Meet Sandra M. and Bob (a ColiCare Success Story)
Success Profile: Bob
Breed: Belgian Draft/Quarter Horse
Owner: Sandra Malott
Sandra and Bob's Story:
When I met Bob as a three-year-old, I was taken by his good nature as a young horse and came to appreciate his independent nature as he matured. He’s got character, he marches to the beat of his own drum and is a pretty independent thinker. Through our entire 21 years together, Bob has always been there for me. He’s been a quiet sounding board on our daily morning trail rides where he’d listen and never judge. Being able to voice my worries and concerns aloud helped me find my own strength, and I cherish that bond I have with him deeply.
In 2009, I moved to the US from Canada, and there was no question about Bob coming with me. Back home I would prepare supplement baggies for the barn to add to his feed and although that worked well, with my new job here I was traveling a lot, so keeping up with baggies was a challenge. I had heard of SmartPak and thought it was a great solution - they would get delivered directly to the farm and I wouldn't have to worry. Since a few other folks at the barn were already using SmartPak it was easy to get set up on the barn delivery and it worked seamlessly from there.
As Bob aged, it seemed his digestion was getting fussier and at times he’d have loose manure with what seemed like no real cause. I had always had him on a probiotic supplement and when I did the research it looked to me that SmartDigest Ultra offered the most comprehensive hindgut support for the money. Since I was doing all the required management things like deworming and fecal tests it just made sense to enroll him in ColiCare. Why not? It didn't cost anything. I had dropped his full mortality/major medical coverage when he turned 18, so knowing that I had removed the financial question from whether to proceed in the event of colic surgery gave me great peace of mind. I knew I could make the decision for him that was in his best interest, and not feel I couldn't do something because I couldn't afford to do so.
The day it all happened I had ridden Bob lightly around 4pm and put him up like normal. But around 6:30pm, I got a call from one of my fellow boarders that Bob was down in his stall and rolling, which was not normal. They got him up and were walking him as I raced out to the farm to assess the situation. Despite loose manure issues, Bob never was a colicky horse, and based on what I was being described it was clear he was in quite a bit of discomfort. I called our vet as I was driving, and unfortunately, she was already at her third colic of the evening and had three more calls to get to before she would make it out to see Bob. I had spoken with the now gathering team of Bob supporters at the barn as I was still driving and they had administered a dose of Banamine paste that didn't seem to be helping much. At this point, they were having a challenge just keeping him on his feet. Based on that and knowing it would be some hours before his regular vet could get out to him, my next call was to the hauler to meet me at the farm and take him directly to the clinic where he could at least be assessed and monitored.
I arrived at the farm and took one look at Bob and knew the situation was dire. The hauler arrived not long after me and despite having not been on a trailer since his arrival from Canada 12 years prior, Bob gamely hopped on and off we went. When we arrived, the team at Wisconsin Equine examined him and found he had a displacement of his colon and gas. It was decided to monitor him overnight, but the hope was the colic would resolve with fluid therapy and good pain management. We went home at about 10pm feeling hopeful, but at 3am the clinic called to report that he was having more pain and the resident on duty wanted to place an IV catheter and start him on a constant drop of lidocaine. The surgeon was returning to examine him and would call me with a further update soon. When the surgeon called, it wasn’t with great news. She reported that the displacement had resolved but now she could feel an impaction. She felt given the increasing severity of his pain unless the impaction passed in the next six to eight hours his best chance would be surgical exploration. At that moment at 4am I wavered as to whether I wanted to put him through such a major procedure at his age and asked if the surgeon felt we were at a decision point right then or if we had time. She said we had the time and to come see him a few hours and we would talk further as the lidocaine drip seemed to be keeping him comfortable.
During that phone call, I had totally forgotten about ColiCare, and after hanging up the phone I had a good long cry as I felt that I was going to lose my friend. When I had picked myself up, I remembered- there’s a 1-800 number I can call! I dialed as quickly as I could to inquire as to how to proceed with a claim, and I was relieved at how simple the process was. It made a difference to be speaking with a fellow horse person who understood how important one's horse is. She put me at ease, explained all of the ins and outs (there weren't many), and gave me great peace of mind to basically forget about the money and focus on what was best for Bob and that ColiCare would take care of the bill for up to $10,000. Knowing that Bob was up to date on all wellness services required for ColiCare and that the program would pay for the surgery even if it wasn't successful, I knew I had to give him that chance.
We went to see Bob that morning and now that the financial issue was eliminated from the decision process, his surgeon was very forthright and told us not to let Bob's age be the determining factor as to whether or not to proceed with surgery, that he was in great shape, strong and sound, and if he was her horse she would absolutely take him to surgery to at least see what is going on. So that is what we did, and she found a fecalith blocking his colon. This would never have passed on its own and in fact, the colon was looking quite fragile where the fecalith was stuck and there was some worry that removal could have caused the colon to rupture, but it held. I was pacing outside of the surgical suite the entire time and there was no sweeter sound than hearing the team whooping and hollering when they got that fecalith out and his colon didn't rupture.
After making that initial call to understand how the ColiCare program works, when Bob was ready to be discharged the ColiCare representative sent over two one-page documents for my clinic to complete. One stating that Bob has had regular normal vet care (like worming, vaccines, and dental care) and the other for the surgeon to complete detailing his care. I brought him home 7 days after surgery, submitted the paperwork that day, and had a check from ColiCare reimbursing me for the entire invoice ten days later. It was totally easy! ColiCare took what was a nightmare situation and turned it into something wonderful - it has given me a future with my best friend. Without it, I believe his story would have had a very different ending.
Enrolling in ColiCare is a total no-brainer. The daily management required by the program is nothing outside of good horse husbandry, so you are likely doing it anyway so why not? I do think the SmartDigest Ultra is a great product and the ColiCare coverage is the icing on the cake.
One Year Later:
Bob continues to do super well - he gets ridden about 3-4 times a week and at his spring shots appointment, his long-time vet declared that he is in the best shape she's ever seen him in! I even rode him in a 'rider makeover' clinic a couple of weeks ago. I am so grateful to the ColiCare program that gave us this extra time together.