By Megan Rosenthal
“Colic Watch Out” is a card game created by Ella Doerr of One Good Pony LLC. The rules of the game are straightforward: the players take turns drawing cards from their decks and reading the horsemanship facts aloud to the group. When a Colic Watch Out card is drawn, all the players must race to slap the deck with their hand and the first to touch the cards gets to keep the pile. Once all cards are read, the winner is the player with the most cards collected from the race to touch the Colic Watch Out cards.
The operations of the game itself serve as a perfect metaphor for the way colic can sneak up on everyday barn life and interrupt just about anything. Whether it’s during a lesson, a show, barn chores, or in the middle of the night, when a horse is colicking you have to drop everything that you’re doing in that moment to give them the necessary care to get through the situation. As one of the most common ailments to horses, it is important to know the warning signs of this possible danger, even if you’re not the one responsible for care. Similar to how Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax quotes, “I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues,” it is our responsibility to notice and care for the horses who cannot tell us in words that something is wrong.
COLIC is a name broadly given to stomach issues in horses. Cases can range in severity from simple gas colics that may only require a dose of banamine and a handwalk, to more complicated episodes such as impactions, twists in the gut, displacement and entrapment, or even strangulation. Types of colic such as these require a visit from the vet and may be solved by tubing and oiling or would need surgery to try to correct. Potentially lethal outcomes can arise depending on the severity of the condition or the lack of knowledge in how quickly to recognize and address the issue. By building a game around the warning signs, Ella Doerr successfully raises awareness and educates the players in an entertaining manner.
Aside from the game being successful as a teaching tool, its design is attractive to players for many reasons. First, the packaging is simple, compact, and easy to take with you. All you need to play are the cards, a set of friends, and a table. The firm surface of a table is a necessary component because when the Colic Watch Out cards are drawn, the race to slap the deck first might get dicey without it. (Learn from our mistake. We played on a less than sturdy surface the first time and cards went flying.)
In addition to the convenient design, the information contained in the deck is factual and knowledgeable. It covers a range of topics from brush types and markings, to equipment and anatomy. (Fun fact: Normal horse heart rate is between 30 and 45 beats per minute.) The game is available to purchase on eBay.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Ella Doerr, the creator behind One Good Pony LLC. This game serves as a testament to her dedication to the animals we love in this sport as well as her passion and knowledge of horsemanship. For me as a trainer, I know this game will be a handy teaching tool to use as a summer camp activity to both entertain and educate young riders. And hopefully, the next generation of horsemen and women will understand the importance of recognizing, through body language, what these animals may be trying to communicate to us. It’s a skill that goes beyond talent in the saddle.