When it comes to colic episodes, the sooner you realize your horse is in trouble, the better the chance of your horse surviving the colic. Unfortunately, it’s hard to keep a constant eye on your horse when he’s out to pasture or once you leave the barn to go to work or to go to sleep for the night.
Technology is stepping up to help horse owners monitor their horses for colic and health issues, even when they can’t be there with their horses in person. Consider using these four options in your barn.
The Nightwatch “smart halter” monitors your horse’s biometrics and sends alerts to your smartphone if your horse appears to be in distress. The technology within the halter tracks your horse’s heart and respiratory rate, and it can even recognize your horse’s activity, motion, and posture. This halter can alert you to potential issues, and it comes complete with a GPS to help you locate your horse’s exact position.
Trackener is another wearable device that monitors your horse’s health and can help you to quickly detect health issues like colic. The device can attach to a girth during exercise or your horse can wear the device in a bib while in turnout or in his stall. The device tracks your horse’s activity, heart rate, and how much he lies down, and it can send alerts to your phone through an app if your horse’s behavior changes. Currently, Trackener is used throughout Europe.
HoofStep, an equine distress and wellness monitor, is a wearable device that is positioned on your horse’s forehead and held in place by a breathable, light sport textile headgear. This sensor gathers data about your horse’s behavior and routines, and it can also help you to notice any changes in routine. This monitor will also set off an alarm through an app on your phone if your horse displays signs of colic, stress, injury, or even if a mare is about to foal. This company is based in Sweden but HoofStep is available in the United States.
StableGuard takes a different approach to monitoring your horse. Rather than requiring your horse to wear a device, this system incorporates cameras to monitor your horse’s activity in his stall. StableGuard will send alerts to your phone through the app, and can notify you of major medical emergencies and security breaches. You can also live stream through the app to watch your horse while he’s in his stall.
Catching colic early is only one part of the equation, and it’s just as important to take steps to prevent colic, too. Giving your horse constant access to forage, maximizing his turnout time, and dividing grain meals into smaller, frequent meals can all help to prevent colic.
In addition, make sure that you can get your horse the help he needs if he colics. This may mean having a trailer and truck ready and easily accessible to ship your horse to a clinic. At the least, be prepared with the numbers for two different vets who are willing to travel out to your farm for a colic emergency. When you’re well-prepared, you’ll have a better chance of helping your horse through a colic episode.