Impaction Colics

By: Katie Jones, CVT

Colic. This word alone makes most horse owners cringe with just the thought of it. It is a moment horse owners hope to never face with their four-legged friends. The term “colic” is actually a very vague term that refers to any abdominal pain a horse is experiencing. Colic is predominantly used to describe pain caused by the gastrointestinal tract, but other abnormalities may cause a horse to exhibit colic like symptoms. With the weather changes winter can bring, horses can be at an increased risk for impaction colic.


ImpactionThe gastrointestinal tract of the horse is about 100 feet long with most of it consisting of the intestines. Food initially enters the mouth and travels down the esophagus and into the stomach. Horses do not have reverse peristalsis; meaning, food can only travel in one direction and they can not vomit.   In contrast to other grazing animals, horses are a monogastric species only having one compartment to their stomach which is divided into squamous and non-squamous portions. Once the food leaves the stomach, it enters into the small intestines (50-70 feet long) through the pylorus where most of the digestion and nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream. Any remaining liquids and roughage is then moved into the large intestine.

The first part of the large intestine is the cecum (4 feet long), which is a blind sac. This area of the intestine has bacteria that digest plant fiber through fermentation, making the horse a “hind-gut fermenter.” The reason horses need to have their diets changed slowly is to allow the bacteria in this region of the gut to modify and adapt to the different chemical structures of the new feedstuff. After the cecum, feed enters the colon. Although the colon is a much shorter structure then the small intestine at around 20 feet, this area of the GI tract undergoes abrupt changes in direction and decreases in the lumen diameter; all of which causes it to be a common place for impactions.

An impaction is a formed blockage of feed stuff or other materials in the intestines. Although an impaction can occur anywhere within the intestines, there are several sites were they are seen more commonly.

Pelvic Flexure Impaction

The pelvic flexure is a portion of the large colon that normally sits in the left side of the impaction1abdomen near the left flank. This area is a common place for impactions to develop due the lumen diameter decreasing rapidly and the abrupt direction change. This form of impaction will cause a horse’s fecal output to decrease, if not stop. Pelvic flexure impactions are diagnosed via rectal palpation. Treatment will consist of a veterinarian placing a nasogastric tube down the horse’s esophagus and administering mineral oil mixed with water. The goal is to provide fluid to soften the impacted feed material. If the horse does not respond to the oral fluid treatment, the horse may need to be given fluids intravenously. Pelvic flexure impactions that do not respond to medical treatments or their pain level gets too high will eventually require surgery.

Cecal Impactions

Due to the cecum being a blind-sac, feed material enters and exits through the same end; predisposing impaction problems in this area. Cecal impactions are diagnosed by feeling a mass on the right side of the abdomen during a rectal palpation. The early treatment plan is similar to a pelvic flexure impaction (oral and IV fluids), but distention of the cecum can lead to rupture quickly often making surgical intervention a necessity to prevent rupture.

Small Colon Impaction

Small colon impactions are most commonly caused by fecal material (fecolith) after diarrhea episodes or meconium in foals. Miniature horses are predisposed to small colon impactions. Diagnosis can occasionally be done by rectal palpation; however, in cases where the area can not physically be reached, a diagnosis is made based on clinical signs. When a small colon impaction is secondary to diarrhea, the horse may exhibit a fever, a low white blood cell count, or numerous other clinic signs associated with endotoxemia (the presence of endotoxins in the blood). When the horse is systemically compromised, treatment starts similar to other impactions, but will also be treated with antibiotics, anti-inflammitories, and/or anti-endotoxic medications. Horses with small colon impactions may respond to medical treatment, but often require surgery if they continue to display colic-like symptoms after treatment has been started.

Colic prevention quite honestly comes down to management practices. Regardless the time of the year, it is important to provide high quality roughage and ample clean water. During the winter months, providing water buckets free of ice and at a slightly warmer temperature will encourage horses to drink even in extremely cold weather. Intestinal contents have a high water content which produces a soupy consistency as it passes through the GI tract. Horses should consume around 10 gallons of water per day, even in very cold weather, to maintain this high moisture content. Annual dental examinations will not only prevent the development of dental issues, but they will also allow the horse to properly chew their forage; therefore decreasing the chance of an impaction colic. Having a close relationship with a veterinarian will help in formulating a feed and management program to prevent impactions.

SmartPak Colic Care :




Thinking About Breeding Your Mare?

By: Marta Davis-Tetrault Powers, D.V.M


“Nearly everybody gets twitterpated in the springtime.”

– Owl, Bambi (1942) Walt Disney Company

There is almost nothing more heartwarming than a newborn foal as it stands and nurses for the first time. For a horse owner, watching a foal grow, learn, and develop a personality can be one of the most satisfying experiences associated with caring for horses. The desire for this experience inspires many to contemplate breeding a mare.

With that in mind, it is also vital to realize the path to the birth of a foal can also be fraught with exasperation, irritation, financial commitment, and sadness. There are many things to consider, learn, and prepare.

006_anoka-equine_2012One of the most important things to contemplate is your expectation for the experience. Breeding a mare, having a healthy pregnancy, and the birth of a viable foal is not always as simple as throwing a mare in with a stallion for a while. Success can be influenced by many factors not readily visible to even the most observant eye. Additionally, it is important to remember every horse is an individual and what works for one mare may not work for another. A young healthy mare’s likelihood of conceiving is far greater than an older maiden mare with medical issues. Because of this, working with your veterinarian can help avoid many frustrating moments, vexing expenses, and disappointment.

Before diving into a breeding program, your mare must be up to date on core vaccinations, be on a balanced diet, and have her teeth examined and floated if needed. You want your mare in optimum health to give her the best chance possible of conceiving and carrying a foal to term. Once you have decided to breed a mare it is important to schedule a pre-breeding examination. The goal of this appointment is to identify any current or potential problems your mare might have that could negatively affect her fertility. Potential complications can be treated or prevented and a more accurate prognosis for conception and pregnancy can be discussed. When you arrive for your mare’s appointment it is useful to bring any questions you have as well as her medical history including vaccinations, prior illnesses or surgeries, current medications/supplements, and breeding history. During the general examination your mare will be assessed on body condition (ideally a 5 on a 1-9 Henneke scale), dental health, health of coat, muscling, conformation, and musculoskeletal health.

Additionally, a specific reproductive examination will be performed during the pre-breeding appointment. This exam will include an evaluation of your mare’s perineal region, vulvar and vaginal conformation, mammary anatomy, as well as palpation and ultrasonographic imaging of her cervix, uterus, and ovaries. Depending on the examination findings, further diagnostics and treatment will be discussed during the appointment.

If you are thinking of breeding your mare, please call and speak to your veterinarian today.



Wellness Program


Anoka Equine’s goal has always been to provide the highest quality health care for your horse. With this in mind, we have updated our wellness program to provide your horse wellness-programwith excellent preventative care for better health and performance. A routine health maintenance program is important for the overall well-being of your horse. Regularly scheduled vaccinations, deworming and dental care along with good nutrition and regular exercise will help keep your horse healthy and happy and improve performance. Preventing problems before they occur makes sense, and so does saving money. The Anoka Equine Wellness Program does both. The wellness program is a comprehensive program that packages the recommended routine health care for horses in the area at a greatly reduced cost.


There are two programs to choose from depending on the situation of your horse. The Basic Program provides all the needs for a horse that lives in a closed herd with minimal contact with outside horses. The Boarding Barn/Show Horse Program is set up for the horse that lives at a boarding barn or travels and has exposure to different horses frequently.

In only two visits per year, we provide the basic physical exams, vaccinations, parasite control, dental care, Coggins testing, and nutritional counseling to help keep your horse healthy. Going along with the changing world of parasites, we will be doing a fecal egg count twice a year. After the results are complete, you will receive a specific tailored parasite program for your horse. You will be able to purchase deworming products through the clinic at a discount or from another source. The Potomac Horse Fever Vaccine will be optional with both programs.

Basic Wellness ProgramWellness Program

Visit 1 – March/April

  • Farm Call Fee
  • Physical Exam
  • Ophthalmic Exam
  • Vaccinations
    • EWTWN – 4 way
  • Coggins (EIA) Testing
  • Fecal Egg Count
  • Deworming Plan

Visit 2 – September/October

  • Farm Call Fee
  • Physical Exam Recheck
  • Sedation
  • Dental Exam and Float
  • Sheath/Udder Cleaning
  • Nutrition Consult
  • Fecal Egg Count
  • Vaccinations 
    • Rabies

*Potomac Horse Vaccine Optional for both programs at an additional fee of $21.00

Boarding Barn/Traveling Horse Wellness Program

Visit 1 – March/AprilConditioning Pic 2

  • Farm Call Fee
  • Physical Exax
  • Ophthalmic Ex
  • Coggins (EIA) Testing
  • Fecal Egg Count
  • Deworming Plan
  • Vaccinations
    • EWTWN – 4 way
    • Flu/Rhino Complex
    • Intra-nasal Strep (Strangles)

Visit 2 – September/October

  • Farm Call Fee
  • Physical Exam Recheck
  • Sedation
  • Dental Exam and Float
  • Sheath/Udder Cleaning
  • Nutrition Consult
  • Fecal Egg Count
  • Vaccinations
    • Rabies
    • Flu/Rhino Complex

Plan Details:

  • PHF vaccine is optional for both programs – either as a dispensed vaccine for the owner to administer or as a third appointment so the veterinarian can administer the vaccine.
  • In order to provide the cost savings to you, a credit card must be put on file with Kari, knowing it will be charged out at time of service for said amount.
  • There will be no refunds or substitutions.
  • If a horse dies or is sold outside of the practice area while participating in the program, a prorated refund will be given. Horses within the practice area may have their program transferred to the new owner.
  • If your horse has never been vaccinated before, it will require an initial series of vaccinations with boosters 3 – 6 weeks later. These booster vaccinations are not included in this program.
  • Horses must be over 1 year old to participate in the wellness program.
  • Dental care includes sedation, complete oral exam, and a performance float including bit seats.
    Extensive dental work such as extractions, periodontal pockets or cavities is not


Pricing: Please call Kari at the clinic for 2015 program questions and information!




Basic Wellness Program $ 591.60 20%
Boarding Barn/Traveling Horse Wellness Program $ 658.00 20%
Optional – Potomac Horse Vaccine    
Dispensed for owner to administer            $ 21.00  
PHF along with farm call for vet to administer vaccine            $ 76.00  

If you would like to enroll, please fill out the Wellness Enrollment form and fax or mail the form to the clinic. You may also contact Kari at the clinic with any questions and to schedule your appointments at 763-452-2682.

For a print out version of all this information, click here.



2015 Preventative Care Days

Preventative Care Days are select days, in the spring that our vets are localized to a specific region of our practice. Keeping the veterinarian in a smaller geographical area to perform preventative health care services, cuts down on travel cost allowing us to pass down these savings to you. Preventative Care Days allows us to provide savings to client without decreasing the quality of care that we provide to your horse in your appointment time. In addition, Preventative Care Days allows our doctors the opportunity to talk with aaepdentallogo300you regarding your plans for the year, or any concerns that you may have with your horse. During this appointment you can schedule all your horses annual health care needs including:

  • Vaccines
  • Deworming
  • Sheath cleanings
  • Coggins testing
  • Dental exams and floats

Farm visits allow our veterinarians to see your animals in their home environment and complete all procedures in a low stress situation. On site observations by the veterinarian can help them make recommendations that can benefit the health and well being of your horse.

Farm visits that are scheduled on a preventative care day will have a discounted farm call of $20 per client regular farm call is $53).

To take part in Preventative Care Days, please read the following instructions.

  • All sign-ups must be made at least 3-4 days prior to the appointment.
  • We ask that you are flexible with your appointment time . When you call the office select the day that we are in your region that works best for you. The day before your appointment you will receive a call with a 2 hour window of time as to when the veterinarian can be expected. On the day of the appointment the doctor will call you with an updated time of arrival.
  • Please confirm that we have the phone number that you can be reached at on the day of your appointment.
  • Payment is required at the time of service in the form of cash, check, or credit card to be run that day in order to receive the discount.
  • It is helpful to have owner portion of the coggins form filled out prior to appointment.
    > New Coggins form

**As regions fill, we will add more days as needed. Check back for updated listings.**

Region 1
Sat, March 14      FULL  

Sat., April 11th      FULL

Tues., May 12th

Thurs., May 28th

Oak Grove, Andover, Ham Lake, East Bethel, Blaine
Region 2

Sat, March 28th  FULL

Fri, April 24th      FULL

Sat, May, 16th   FULL

St. Francis, Isanti, Cambridge, Bradford
Region 3

Wed, April 1st

Tues, April 7th     FULL

Princeton, Crown, Dalbo, Zimmerman
Region 4

Tues., March 17th

Thurs, April 16th    FULL

Becker, Monticello, Big Lake, Orrock
Region 5

Sat., March 21st      FULL

Sat, April 4th   FULL

Sat, April 25th    FULL

Mon, May 4th

Wed, May 20th

Elk River, Nowthen, Otsego, Osseo, Anoka, Dayton, Ramsey
Region 6

Tues., March 24th

Sat, May 9th   FULL

Sat, May 28th

Albertville, St. Michael, Rogers, Hanover, Corcoran, Maple Grove
Region 7

Sat, April 18th

Thurs,April 30th

Monticello, Buffalo, Maple Lake, Montrose
Region 8

Friday, March 27th  FULL

Sat. May 2nd   FULL

Rockford, Greenfield, Loretto, Delano, Independence, Maple Plain, Medina