Your mare foals and everything is perfect! Healthy baby, lots of chrome, moves like a champion already. Then your worst nightmare, the mare shows signs of colic. Pacing, pawing the ground a little. Mom's clearly unhappy and she's had serious colic before, so load them into the trailer for a trip to the clinic for observation. Examination at the hospital reveals that the mare is restless & uncomfortable but alert, her heart rate has dropped from 60 to around 36 beats/min. (close to normal) GI sounds improved from the first exam and nothing conclusive on rectal palpation. Pass a stomach tube, no fluid reflux (indicating a blockage high in the GI tract). Pain medication is given, maybe that trailer ride helped some, so lets try it again, but this time the mare goes down. Clearly her pain is not getting better, medicate her for the longer trip to Pilchuck Vet. Hospital in Snohomish, our referral partner for complicated surgical conditions including abdominal surgery. The stress level is high now, mare down and in a great deal of pain. The foal is certainly at risk, but removing her can create even more problems so no time to waste. To make a long, scary story short; they make it to Pilchuck and the team performs abdominal surgery. Surgeons find a 720 degree colon torsion, yikes! the large colon twisted not once, but twice around it's axis. The good news is that they are able to untwist the bowel and it didn't appear to have vascular damage, hooray for miracles!
We do believe in miracles, but there were other actions at play here that contributed greatly to the good outcome. Number one is that the colic was recognized early. Treatment was administered and decisions were made quickly. Since surgery was an option, the mare was transported to the surgical facility without delay. Time is not your friend when it comes to colon torsion. Vascular compromise and tissue damage occurs rapidly as the twist tightens. It's safe to say that this mare's surgery came just in the nick of time!
The moral of the story is, "trust in miracles, but tie your horses." Decide, when you aren't in crisis mode, if a surgical intervention would be in the cards for your animals. It doesn't mean you're a bad person if it's not, surgery is sometimes not the best choice for many reasons. Besides the significant financial burden, there are large "unknowns" attached to the recovery prognosis. (prognosis = best educated guess). Having a plan for how to handle colic in your horses is a good step towards opening the door for a miracle.