Success Story: Grace’s Colic

Grace and rider after colic surgery

On an early June morning, riding instructor and ER nurse, Dawn Cucinotta, arrived home after work to find her 6-year-old Percheron cross mare down in her stall. Not long before, Dawn and her daughter had been working with Grace, aka Creative Finance, taking weekly lessons in dressage and showing at the occasional schooling show. That day, however, Grace was down on her side and in obvious pain.

Cucinotta called her primary care veterinarian, Dr. Cheryl Rusin, and shortly after, was on the way to the UF Large Animal Hospital. Cucinotta was greeted by Dr. Sarah Graham of the Large Animal Surgery Service. An immediate colic workup, ultrasound and rectal exam showed that surgery was necessary immediately.

“Grace had an ileal impaction and a large colon volvulus,” said Dr. David Freeman, Certified Veterinary Surgeon and Chief of Large Animal Surgery. “This means that a twist in the intestine was cutting off blood supply to the tissue and it needed to be corrected. Without surgery, this colic could be fatal.”

These problems were corrected in surgery by Dr. Freeman and Dr. Graham, and Grace recovered from surgery and anesthesia without complications.

“I was worried about the long weeks ahead of stall confinement for such a young exuberant mare,” Cucinotta said. “However, Grace took it all in stride and seemed to enjoy her daily grooming and endless stream of visitors.”

About three months later, Grace returned to work. Cucinotta’s daughter, Anna, rides her and they both enjoy eventing and attending clinics in dressage, a USPC Sunshine Region multi-disciplinary clinic, and cross country schoolings. Getting Grace healthy and back to work was Cucinotta’s main goal. Her quick response, the attention from her primary care veterinarian, and the expertise of the surgeons and staff of the UF Large Animal Hospital, made that goal possible.

“Anna and Grace have a wonderful partnership, and Grace seems to be growing out of her explosive stage,” Cucinotta said. “The honesty, confidence and compassion of the staff at UF, along with my love for Grace, made the decision for surgery an easy one. She has turned into a wonderful horse, and I don’t regret one cent of what was spent to keep her in our lives.”

View all UF Large Animal Hospital Success Stories.

University of Florida


As part of both the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and UF Health, Veterinary Medicine is dedicated to advancing animal, human and environmental health through teaching, research, extension and patient care.

IFAS footerblock

University of Florida

Animal Hospitals

Need animal care? Visit the UF Small Animal and Large Animal Hospitals. From dogs, cats, birds and exotics to horses, cattle, llamas, pigs and many other large farm or food animals, our experienced veterinary staff is ready to assist.


Syndicated Podcast

Animal Airwaves

Animal Airwaves is a daily radio series that features one-minute segments relating to animal health, ranging from insights into animal behavior to veterinary patient care breakthroughs and trends.