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Think FRESH to help prevent colic

October 2021

The BHS and the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Surrey have launched a new educational resource as part of the Stewart Hastie Veterinary Student Champion scheme.

In an exciting collaborative partnership, third year veterinary students at the University produced evidence-based infographics on colic, one of the most common emergency call outs for equine vets. The aim is to help provide advice and support to horse owners/carers on minimising risks of this painful and potentially severe condition.

The students were in with a chance of their entry being designed and used as an educational resource by the BHS. The BHS were delighted to have the support of two judges, Dr Jane Nixon (BSc MA Vet MB MRCVS) and Professor Sarah Freeman (BVetMed PhD CertVA CertVR CertES ECVS FHEA FRCVS). The judges were both unanimous with the winning design by Suzie Bedford, who created the acronym ‘FRESH’ to highlight the different steps horse owners can take to help prevent colic.

Think FRESH to help prevent colic, by the BHS and the University of Surrey  FORAGE: •	Fibre first and foremost – aim for high quality and digestibility •	Feed around 2% of horse’s bodyweight in dry matter per 24 hours ROUTINE: •	Feed little and often – horses are adapted for continuous forage •	Avoid sudden dietary changes •	Think seasonal – gradual introduction to spring pasture and stabled forage EXERCISE: •	Essential for keeping food moving through the gut •	Aim for daily turnout and regular exercise •	The more they move – the better! STARCH: •	Small starch meals = safe starch feeding (feed only if your horse is in hard work) •	Feed a maximum of 1-1.5g starch/kg bodyweight per meal •	Cooked starch is more easily digested HYDRATION: •	Provide a constant supply of fresh water •	Buckets help to monitor intake   Created in partnership with Suzie Bedford for her third year veterinary medicine module to support clients with evidence-based tips to prevent colic.



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4) Archer, D.C., et al, 2006. Is equine colic seasonal? Novel application of a model based approach. BMC veterinary research, 2 (1), p.27.

5) Scantlebury, C.E., et al, 2015. Management and horse‐level risk factors for recurrent colic in the UK general equine practice population. Equine Veterinary Journal, 47 (2), pp.202-206.

6) Garber, A., et al, 2020. Factors influencing equine gut microbiota: current knowledge. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 88, p.102943.

7) Mitchell, B., 2018. The importance of hydration in horses. Equine Health, 2018 (42), pp.14-18.

8) Durham, A.E., 2009. The role of nutrition in colic. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Equine Practice, 25 (1), pp.67-78.


equine disease prevention

horse health

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