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REACT: New research sheds light on deadly colic

1 Sept 2016



The British Horse Society (BHS) and The University of Nottingham team up to help horse owners combat the life-threatening condition of colic at today’s (1 September) launch of the REACT Now to Beat Colic campaign, supported by a brand new information video.

New research by The University of Nottingham found that more than 90% of horse owners did not feel confident in spotting early signs of colic. 

The evidence based research, revealed today at the BHS’s 2016 welfare conference, also found that colic accounts for one in three emergency veterinary call outs to horses. At least one in ten of these cases may be critical, and up to 80% of these critical cases result in death or the horse being euthanised.

In a bid to prevent colic reaching critical stages, the two institutions aim to educate horse owners about the wide range of issues relating to colic, in particular identifying the more subtle, early signs of colic. A comprehensive library of new resources has been produced to support horse owners in being prepared should colic occur.

The charity has also created a simple acronym, REACT, to help horse owners spot any early signs of colic:

R – Restless or agitated
E – Eating less or dropping reduced
A – Abdominal pain
C – Clinical changes
T – Tired or lethargic

Emmeline Hannelly, BHS Welfare Education Officer, said: “We know how daunting colic can be for horse owners, and a lot of people don’t know how to spot its early signs. That’s why we have created helpful, clear guidance on all aspects of colic with The University of Nottingham. The guides will support horse owners in dealing with colic; from its prevention to the worst case scenario of emergency decision making.”

Professor Sarah Freeman, from The University of Nottingham’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, said: “For the past five years we have been conducting systematic reviews of the evidence on risk factors for colic as well as different diagnostic tests. We have also generated new evidence on what happens when vets first see horses with colic and have run surveys, workshops and consensus voting to ask vets and horse owners about their experiences and opinions of colic. We have identified where more research is needed and generated important new information to inform this campaign.”

Further information and downloadable materials can be downloaded from the BHS website.

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