Goodbye to Shine "King Alain"

Passed away December 19, 2012


 Dear Shine has died - his Wobbler’s Syndrome had progressed to the point that he was barely able to walk, and once he laid down, was unable to get up. He’d deteriorated fast after our loss of Sunny in mid November. He leaves Spencer bereft, and our hearts aching. Let me tell you what I know about Shine.....

He was born "King Alain", in approximately 1987. He raced from July 21, 1989 to June 10, 1994, with lifetime earnings of $77,147. He had five wins, in 62 starts. So many of his later races showed that he was trying hard, but just couldn’t pull it out. "Lacked late response", "contended, faltered", "lead late, just missed", and in his final races, "no threat", "showed little", "bid turn, faltered". Knowing of his Wobbler’s condition, my heart aches for his giant Thoroughbred heart that tried and tried and tried, running those races without any real hind end to propel him, literally dragging himself around the track. What a competitor he was, how honest in giving his best effort, to no avail. And that is the Shine that I knew.

I don’t know how he went from the track to the stable from which he was saved by a young mother who saw him, alone and thin, unloved by the private party where he boarded to such an extent that she often simply didn’t feed him, explaining that he was ‘a pain’ and she didn’t like him. Shine was at least 16.2 hh, long legged and long bodied, a BIG Thoroughbred who needed every calorie, with his anxious personality. What torment it must have been for him to see horses in stalls on either side eating, while he stood waiting.... Marsi knew next to nothing about horses, but offered to take Shine off that woman’s hands, and moved him to a boarding stable in Temecula. Unfortunately, the trainer there was probably not well versed in OTTBs, and I suspect that Shine hadn’t had anyone on his back since his last race. Marsi had a couple of hair-raising rides, and contacted me. On January 31, 2006, Shine arrived.


A tall chestnut with a big white stripe on his face, big brown eyes, one with a little white defect in it, Shine was a big baby boy. A little anxious always, at least in part I feel sure due to his vulnerable feeling that he couldn’t move around as well as he’d like. Well behaved, brave in spite of his fears as so many Thoroughbreds can be, Shine needed a friend and protector, and through his years here at The Golden Carrot, he had them.


First, he loved Topper.


At some point, Topper took up with Prophet, and Shine became attached to Sunny, as he was to his dying day.




And in his last year of life, big crazy Spencer became devoted to protecting Shine. He was the kinda fellow who inspired devotion, as he gave it.....

He had a little bit of a goofy side too, and I suspect with less stress in his life, might have had quite a sense of humor.




Shine came in thin, and always ‘wobbly’ on that hind end. We were able to put some weight on him, but he never tracked quite right, so we never considered using him for even leadline work. And I think that was ok with him. He always tried hard for the farrier, but did have trouble lifting his hind legs, and staying balanced on three.

He was always nervous when Laurie Henkel came to adjust him, and then ‘remembered’ her and clearly appreciated her help. She probably gave him an extra year of life, as she was able to adjust his neck and keep the symptoms at bay for a while.

But the reality of Shine’s time here was this. He loved Sunny, and she was his anchor and comfort. She was there for him as well as Victor, and as long as she was close, he felt safe. On November 15, we lost Sunny unexpectedly. He was distraught - showing his distress much more than Victor. And from that day to his death, just over a month later, his Wobbler’s symptoms increased and he clearly lost weight despite eating normally.


This picture of Sunny's boys without her broke my heart. That's Shine on the back - not even interested in breakfast.

Although at 25 years old he wasn’t the oldest Thoroughbred at the Golden Carrot, he was fragile due to his condition. Perhaps every day was even more of a struggle than I realized. His heart and determination, and the protection of his friends, made him seem more or less normal in the herd, but perhaps deep inside, each day was more work for him than I realized. If that was the case, my admiration for his strength and endurance is even greater ..... he put up a good front, for sure! As I watched his struggles to control his hind legs in his last days, my heart broke for him. He still looked at me with bright hopeful eyes for every meal; he still trusted me; he still struggled hard to do what everyone else did. But I had to end his struggles. It was clear to me he would never give up. He just had too much integrity - he WOULD keep up, no matter what. My fear that he would go down in one of these bitter cold winter nights, and struggle all night long to get up from the slippery mud, grew with each day. I couldn’t let that happen. So after another difficult day, weather warm, but his condition causing him to stagger in circles trying to keep his balance, he laid down and I could see getting up might be more than he could do. And I sent him to find our Sunny.


Sometimes, like Sunny, like Bru, like Sooner, the horses of the Golden Carrot will simply tell me when they are done. Some, like Falcon and Red, will leave me - I am left to only mourn. But sometimes, these strong, determined horses with a will to live that puts me in awe also put me in the position where I have to decide FOR them. I know things won’t improve. I know the struggles they’re dealing with every day will become more and more difficult and the quality of their life will only worsen. In nature, a wolf pack would end things for them. In man’s world, that ending becomes my duty. I’m grateful I can end it quickly for them, without pain or fear. They don’t see it coming. But I do. And a piece of me dies with each of them.


I honor Shine’s memory for his gritty effort, for his courage in the face of such vulnerability, for his sweet desire to please. I will work as hard as he did; cherish my friends the way he did; and do my best as long as I can despite difficulties, to show my respect for him. I hope he and Sunny are together now.