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Four Extra Years: A ColiCare Success Story

Posted on: May 26, 2024 by Sophia Hall

More than Marketing

If you’ve heard of SmartPak's ColiCare program, a few phrases that come to mind might be our marketing phrases like “peace of mind” or “digestive support.” And while these phrases should be what I think of as a SmartPaker myself, number one thing that comes to my mind when I think of ColiCare, is from before I wore my first SmartPak employee badge. I think of “four extra years with my best friend.”

Even now, so many years after my experience with ColiCare, I still shed a few tears when I talk about how much this program means to me and how much it truly changed my life.

ColiCare is the reason that my first horse, Toby, or "Toburrito" had the chance to become my first horse at all. Before graduating high school, I spent years riding him on and off, often leasing him in the summers when I was able to. Regardless of if he was temporarily 'mine' or not, I was always thankful to see his head hanging over his stall door when I walked down the aisle.

After a challenging first year at college, I found myself looking for an adventure that summer, an adventure anywhere other than Massachusetts where I had grown up, worked, and gone to school. Somehow, that search brought me to buying a one-way ticket to San Francisco to work in Northern California as a riding instructor, with plans to return home “at some point before school.” In the back of my mind I knew this almost four-month excursion would take me away from my favorite horse and his bright white blaze, but I comforted myself knowing his current owner and my barn manager would ensure he had a fruitful summer full of fun, even if it wasn't with me.

When It's More Than Just Colic

In August of that summer, after a long day of teaching, I checked my messages to find that Toby had colicked, and not just one of his overly dramatic gas bubble moments, but a more serious, off-to the surgical hospital, occurrence. I panicked. I was sick to my stomach, feeling like I had abandoned the most important four-legged animal in my life. I was too far away to do anything, though. I felt incredibly lost.

However, his then-owner and my barn manager assured me it was going to be alright. They would do everything for him, and if he ended up needing surgery he had ColiCare.

As it turned out, Toby did end up needing surgery that night and it certainly didn't feel alright at first, waiting to hear how he was doing. The waiting was the worst. Toby's entire team from his surgery staff to his owner, to the barn manager, to me, all took a collective deep sigh of relief when his surgery was deemed successful. Toby had a large impaction but thankfully did not require any re-sectioning, a huge win for a big, active horse like him. The surgical team and ColiCare both did their job, the rest was up to Toby and his on-site team at our barn.

He was a feisty boy, and one can only imagine how well a horse who was mentally four years old took to hand walks and stall rest. If you add in a harsh winter in Massachusetts without an indoor arena you might find that your outcome looks more like flying a large, horse-shaped kite some days. His recovery went incredibly smooth (minus a small occurrence of him tearing some stitches, but that’s a story for another day). That one unhappy surprise aside, we got back into work slowly, sometimes spreading out our hand walks and tack walks in shorter intervals throughout the day to keep his mind occupied. It was a test of determination and consistency for all of us, and I think I can fully credit Toby and his recovery journey to any and all patience I have today.

Some time after his recovery was complete and he'd come back to work fully his circumstances changed, and Toby was once again available to me for lease and then it wasn't just a chance to lease him again but a chance to own him all to myself and I knew that I would make it work. Even it meant working full-time while being in school full-time, it was worth it to own and care for him. To this day, if you asked me what my greatest equine moment has been thus far in my life it would be impossible not to choose December 23rd, 2016, when the papers were signed, and Toby became officially mine.

Four Extra Years, And More

We had four extra, incredible, years together before Toby passed away, just over two years after I purchased him. He crossed the rainbow bridge due to a slew of other medical issues that my vets tried so hard to save him from, but I wouldn’t change our time together for anything. ColiCare gave Toby a new lease on life, and the four wonderful, quirky, challenging, fulfilling years we had would not have been made possible if it wasn’t for SmartPak.

Years later, my experience with ColiCare was the one of the driving factors for me wanting to work here at SmartPak and it's still one of my favorite aspects of this amazing company.

When I decided to keep my current mare after having her on trial, the first supplement I put in her SmartPak was our SmartDigest Ultra Pellets, and I immediately applied her for the ColiCare program. I did the exact same thing when I purchased another horse last summer. While it’s impossible to compare current horses to past ones, I know Phoebe, and now Lukas, are set up for success with the comprehensive digestive support they are getting daily. I also know that should I ever need it, ColiCare will have our back, just like they did for Toby all those years ago.