By now autumn has fully taken over. That means that the growth rate of grass slows down. Turned-out horses graze faster than the grass can grow back so this is the time of year to beware of sand colic.
In the autumn the grass becomes shorter but the horse simply goes on grazing and also starts to ingest sand along with the grass. This condition may remain hidden for a long time until the large amount of sand stops the gut from moving naturally. The gut comes to a standstill or becomes blocked and the parts higher up start swelling. It may also happen that the curve higher up contains so much sand that it changes position. Gasification however continues, which causes the gut to stretch and stop movement altogether. The only option left to relieve this situation is surgery. Early signs of a developing sand colic could be loose droppings or when the horse doesn’t have much forward-go in ridden or driven work.
Better safe than sorry
One of the most important measures to prevent sand colic when the field/paddock is close-cropped is to feed generous amounts of fibre. Another approach is to test the droppings for sand at least once a week. Grab a large fistful of droppings and pull it inside out into a plastic bag. Next add some lukewarm water and leave the bag hanging down for ten minutes so that the sand can sag to the bottom. A fingertip of sand is okay, but anything exceeding the size of a finger’s phalanx is reason for concern!