Tuesday, Mar. 5, 2024





Photo by Tylir Penton.

Danny, my top horse, had emergency colic surgery at the end of October. To make a long story as short as possible, I learned that, because he’d had a brief hospital stay in August 2016 for a non-surgical colic, I was ineligible for the colic surgery coverage I’d thought I’d had through my equine insurance; I’d thought coverage was reinstated a year after the incident, but it’s a year after the date of renewal.

If you think that’s a weird and arbitrary way of deciding when to reinstate coverage, join the club. But rules are rules, and my underwriters decided that insuring large numbers of my own horses, sending multiple clients their way, and also having my liability coverage with them for more than 20 years was an insufficient reason to bend the rules. So I was on my own.

This was not good news. To add insult to injury, Danny continued to drain from his incision upon his return from the hospital, and a culture showed an antibiotic resistant infection. In spite of having no other symptoms —no fever, no wonky vitals, no problems gastrointestinally —the consequences of an antibiotic-resistant infection getting away from you are severe. So he’s back in the hospital, looking at a two-week stay to treat the infection with the only drug to which it does respond, naturally one that is incredibly expensive.

I could have let him go. I know how lucky I am to have a retirement fund, started with very little upon my graduation from college, that I can liquidate to save his life. Not everyone is so fortunate. And Danny is lucky; while he’s not out of the woods yet, he’s bright and alert and being a model patient. His situation could be so, so dire.

But this sucks, guys. This sucks. It’s terrifying. For an hour, after being handed the death blow by my insurance company, I panicked. To distract myself, I started glancing through Facebook. And this video, of Reese Witherspoon accepting an award in 2015, came up. (The first minute of this video is the relevant part, though watch the whole thing, because it’s terrific.):


I took a breath and got to work.

Admitting I need help is really hard for me. And asking for help when I have nothing to offer in return is even harder. I am a tough, Alpha Female! I don’t need anyone! Hear me roar! But I swallowed my ego and reached out on Facebook, asking for items to auction off to fundraise.

And I got them. Not only did friends and family and clients donate items, but complete strangers did as well. Not only did friends and family and clients offer funds, but so did folks I haven’t seen or spoken to since high school. So did strangers. So did other trainers who, like me, are just trying to keep their heads above water.

But what I got was so much more than just contributions. What I got was a reason to soldier on.

“We just love Danny so much,” wrote one of the interns at the hospital where Danny is staying. “I’m just on a baby doctor’s salary, but I’d really like to help.”

“This could happen to any of us,” wrote a trainer I know. “We trainers have to have each other’s backs, right?”


And this: “my own horse just died of colic. I know what you’re going through. I couldn’t save mine, but I can help save yours.” My god.

Having an action plan, having something to do, was like a candle in my chest. The love and support I received was like a bellow.

There is war, and there is turmoil, and there is real human suffering. And in my own little corner of the world, there’s a horse with a long road ahead, and a lot of obstacles in his path. But behind is a lot of love and support. Humans are amazing. And I’ve saved those notes in a file, to pull out when the road seems dark and rocky.

(Danny’s auction runs through 6p EST Monday, November 27. You can see the items here. We are both so, so grateful, to all who contributed, to all who will contribute, and to Reese Witherspoon.)

Lauren Sprieser on Facebook




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