular psyllium seed given one day per week.” (1) Mya is an example that a grass hay diet is not always as good as psyllium in dealing with mild recurrent colic. (2) Perhaps it’s because she’s a pony and ‘sufficient quantities of grass hay’ is relative!
I’m grateful to Antje and Equi-Aid’s Natural Psyllium Pellets for helping both Mya and I feel better.
- Emrys, Rowan. HorseSense: A Practical & Natural Horse Management Handbook Featuring Dynamite Specialty Products. Fort Collins, Colorado: Tarryall Farm, 2005, p. 54.
- Note that the psyllium protocol I used is different than the one referenced in the study. I fed daily for seven days out of the month per label directions versus one day a week in the study reference.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2014
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