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Life-Saving Surgery Leads to Confident Comeback

Sam and Elizabeth Chertavian competed at the Young Event Horse National Championships in 2011, and qualified again for the 2012 competition—which was set to take place in October that year—when one September morning, at five-years-old, Sam was struck with a sudden bout of colic.

He was rushed to Tufts Hospital for Large Animals at Cummings Veterinary Medical Center, where he underwent a complicated four-hour surgery. As it turns out, due to a congenital defect, a good portion of Sam’s small intestine was trapped under his spleen, cutting off the intestine’s blood supply.

“Even after he came out of surgery, it took seven days until we felt he was out of the woods,” says Elizabeth. “He received round-the-clock care, and I have never met a staff of more devoted, caring people. They tended to his every need, and at the same time acknowledged my worries and kept me well informed. Sam spent a total of three weeks at Tufts Hospital for Large Animals, and I always knew he was in the best hands.”

samOne year later, Sam finished his first event at the Preliminary Level. “I would have been proud regardless, but knowing what he had been through, and all the work that had gone into saving him and slowly rehabbing him back to competition form, I couldn’t have been more proud of him,” Elizabeth says of the now seven-year-old Thoroughbred, who she describes as her ‘resident goofball’ that always brings a smile to her face.