‘We were told to say our goodbyes’: Cob bounces back from colic surgery to qualify for the Royal International on season debut

  • Show cob Higherview King Of The Ring who underwent emergency surgery for a complicated case of colic has made a triumphant return to the show ring.

    Mother and a daughter team Leeanne and Holly Crowe’s upstanding maxi cob (Larry) picked up his ticket to the 2022 Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) by winning the coloured native/traditional/cob horse qualifier at Selston Equestrian Centre.

    Larry was bought from Peter Hodkinson three years ago. His eye-catching size and stamp has always been one of his standout features.

    “He’s a really big boy,” said Leeanne. “Peter had him for his former owner as he’d grown too big for her.”

    In 2021 Holly and Larry qualified for the RIHS but just before the final Larry suffered from a bout of serious colic.

    “He decided he wanted to have a holiday at Newmarket Equine Hospital, not Hickstead,” Leeanne said. “One morning in July we turned him out and he was constantly rearing and spinning round in the field. The vet came out and gave him a Buscopan injection, but he took a turn for the worse that evening so we had to call out the emergency vet. A scan was done and the vet could instantly see things weren’t where they should be, so we had to rush him to Newmarket. Due to his size, it took a while to get him into the lorry.”

    When he arrived at Newmarket, Larry was operated on but the surgery was complicated owing to the fact Larry’s intestines were wrapped in his spleen.

    “We were told his chances of survival were less than 30 percent and that we should prepare for the worst,” Leeanne said. “We said our goodbyes but Larry wasn’t about to give up and he survived.

    “He was on box rest during his recovery and he wasn’t impressed, though we kept him happy by rotating the yard so another horse was always in with him.

    “The team at our local vets, Tower Equine, were amazing; because of his character and size he’s known locally and he was given lots of well wishes and ‘get well soon’ messages.

    “Our vet would even pop in on her way home from work to check up on him.”

    Despite losing a significant amount of weight and suffering from superficial scarring, Larry made a full recovery.

    “We weren’t planning on taking him out to a show but he was looking and feeling so well that we decided to go,” said Leeanne, who works as a nurse. “Plus, as we’ve missed so much time due to Covid it was lovely to get out and see people.

    “Larry and Holly were pulled top and stayed top to win their qualifier. A lot of people know Larry’s story and he’s fondly known as Larry the Giant on the circuit as Holly is only 5ft so she makes him look even more massive. He gave the judge a beautiful ride and when everything came together everyone was so happy for him.

    “Watching him trot up that hill in the ring at Hickstead will certainly be a moment to remember, especially considering we were told he wasn’t going to live.”

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