This week we're going to discuss sand colic, and how you can help your horse avoid it. We all know horses eat best with their food on the ground, but in sandy environments, this can mean your horse ends up ingesting sand too. While there are some things we can do to help them (laying down tarps/mats, or using a trough), hay is a fickle thing and will still end up all over. They then pick up sand, which then collects in their intestinal tract. Because sand is so fine, it's extremely difficult for their gut to push through, and it just ends up soaking up the moisture in their gut. This is quite painful, and can result in sand colic, impaction, and even death if allowed to go on.
So how can you help your horse? The current, and most popular, method is to feed a psyllium and flax supplement like HorseTech, Inc.'s SandTrap + DFM. Psyllium is created from the husk of the plantago ovata plant. It creates a thick gel that gets into the sand in your horse's gut and helps push it through. The flax allows the gel to thicken slightly and become more "sticky", increasing its efficiency in the gut.
Psyllium supplements are typically fed on a "three weeks on, one week off" rotation. This means that for seven consecutive days out of every month, they are fed an appropriate dose of the supplement, then for the other three weeks they don't receive any.
It's important to note that while psyllium does help sand move out of the gut, it also acts as a lubricant for everything else too! As with most laxatives, it's important to offer constant access to fresh and clean water, and a salt block to encourage drinking and hydration.