Real stories of life-saving surgery, the road to recovery, and returning to riding
Colic is every horse owner’s worst nightmare, and it’s more common than you may think. The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) estimates that 900,000 horses will colic this year in the United States alone. While not every horse who colics needs surgical intervention, many horse owners have to decide whether or not to put their horse through colic surgery, and most worry about what will happen afterward. Will their horse survive the surgery? And if he does, will he recover and do everything he could do before?
While every case is unique, horses often go on to live happy and healthy lives after colic surgery. Read on to meet five horse owners who are looking forward to many more successful years with their horses, whose lives were saved with colic surgery.
“Thunder, who is known to many as Thunder the Wonder Horse, has been a therapy horse for 20 years now. He loves his students and is the go-to horse at the center because of his gentle personality and comfortable movement. He is the best friend of a lot of kids, and we would be lost without him. That almost became a reality last year when he had a bad case of colic. Luckily, we were able to save his life with surgery.
“Some people said the stable and I were crazy to operate on a 27-year-old horse, but I’m glad we didn’t listen to them. We made the right call. Thunder made it through surgery like a trooper and was happy to see me the next morning. His recovery at the hospital went so well that he got to go home a day early! When he arrived home, there was a large crowd waiting to present him with a Welcome Home card signed by all of his students and fans.
“After several months of stall rest and hand-walking, we were allowed to start him back under saddle. He seemed so excited to be back at it again! Almost a year later, he has made a full recovery. He is back in service as a therapy horse, and everyone is thrilled to have him working again!
“The idea of losing my best friend in a matter of hours was horrible, and I’m so grateful everything went well and that SmartPak was there to help us through it with the colic surgery reimbursement from ColiCare.”
“For my entire life, I’ve been involved with horses. It’s the only passion I’ve ever known, and nothing comes close to the bond between horse and rider. My current horse, Kekona, is a six-year-old Dutch Warmblood/Trakehner cross mare who I’m sure will make a great event horse one day.
“Kona lives at a wonderful barn, and my trainer takes fantastic care of her. I think she lives a better life than me, so I was shocked when I got the phone call with news of her colic. Things went from bad to worse quickly, and she was taken to the equine hospital that night. I stayed with her through that first night, barely sleeping and hoping she could recover without surgery. After that sleepless first night, surgery was inevitable. I can’t remember a time I was more upset, but I knew going through with the surgery was our best option.
“This was my first experience with colic surgery, so my mom and I had many questions and a lot of anxiety about getting the reimbursement from ColiCare. The SmartPak team was patient, kind, and professional throughout the entire process and answered all of our questions promptly. We were reimbursed for the full $7,500 and were quite impressed with how quickly we received it.
“Kona had her surgery in April and has been recovering very well. While the surgery delayed our plans for her first horse show, I can’t wait for her show ring debut later this year when she’s fully recovered. I still wish that we never had to go through this whole ordeal, but I’m grateful to SmartPak for making colic surgery less financially stressful with the ColiCare™ program.”
“I adopted Corey, an off-the-track Thoroughbred, after he was rescued by Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center. He had been horribly neglected before they rescued him and was malnourished, had rain rot, and needed fetlock surgery. I found a wonderful stable to board him at and arranged for him to have the needed surgery shortly after he arrived. With a lot of care, his physical condition turned around.
“When I learned about SmartPak’s ColiCare program, I jumped at the chance to enroll Corey because I know surgery can be costly. On October 15, 2014, the worst happened: he colicked. Our veterinarian came out, but Corey was deteriorating fast and we decided to transport him to the Brandon Surgery Center. I was going to save my boy at any cost, but I was thanking my lucky stars that I had ColiCare.
“When I filed the claim, everyone at SmartPak was very concerned about how my boy was doing. My claim was approved quickly, and the reimbursement from SmartPak paid for Corey’s whole surgery. Corey is back to 100% now and is back to being the barn clown! He makes everyone laugh, and I don’t know what I would have done if he hadn’t recovered so well. I’ve encouraged everyone I know to sign up for ColiCare because, as I found out, you just never know.”
“Talk about highs and lows! One minute I was receiving the High Point Dressage Award at a driving competition, and the next minute I was searching for Banamine to give Newman because he was colicking. A few hours later, we were on our way to the equine hospital. Unfortunately, this was before the ColiCare program existed, but Newman was insured so when the call came (“Newman needs surgery, do we have your permission?”), I was able to give that permission.
“Newman’s GI tract recovered well, and the incision healed right on schedule. Three months after his surgery, I was riding him at all three gaits and he was back to full turnout.
“That was in 2009, and today Newman is successfully showing 3rd Level dressage as well as Preliminary Level Combined Driving. When it’s time for my next horse, I plan to enroll him in ColiCare as soon as he comes home– maybe sooner!”
“In 2006, my family purchased Hudson, a seven-year-old Thoroughbred, for my sister. One day in the first winter we owned him, he colicked. Our veterinarian came out and said he needed to go to the hospital immediately. The surgery was done that night, and Hudson came home eight days later. He made a full recovery and was successfully showing again a year later. It’s been eight years since Hudson’s surgery, and he’s still my sister’s partner!
“Having seen firsthand how well a horse can bounce back from colic surgery, I can’t recommend SmartPak’s ColiCare™ program enough. My current horse, Lovey, is on SmartDigest® Ultra Pellets and will be enrolled in the program as long as I have her. After all, any horse can colic at any time, so I really value the peace of mind knowing that I have $7,500 of colic surgery reimbursement, should we ever need it.”