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[RC] Colic Surgery costs/decisions - Jonni

I'd guess the most feared medical issue horse owners have is the possibility of colic surgery with their horse. Never thought I'd actually ever have to make that decision, and if I did, I figured the cost would be prohibitive to do so. But, 14 months ago, I had to face that exact issue. Every horse owners situation, finances, and feelings towards surgery or not will be different, but after going through it, maybe I can offer up a few things for y'all to consider, so you would be prepared.

I was under the impression most vets asked for 1/2 of the fee up front, before they even start the surgery. I'd guess that is normally the case, but I was a regular client with the vet and his surgical hospital, so I was able to do payments. A good reason to use a facility like that for a few procedures that are non emergency, in case you are ever faced with such a situation, you are not a 'new client'.

Cost was about $5000, but we were able to keep the costs down, as I did much of the after care, and Hank got to go home after only 2 days. I was lucky.

Making the decision under stress, with your horse in pain, and maybe suffering, is not the best time for an owner to keep their mind clear, and think things through. Because Hank had a few reoccurring colics in the weeks ahead, I had thought through the process, so I had already made some mental decisions when the vet suggested surgery.

I first considered if I could replace Hank with the amount of money I'd spend on surgery. What could I get for say...$5000? I considered his age, training, performance history etc. Everything I would look at when buying a horse. THEN I put the emotional value on him. That is where we all differ. No right or wrong answer. Some will do what ever they can, at all costs, some are more practical. Hank had gotten me my Tevis buckle, so that raised him up emotionally. I felt that even if he could only be a pleasure mount, and not ever do distance riding again, we would be happy with that, as he was a strong family member, and at just 11 years old, he had years ahead of him if the surgery went well. Also, you have to talk to the vet about how they feel the horses chances are. My vet felt pretty good about Hanks surgery from the signs presented with his multiple colics the weeks ahead.

On a quick side note, there used to be a deal with one of the feed through wormer's that if you had your horses on the product, and they needed colic surgery, they would pay for it. Not sure if that is a consideration for anyone.

So, after Hanks surgery, I sat and discussed the other horses with my husband, and what we would do if they needed surgery. Two of them are older, pretty much pets, and unfortunately, will not rate surgery like Hank did. One is not older, but has not done anything to rate that amount of money spent on him, as we could replace with a much nicer horse for that kind of money. Making these choices now, before we are stressed with any emergency is much easier.

So, if you have concerns on being prepared, either insure, put a bank account together, or make other arrangements. Talk to the surgical facility you would use if your horse were to need it while at home (as to one on the road, near a ride) and find out how the handle the financial end of things.

BTW, Hank went back to his first NATRC ride 90 days post surgery, and did 16 rides this past year, and will be awarded the Presidents Cup at convention in February for the most points earned this year in NATRC. Colic surgery does NOT mean the end of a horses career.

My blog is here about our travels over the past year:



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