We know colic is something no horse owner wants to encounter - as it is sadly one of the most common causes of death in horses. However, the prognosis today is far better than it once was, and this is a result of better diagnosis and treatment as well as developments with drugs and surgical treatments. The early diagnosis and surgical treatment of more serious cases is one of the most important factors in giving horses the best chance of survival following colic surgery - so calling your vet early if you suspect colic is one of the most important things you can do.  

Colic is a term used to describe abdominal (tummy) pain, which in horses is usually caused by problems in the gastrointestinal tract. There are over 70 different types of intestinal problems that can cause colic symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. As well as gastrointestinal problems, colic signs can be seen with other conditions, including; problems with the urinary tract, tying up, laminitis and post-foaling – these are known as ‘false colic’.

The clinical signs associated with colic depend on the level of the pain, and include;


  • Lip curling
  • Flank watching
  • Pawing


  • Lying for long periods of time
  • Repeatedly getting up and down
  • Posturing to urinate frequently


  • Violently rolling
  • Sweating
  • High respiratory rate

If colic is suspected, prompt veterinary treatment is required. Around 90% of colic cases can be treated medically and this can include pain killers, oral fluids, motility modifiers and gentle exercise. The remaining 10% of colic cases require surgery, which if to provide a successful outcome must be identified and referred to a surgical facility as soon as possible. As a practice, the majority of our surgical colics are referred to Leahurst Equine Hospital for surgery where they have an 80% recovery rate (survival to discharge home). It is important that several factors are considered prior to surgery such as the cost, prognosis and aftercare. Horses require around 4 months of box rest following colic surgery.

There are several things that we use in order to establish if a case of colic will require surgery. These include; findings on rectal exam, the presence of gastric reflux, a persistently high heart rate and no or little response to pain relief.

When responding to a colic, we will ask for a full history of the horse from the owner/groom and then complete a thorough clinical and rectal examination (under sedation for the safety of both the horse and vet). In some cases, further diagnostic tests may be required in order to provide more information on the possible type or cause of the colic and the most appropriate treatment. These include passing a nasogastric tube (stomach tube), abdominocentesis (belly tap), abdominal scans and blood analysis. 

Horses that show stereotypical behaviour or have a history of colic are at greater risk of developing colic. In order to reduce the likelihood of colic in your horse there are steps you can take as an owner, such as;

  • Providing a supply of fresh water
  • Making any changes to the feeding routine slowly over 2-3 weeks
  • Allowing access to turnout and exercise
  • Providing appropriate worming control
  • Ensuring regular (at least annual) dental treatment

Unfortunately, colic can happen no matter our best efforts. Ensure you've got a colic REACT plan in place in case the emergency arises – learn the signs of colic and make a plan.

Would you know what to do if your horse needed to be referred to an equine hospital? Would the cost of the hospital treatment and/or surgery be covered by your insurance? If the yard manager can’t contact you, do they know what you would want to happen to your horse? Have you got transport or details of 24/7 transport companies? Would you refer your horse or would you decide euthanasia? It is important to make an informed decision now, rather than a panicked, emotional decision which could cause you to question your choices in retrospect.

Again, colic is one of the most common emergencies seen in horses. Please call us as soon as colic is suspected for the best possible outcome. 

We always come to you! We have hospital-grade veterinary and diagnostic tools which are entirely mobile, which means you have the convenience of keeping your horse right where they are.
We are proud to be a local, family-run practice, and if your horse needs specialist treatment, we are free to refer them to the top experts in the country for their specific needs, not where a corporate dictates.
Over 20 years as a practice we have built an outstanding reputation for trustworthy care, treatment and professionalism - and our team of vets have devoted their careers exclusively to equine medicine.
We offer an out-of-hours service for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year so you always have our support and your peace of mind.

Our Services



Routine castration of colts can be performed at your home stables, ideally during the spring or autumn.
Dental Care

Dental Care

We provide expert routine dental care and examinations - as the condition of your horse’s mouth plays such an important role in their overall health and welfare.


We know that emergencies can happen any time of the day or night - and we offer the assurance that you always have the veterinary support you need standing by. We offer our own in-house emergency cover, meaning you will always see one of our vets in your time of need.
Equipment and Diagnostics

Equipment and Diagnostics

We are proud to be a fully ambulatory practice and welcome the fact that modern mobile technology allows us to effectively deliver treatment and diagnoses at the convenience of your stable.
Euthanasia and Equine Bereavement

Euthanasia and Equine Bereavement

We are privileged in veterinary medicine to have the ability to end suffering, and have a responsibility to work with you to do so in a way that is painless and minimises stress for all involved.


Gastroscopy continues to be the only reliable method for the diagnosis of gastric ulcers in horses. At Agnew, we offer this service using our mobile equipment at your home stables to avoid any additional stress caused by transporting your horse or pony.
Internal Medicine

Internal Medicine

We examine horses for a wide range of medical problems including weight loss, diarrhoea, respiratory disease, urinary disorders and skin disease right at your stables.
Laboratory Services

Laboratory Services

We have close links with a number of outstanding veterinary clinical laboratories in Newmarket and around the country - and we are able to choose the most appropriate and experienced lab depending on what we are testing for.
Lameness Investigations

Lameness Investigations

Our vets have a great reputation for their lameness investigations at the convenience of your own stables. Stuart is one of only 21 vets in the country who is an Advanced Practitioner in Equine Orthopaedics.
Pre-Purchase Exams (Vettings)

Pre-Purchase Exams (Vettings)

Vettings are very important and are one of the most consequential things you’ll ask your vet to do – because purchasing a horse is a big decision! On that basis, Robin, Arnie & Stuart carry out the majority of our vettings as we feel experience is key to delivering the best outcome for you and the horse.
Reproductive Services

Reproductive Services

We offer a variety of reproductive services for your mare including artificial insemination, ultrasound scanning and pregnancy diagnosis, twin pregnancy management, foal management and vaccinations to prevent abortion.
Routine Health Care

Routine Health Care

At Agnew Equine, we believe that keeping your horse happy and healthy starts with Routine Preventative Care; vaccinations, regular dentistry, parasite control are fundamental to the well-being of your horse and doing all you can to ensure they live long and healthy lives.


As an independent practice, our vets at Agnew Equine are able to review each case and, where necessary, recommend referral to the most appropriate hospital in the circumstances to help with the specialised care of your horse or pony.
“My best advice is register with Agnew Equine - they are the best!” Louisa Kelly
“Love these vets - wouldn’t go anywhere else! Fantastic.” Paulina Nicholls
“A great team of vets! Calm, caring, experts with a professional manner” Kelly Pope
“Best vets anyone could have. Fantastic in all ways.” Angela Frost
“By far the most attentive and polite practice I’ve come across”
Agnew EquineHot Lane Farm, Hot LaneBiddulph MoorStoke-on-TrentStaffordshireST8 7HP01782 510502find us
Opening Hours
Monday to Friday
8.30am - 5.30pm
In An Emergency

We offer an out-of-hours service for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Simply call the practice on 01782 510502 to access our support.

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