The warning signs of colic come in various forms. The following symptoms and descriptions aren't from an experienced horse person but from an average guy with little to no horse knowledge, Me.
-Anxiety or depression---- To be honest with you I would miss this warning sign. I have no idea what an anxiety ridden horse would act or look like and in my opinion most horses look depressed the majority of the time with their long face and puppy dog eyes.
-Pawing at the ground---- I think everyone on God's green earth would attest to their horses pawing at the ground from time to time. That being said it your horse is “pawing” more then normal you may want to keep an eye on them.
-Looking at the flank---- Finally we’re getting to the good stuff. As I described so eloquently above a horse will flex towards their flank if they have a “tummy ache”. All horses will flex back to rid those pesky lil flies and mosquitoes but this will be obviously much more exaggerated and noticeable. If you have ever owned a dog with a sore leg and seen them lick the injured area profusely then you will get the idea. “Something ain't right”!!!
-Rolling or wanting to lie down---- Again we are faced with an action that horses will do on a daily basis and we have to somehow decipher if this is your horse wanting to roll in the dirt because you just gave them a bath or they want to roll around on the ground to try to ease the discomfort in their tummy. Everyone has been standing around with their buddies and a horse rolls on the ground. If you are anything like me and my family you stop mid sentence, look at the horse and laugh, then make fun of it when it gets up and shakes off. Again, the horse gods have decided to lump a perfectly normal horse behavior with a tell tale sign of a serious condition. Luckily they were looking out for us and decided to amp the more serious rolling up a bit. A horse suffering from colic will roll but again you will be able to tell something ain't right.
-Playing in the water but not drinking---- Again this is a behavior that is cute when your horse does it now and then but if this continues then dehydration becomes an issue. Be sure to see if your horse is actually taking in water. No time for willy nilly in the water trough.
-Lack of defecation---- Although this may be nice because there is less clean up to do it can be a serious issue. I think it speaks for itself on what to look for, or not. ;)
-Lack of appetite---- Well if your horse isn't wanting to eat then I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out that something just might be wrong. Moving on!!!
-Excessive sweating---- Hmmmm, I'm gonna shoot from the hip on this one since I live in southern Arizona and its hot here the majority of the time. If your horse is sweating profusely with little to no work then might wanna look into it.
-Abnormally high pulse rate---- Anything over 50 beats per minute might wanna be looked at a lil closer.
-Lack of normal gut noises---- So ya, I'm not really sure what a “normal” gut noise sounds like but I'm telling you that in a colic situation you definitely wanna hear something.
-Frequent attempts to urinate---- Again, are they trying to pee a lot but not having any luck.
Colic can come in many forms. Colic can be brought on by anything from a change in food, change in weather, ingesting dirt or sand or eating a tire iron. The most common types of colic are Spasmodic or gas colic and Impaction colic. These sort of speak for themselves and there are various forms of each. I could rattle on about fecal production and gut pain but to be honest does it really matter to me or you, the non veterinarian horse owner? I personally feel that even if I could tell whether or not my horse needs to poop or has a belly full of sand there is absolutely nothing I can do for either and I should call for assistance.