Avoiding sand colic is easy when you know how. Most people wait until the horse has colic, then have them drenched. Not only is this policy more expensive, it is also more damaging to your horse’s health.
Sand colic occurs in areas where the soil is sandy and there are periods of drought, followed by periods of rain. When the new grass starts to shoot up, horses eager for the first grass in many months, pull the whole plantlet up, roots and all, including the sand around the roots.
This adds up and is not eliminated with the normal digestive waste. Sand colic eventually results.
The common way to deal with this problem is to drench the horse. Drenching involves flushing the digestive system with a paraffin oil mix. Paraffin oil, a petroleum derivative, readily combines with all the oil soluble vitamins, flushing these out along with the sand. This leaves your horse nutrient deprived.
Petroleum products have no business being inside any being. Their use will have consequences on the health of the horse that are often not connected with the cause.
If there is no way out of a drench, then use a quality vegetable oil, such as olive oil (NOT canola oil, which is often marked just as vegetable oil). This will not have the dire consequences of the paraffin oil.
However, the easiest (and cheapest) way to prevent this build up is to feed your horse psyllium husk. Psyllium husk is sticky by nature when wet. It rolls around inside the horse’s stomach and intestines, picking up the sand as it goes.
You can see the sand neatly deposited on top of the dung pile or beside it. You will also notice that the sand is a different colour than that which it is deposited on.
You don’t need much psyllium as a maintenance measure. I have used between one – two desert spoonfuls per day for a full size horse and have no problems and lots of deposited sand. My pasture is sandy loam.
I first used it on a horse I had just acquired. I was concerned about the size of her belly. It seemed unnaturally large. I started on the psyllium and could almost see her belly slim down. In a single week she went from enormous to almost sylph link.
Avoiding sand colic is much preferable to treating an established case. I start a month before the rains start and stop a short while after the rains finish, or when there is no more sand appearing on the dung. Or you can give it all through the year, just to be on the safe side.