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Saving Katalyst

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Editor’s note: After a successful surgery and recovery, Kelsey and Katalyst are back at school and back in training!
Read their update below!


Kelsey was living a rider’s dream. But that dream turned into a nightmare when her horse experienced a life-threatening colic episode.

Kelsey Herring has loved horses for as long as she can remember. She started out riding western, spending weekends on the trails with her dad. Eventually, her focus shifted to dressage, then show jumping, and finally to eventing. She’s currently riding on the eventing team at Clemson University in South Carolina. Traveling with her between Massachusetts and Clemson is Katalyst (“Kat”), her eight year-old American Warmblood gelding.

“Katalyst is unlike any horse I’ve ever known,” Kelsey said. “He’s a grandson of Secretariat, so he has the heart of a Thoroughbred, with enough Shire in him to keep him steady and reliable. He’s an experienced eventer, but acts like a big puppy dog. And I’m learning so much from him. He’s an absolute dream.”

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Bringing her horse to college, and competing in the heart of eventing country—Kelsey was truly living the dream. But it turned into every horse owner’s nightmare in the blink of an eye, when Katalyst unexpectedly colicked.

“It all started innocently enough—the barn staff called me at school because Kat wasn’t eating his breakfast. When he didn’t improve, the veterinarian came out and tried tubing him and giving Banamine®, but nothing helped. I felt completely helpless, just waiting to see if he improved or got worse. I felt like I should be able to do more to protect him, but all I
could do was worry.”

“The next morning, we took him up to the vet clinic, where they found a small colon impaction. The hospital was an hour and-a-half away, and between classes, visiting hours, and all the worrying, every day was nerve-wracking. Then at nine o’clock one night, I got the call I was dreading—he was going to need surgery.”

“When I got that call, I was very scared, but having ColiCare there to support me through the whole process was a weight off my shoulders. I had first heard about the ColiCare program from my vet, Dr. Liz Maloney. I liked the support in SmartDigest® Ultra and thought it’d be nice to have the $7,500 of colic surgery reimbursement, if anything were to happen. But I never dreamed I’d actually have to use it. As it turned out, having that coverage meant I didn’t have to make that extreme decision—there was no second guessing; he was getting the surgery. We were going to do everything we could to save him.

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“I stayed up all night, just waiting for the vet to call. Around 2:00 AM, they told me the surgery went well, they’d cleared the impaction, and he was resting and recovering. I was so relieved, but I still couldn’t sleep—I just wanted to see him! When I went to visit the next morning, he was back to his old self, looking at me like ‘Where are my treats? I’m starving!’

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“When it came to the reimbursement, filing the claim with SmartPak was really easy. It just felt like you were calling a friend. All the SmartPakers were really concerned about how Kat was doing and how I was doing. It was really nice to have a little support system there. “When Kat came home, walking him back into his own stall was very emotional. I was so relieved and so happy to have him back. He’s doing great in his recovery; we’re back in light work and focusing on building up his muscle. I’m so looking forward to getting him back out on trail rides and eventing.”

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“Looking back on everything, I’m so grateful it all went so smoothly. I’ll definitely keep Kat on SmartDigest Ultra, and I’m keeping my mare, Lex, on it as well. For me, the main benefit of the program is the daily digestive support. My horses move with me between New England and South Carolina, and I know changing environments, traveling, and competing all come with digestive stress. While I know firsthand that nothing can completely prevent colic, I firmly believe that supporting digestive health with SmartDigest Ultra and annual veterinary exams is a smart choice for my horses. “I’ve told all my friends about ColiCare. I would 100% recommend it to anyone. It’s simply worth it.”

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2015 Update:

“After spending the summer at home in Massachusetts, Katalyst and I headed back to Clemson for the school year. During his recovery last summer and fall, we focused mainly on getting him into shape again and rebuilding his muscle. He’s a big horse and lost a lot of weight and muscle after the surgery, so it took some time to get him built back up. My trainer from Massachusetts is down in Aiken, SC, for February and March, so I’m planning to take Kat over to train with her and start gearing up for the 2015 season.

Both Kat and my mare, Lex, are still getting SmartDigest® Ultra in their SmartPaks. With all of the traveling, training, and competing we do, I know they go through digestive stress. While I know firsthand that nothing can completely prevent colic, I firmly believe that supporting digestive health with SmartDigest Ultra and annual veterinary exams is a smart choice for my horses. I would 100% recommend ColiCare to anyone. It’s simply worth it.”

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