Lionheart Euthanized Following Colic Surgery Complications

Lionheart with William Fox-Pitt. Photo by Samantha Clark. Lionheart with William Fox-Pitt. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Allison Springer has just announced via Facebook that Lionheart has been euthanized following complications from colic surgery. While it initially seemed like Lion was doing better and would pull through after his first surgery on Monday, a second surgery revealed that a vascular accident had occurred in the colon, and both the small and large intestines were irreparably damaged, according to the statement. The EN team extends our condolences during this incredibly tragic time. This has been an unbelievably difficult start to 2014.

From Allison Springer Eventing on Facebook:

Lionheart, the spectacular event horse, owned by Team Lionheart Syndicate LLC and ridden by Allison Springer has succumbed to complications from a week long colic episode. Lionheart, a 12 year old Westphalian gelding, was euthanized after the second of two abdominal surgeries. Surgery revealed that a vascular accident had occurred in the colon and both the small and large intestines were irreparably damaged.

When the colic first presented last Monday, Lionheart was immediately taken to Palm Beach Equine Medical Center on the advice of Allison’s veterinarians Dr. Kent Allen and Dr. Susan Johns at Virginia Equine Imaging. Lionheart was under the care of Dr. Bob Brusie and Dr. Kathleen Timmons and the staff of Palm Beach Equine who worked tirelessly during the last week giving emergency and supportive care to the horse around the clock. A team of experts consulted on the complex colic case during the week and finally it was decided to re-explore the abdomen this morning.

Upon further exploratory surgery, it was obvious that despite his valiant battle Lionheart would not survive. Allison was with him stallside for long hours every day and most nights during his struggle and ultimately made the final decision with collaboration of her veterinary team. Allison said, “This was one of the most challenging and heartbreaking weeks of my life. Lionheart dealt with this as the true champion he was, never giving up. In the end, when the time came and there were no more options. I’m very appreciative of the tremendous veterinary effort made to save Lionheart.”

Dr. Bob Brusie commented on the cause, “the horse had excellent care and there was nothing in the history that would explain the vascular accident that comprised the small intestine and then over time went on to overwhelm the cecum and large bowel. This sort of vascular accident, similar to a stroke, is very unusual in my experience.”

Lionheart, previously ridden by William Fox-Pitt and a silver medalist at the London Olympics, was one of the promising hopefuls expected to help the US Eventing Team be even more competitive at the upcoming World Equestrian Games and Rio Olympics. David O’Connor, US Eventing Team Adviser said, “I’m devastated for Allison’s loss and offer her my deepest sympathy.”

Allison Springer expressed her sincere appreciation to each member of the Team Lionheart Syndicate and her dedicated veterinary support team for their tireless effort and care during this difficult time.


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