COLIC is a word the world over that horse owners simply don’t want to hear. Common causes for this gut-wrenching condition are fairly well-known, for example you shouldn’t exercise immediately after hard feed; avoid sudden changes in routine, take care with the intake of cold water after strenuous exercise and the list goes on. But sometimes, as in our case, it just seems to happen.

It all began on a very ordinary Tuesday evening. I called at the farm on the way home from work as usual and Diamond was waiting for me, head over her stable door as usual.

She ate a little hay while I bedded her down and then I went to fetch her tea from the feed room. Usually, while I am preparing her feed, she kicks the stable door with a “Hurry up, I’m starving” sort of urgency, but not this time.

Walking back down the yard it was eerily quiet. No pony head silhouetted by the stable light, no wicker of anticipation and on entering her box, I found her lying stretched out on the floor.

Her eyes were dulled with pain as she tried to raise her head to look round at her belly, but it was all too much of an effort and she simply flopped back down, groaning.

The vet was with us super quick, as was Claire, our lovely livery yard manager, and at some point, the gentleman who lives in the cottage across the road (someone I have only ever met in passing), joined us as well. As it happened, that extra pair of hands proved invaluable.

It transpired that Diamond was suffering from impacted colic, even though her droppings looked normal and she had been passing, what I felt to be, the usual amount; but such is the anomaly of colic.

All that we had to do now was to encourage her to pass the impaction, but that proved to be not quite as simple as it sounds. The danger being, in cases like this, is that the gut (and horses do have rather a lot), can flip over on itself and then, you are in deep trouble.

In the old days, horses with colic were not allowed to lay down, just in case they rolled and I have heard stories of folk walking them around all night, taking it in turns just to keep them on their feet. Nowadays, thank goodness, it is widely acknowledged that, providing they are not going to thrash around, it is okay for them to lie down quietly and rest.

That night, with the assistance of Claire, the gentleman from across the road and of course our vet, a nasal tube was passed down into Diamond’s stomach and 10 litres of warm water administered. All the while she just stood there, stoically accepting our help, we didn’t even need to sedate her. A pain killer was also given and then the vet left.

We continued to monitor her throughout the night, with the gentleman from across the road volunteering to cover the shift until 3am, so that I could go home to see my dogs and grab an hour’s sleep.

During that time, I received regular text updates and even a photograph of a freshly passed dropping, accompanied by smiley emoji.

It took a few days for the impaction to clear fully and this was due in no small way to Claire and her wonderful team at the yard feeding D small bran mashes and handfuls of wet hay every hour, while I was at work and happily, she is now back to normal.

But I still have a nagging doubt, could this have been down to something that I had or had not done?

My vet seems to think not and has reassured me that colic cases often seem to appear in little pockets throughout the country, at certain times of year, and that we weren’t the only colic that he was treating that week.

Research, I understand, is currently considering fluctuations in both air pressure and temperature as a possible trigger in certain, susceptible animals, but for now at any rate, God is in his heaven and all is well, leaving me with nothing more to add, other than to wish you all a very merry, peaceful Christmas and a healthy, Happy New Year.