Colic

Colic

Matison stands by the feed bin, the assembled apprentices seated in various places around the tack room.

"Today," he addresses them, "We'll learn about one of the deadliest mistakes a person can make when caring for a runner. It's very simple, really, and you may think it nothing — but with a little bad luck…" he looks around, affixing the students with a meaningful glance, "…disaster."

The master holds up the clasp that usually hangs from the latch on the feed bin. "This is what I'm talking about - locking the feed bin. Does anyone know why this is so important?" He looks around the room, hearing tentative mutters. "That's right, I think I heard it over there. Colic."

"Colic," he explains, "is simply an upset stomach. Many of you may have had it as babies. So why is it so deadly to a runner? Because a runner's digestive tract is one-way." He points to an apprentice. "You can vomit." He looks up again as the apprentice grins and squirms a little. "A runner cannot. If he swallows something he shouldn't, it won't come back up - it has to go all the way through."

"The danger of colic comes, then, from the runner's actions — too much feed in itself may not hurt the runner, though that's a topic for another lesson - founder - , but the pain from his upset stomach may cause him to roll around, thereby twisting his intestines and causing a blockage. Once this happens, without prompt treatment from a beasthealer, the runner will die. The idea, then, is to prevent the runner from rolling. Of course," he says with a smile, "prevention is the best cure. But the minute you suspect a runner may be colicky, what should you do first?" he quizzes.

"Get a Journeyman," quips an apprentice. Matison looks right at him, though, nodding. "That's right - get help." He turns back to the others. "Let someone else know that there's a problem. Then take the runner out of his stall and walk him. That's the most important part - DON'T EVER LET A COLICKY RUNNER LIE DOWN. Keep him standing, walking is best, to try to get whatever is bothering the runner to pass through. Don't leave until you've been assured by a master or journeyman that it's alright for you to do so.

"How about symptoms? Do any of you know what to look for?" Matison looks to the senior apprentices.

"The runner acts strangely?" shrugs one of them.

"That's right," the master tells her. "The runner will act strangely - he may appear worried, may look at his stomach. He'll be off his feed, and may be irritable. You can generally tell when a runner is in pain — they don't try to hide it from you. If you find the runner lying down when he exhibits other symptoms, get him to stand up." He then looks at those apprentices who are cross-crafting with the Healer Hall. "Those of you who plan to become beasthealers - you should see what you can find on Colic in the Healer records, and learn it.

"Any questions?" he addresses the whole lot of apprentices.

"Alright, then. Off with you." He grins and pointedly replaces the clasp on the feed bin in such a way that it's impossible for a runner to remove it.

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