In April of 2018, Martin Fuchs and his groom Sean Vard were faced with a decision. Fuchs’ top horse Clooney 51 was at a show in Italy, but on Wednesday morning, the gelding developed severe colic. There was no question that he needed veterinary attention, but they needed to decide which clinic.

“That show is about a four-hour drive for us from our home base, over the mountains,” said Vard. “We had to make the decision whether to bring him to a clinic in Milan, through the heavily congested city, or to drive him home to Zurich. So, Martin and our vets made the decision that I would drive him home while he was in a colic, which was obviously pretty stressful.

“We sedated him a bit to take the edge off, and I managed to get him home in record time (with minimum speeding tickets!),” Vard continued. “He had colic surgery that evening, 4 ½ hours after he originally colicked, which is incredible; he started over 300 kilometers away in a different country. My goal was just to get him home safely, and the next morning he was standing and eating again. This, for me, keeping him alive and then working through the recovery—with the first goal being to jump a small show again, and then he went back to Aachen [Germany], and then went on to [the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games (North Carolina)] and won a silver medal. The way the team and Martin planned it with the vets and myself, everything we did for him—from hand walking for an hour, two or three times per day in the mountains, to building the fitness back up—and then competing and doing so well at WEG, this is my biggest accomplishment.”

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