Psyllium, made from the seed of the fleawort plant, swells and becomes gelatinous when moist. Psyllium is a proven laxative in humans and pigs, and many people feed it to their horses as well, in hopes that it will prevent sand colic. Psyllium is believed to help move small amounts of sand out of the horse's gut, but preliminary research calls into question its effectiveness in moving larger accumulations of sand from equine intestines.
The best way to avoid sand-related colic is to discourage the horse from ingesting sand in the first place. This can be accomplished with minor adjustments to your feeding routine. Feed hay from feeders or rubber mats, preferably in an area where the horses can't scatter it over sandy ground before eating it. Allow horses to graze sandy pastures only when the grass is plentiful and well rooted.
If you suspect your horse has just ingested a lot of sand, you may want to keep him in a stall for a few days so it can clear his system. Psyllium may be a useful part of managing a horse who grazes in a sandy pasture, but it's not a magic preventive or cure.
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The articles was originally published in EQUUS magazine.