Every once in a while, we are blessed to be able to meet a soul that is so beautiful, it changes our lives forever. For many of us, that special soul is a giant horse named Sampson.
Sam is a 15 year old Percheron who has blessed the lives of many of us, especially an amazing woman named Kiva (Angela Lorio). Sam came to Kiva at the age of 3 and in spite of being such an incredibly large and majestic horse today, he was actually the "runt" of the pasture!
When he adopted Kiva, he had a great and goofy personality, but very few manners and little to no training. Together they tackled this most important task while building a partnership that transcends species... they truly are soul mates. These two were always meant to be together and the fact that their partnership has created such a powerful team is a testament to this. Kiva considers herself to be the luckiest person in the world, to be able to be Sam's guardian and partner.
Sam's personality is legendary! Not only is he loving, compassionate and a great judge of character, he is also silly and loves to play in the pasture... unless there's a video camera around and all the 'fun' stuff stops immediately. Some guys are just too cool to be filmed doing something silly.
Sam and Kiva have been working together at special events for about 10 years. Their very first event was working for a miniature Renaissance Festival that was sponsored by a housing developer in Fort Bend County. For this first job, they were responsible for riding up and down the road to attract visitors.
They 'moved up' in the world and began working at the Texas Renaissance Festival, greeting visitors and teaching them about the strong, steady, and always dependable war horses that the King and his knights rode. Sam is a fixture at TRF and quite often you can hear people ask where the "big horse" is and how can they find him. All during the faire season, Sam stands patiently allowing guests to pet him, children to snuggle, and he takes thousands of photos. He also leads the parade through a faire filled with people - never balking once at the outrageous costumes or terrifying things that he sees out there. (For the record... most horses would practically have a heart attack in that environment)
Not only is Sam an excellent ambassador for War Horses at the Texas Renaissance Festival, but earlier this year he was invited to be at the NFL Commissioner's Tailgate Party for Super Bowl 51 at Reliant Stadium! Yes... he's a celebrity and has his own entourage to help care for him at these events. These are his 'people' and they are dear friends and family who volunteer to help out with crowd control whenever Sam makes a public appearance. How amazing is that?
Sam also joins in trail rides for various charities, he led the TRF Mud Run, and he LOVES to ride with Kiva just for fun. These two are 'ride or die' buddies, who are always there for each other no matter what.
Recently, that philosophy was put to the test. On September 24th, Sam started to colic, so the vet was called out to resolve this very serious problem. For those who aren't familiar with horse management, colic is the one thing we all fear - it is the thing that can kill a horse within hours, or less. Because a horse's digestive system is so incredibly delicate, anything can disrupt it... weather, stress, eating too fast, eating too much, eating something different, rolling in the grass, and sometimes simply bad luck. Basically, no matter how great someone is in taking care of their horse, this can happen without warning and get serious before the horse shows any signs of distress.
Sam's colic was resolved quickly and he rested all week so that he could be at TRF for Opening Day. He really does love his job and he worked for weeks without showing any signs of problems. He was carefully watched by his personal stalkers/team, who took note of everything that he did to ensure that he was ok. They do this religiously, especially Kiva, whose attention is 100% on Sam when they work together.
At the beginning of November, Sam showed signs of being uncomfortable, so Kiva took him to the vet for testing. They gave him a major work-over to make certain that everything was alright. This is when they found a blockage in his cecum. This is an area of the intestines where they transition in size. Horses and humans have this area, but ours function very differently, in that for the horse it is almost like a pouch, designed to hold fluids necessary to aid in digestion.
In most instances, this particular kind of blockage is inoperable and deadly. But luckily for Sam... he is young and healthy enough to take the risk of surgery. He also had one of the leading specialists in this area to care for him. The plan was to try an additional treatment to see if they could avoid surgery, but Sam started showing signs of distress, so at 10 pm on a Friday night, he was taken into surgery.
Sam made it through surgery like a trooper! He stood up immediately afterwards and is healing extremely well. The intestines are working properly and everything is 'flowing' nicely. The only drawback now is with his front feet. Why his feet? It goes back to the fact that horses really are delicate. When they are highly stressed (i.e. major surgery) it can sometimes affect the circulation in their hoof, which can cause problems and a lot of pain. Since horses can only lay down for a few minutes each day, this brings on another huge set of problems, which can often be fatal.
Sam's feet are beginning to heal and the pain is reducing, which is great news. His stomach and incision are healing well and he's back to eating his normal meals and doing extremely well. We have been blessed!
Now for the drawback... Sam's vet bill. Generally when a horse needs colic surgery, the owner is looking at a bill of at least $12,000 - as a starting point. Because of the additional difficulties of the surgery being in the cecum, plus the problem of laminitis in his front feet, we are anticipating that his vet bill would be around $15,000. Sam is still at the clinic and there hasn't been discussion about when he'll be coming home or what he'll need to help with his recuperation.
Sampson isn't just Kiva's War Horse... he's everyone's War Horse. He's spent his entire life helping humans and now he needs our help.
Sampson's friends have committed to raising as much money as possible to pay his vet expenses. This is where you come in. We need your help to continue his treatment.Sam is an amazing horse who has brought joy to thousands of people during his life. He still has many years ahead of him and because we all love him so much, we are working together to raise the money for the surgery that saved his life.
As soon as we receive donations they will all go to Kiva, who will forward them to Texas Equine Hospital until the bill is paid in full. As of now, we do not have a total, but are anticipating that $15,000 will be the minimum needed.