Challenges Turn into Lessons for an Equestrian Duo

Once in a very great while someone new will walk into your world and make a profound difference in your life. And sometimes that “someone” will canter into your world on four legs, and you know immediately that you’ve made a heart connection. 

That’s what happened to Lauren Drew, Pembroke, Massachusetts, when she first laid eyes on Enzo, a then 9-year-old Thoroughbred nearly five years ago. After an extensive search for her first horse throughout much of New England, and viewing and riding 15-plus horses, Lauren was resigned to the fact that she would keep leasing instead. Then, a gelding she had seen on CANTER PA’s Facebook page popped up again a few weeks later, so she and her fiancé made the six-hour drive to Pennsylvania, where it was love at first sight.  

She purchased Enzo on the spot and took him home to Massachusetts. With dreams to train him in eventing, their bond grew. Along with a growing bond, came an increasing list of challenges that Enzo encountered over time. 

“Ever since I got him, he has taught me a lot. I thought I knew everything I needed to know before buying a horse – he taught me very quickly how much I didn’t know. He’s an interesting case,” said Lauren, who’s been riding since she was 8 years old. 

At his first dental exam after purchasing him, Lauren said her veterinarian was shocked that Enzo would even allow a bit in his mouth and that he had one of the worst mouths the vet had ever seen. One bad tooth snowballed into months of health challenges and lots of time and money spent on the horse, but Lauren still wouldn’t give up on him. 

She explains that one infected tooth led to chronic sinus infections, and after several rounds of antibiotics it was determined the tooth needed to be surgically removed. The infection proved to be abnormally aggressive, and a CT Scan in 2017 showed that it had spread to Enzo’s skull. 

“Several specialists were consulted on his scans, but they all said the same thing: it wasn’t operable. So, the plan was for him to start living on antibiotics. I knew that they were going to take a really, really hard hit on his stomach, because just one month of them after his original surgery did so much damage. He wasn’t on any gut treatment then, and he lost so much weight and was super ribby, his coat was so dull. He looked terrible no matter how much food we tried to get into him, so that’s when we scoped him,” Lauren said.  

Enzo ended up having grade 4 ulcers, just another challenge for Lauren to treat him for. “That’s when I started looking into how do I get weight back on this horse? I learned about how their digestive system works and the effects antibiotics have on them.” 

And that is when she found Vitalize® Alimend®, a natural product that supports gastric health and GI tissue in horses. As she treated for the ulcers, she switched her grain, started on Alimend, and started seeing results. 

“Since I’ve been using Alimend, it has kept weight on him like nothing else. This stuff is liquid magic! He was on antibiotics every day for more than 1 ½ years, and through all that, he was able to maintain weight, and a lot of that I contribute to Alimend. It really is a life saver for him. I liked Alimend because it had prebiotics in it, and the fact that I could get it on auto ship from SmartPak, I was totally sold,” Lauren said. 

Vitalize Alimend is a natural product that helps heal and protect without altering stomach pH. It is a unique blend of MHB3® Hyaluronan, H. erinaceous (Lion’s mane) extract, and AO-Biotics®, a precision prebiotic designed to boost animal resilience to challenges. AO-Biotics is research-proven to improve gut integrity and immune response. Alimend provides 24/7 stomach comfort and relieves equine gastric issues commonly associated with training, traveling and performance without altering stomach pH or hindering digestion, and it is safe for routine and continuous use in all types of horses. 

“Even taking a break from antibiotics, I’ll have him on Alimend for life. He’s overall happier when he’s on tummy support, so he gets two pumps in the morning, two pumps at night, more pumps if he’s trailering or showing. He’s still kicking, he loves to work, and I’m just enjoying the time I have with him because they didn’t think he was going to make it this far,” Lauren said. “I believe that if you commit to a horse, you don’t give up on them at the first inconvenience. I’m so glad I didn’t give up on him, because he has repaid me tenfold.” 

Another Vitalize product that Lauren likes to keep handy for Enzo is the Vitalize Equine Recovery Gel. The quick-relief gel provides faster recovery during stressful times such as high performance, antibiotic therapy, deworming, surgery recovery, sickness or digestive upset such as diarrhea or the beginnings of colic. Lauren finds the Recovery Gel helpful when she adds or changes Enzo’s diet since he is so finicky; however, he has never budged at a Vitalize supplement. 

Lauren said through all the trials she and Enzo have faced together, she was really looking forward to showing him this spring and summer, until coronavirus shut everything down. She still has hopes of showing him some later this summer. Even though they are not showing to win, they enjoy the journey. 

“He’s such a trier and has such a big heart. And he’s my heart horse, 100%. He’s taught me to appreciate the horse you have and the time you have with them, because I think things would have been a lot different if everything had been easy. If we had gone out competing with no problems like I thought we were going to, I don’t think we’d have the bond we have at all. In a weird way, I’m grateful for all the things that went wrong,” she said. 

If you have an equine companion that has cantered its way into your heart, you know the feeling of wanting the very best for it. Keep that horse healthy and give it the good gut feeling with equine supplements from Vitalize.