Losing a younger retiree unexpectedly is always an especially hard blow. I say “always,” but you never get used to it because no loss is like another, just as no other horse will ever be Slim Shadey. In his prime he was a talented and determined athlete and he remained a valiant competitor until his retirement from racing at eleven.
One of Slim Shadey’s biggest fans in those days was Michael Blowen. As Slim approached the time of his retirement from racing, Michael worked in concert with Slim’s last two racing owners, Michael Dubb and Michael Hui, to make sure Slim would have the secure home he’d so emphatically earned.
When Slim Shadey retired to Old Friends in September 2019, he still had a lot of the no-nonsense professional about him, but being a smart horse, he paid attention to his surroundings and quickly figured out that Old Friends is about relaxation and having fun.
It took him a few tries to find just the right friends. Not Persie. Not Star Spangled Heat. But once he moved in with Saratoga Episode and Tuneintobow, Slim Shadey found his soul mates. Especially, Saratoga Episode.
We hoped their friendship would last for many years. We wanted to keep spending good times with Slim through middle age and into old age. It’s hard to believe he’s gone from us. But, as explained by Dr. Bryan Waldridge, Old Friends’ veterinarian. “Slim Shadey showed signs of colic and was referred for further diagnostics and treatment. Exploratory surgery revealed a twisted large intestine that was corrected. Unfortunately, he fractured a hind leg recovering from anesthesia. Bone fractures during recovery from anesthesia are uncommon, but an inherent risk of equine anesthesia.”
Through Slim’s retirement, he remained one of Michael’s favorites on the farm. They were great friends. “Slim Shadey was on Old Friends radar for nearly two years,” he said. “Between Michael Dubb and Michael Hui, I knew he was in great hands. When Hui called to say he was ready I was overjoyed. Today I was equally devastated. You try to do what’s best and, even then, it doesn’t always work out.”
Yet, as far too brief as Slim’s retirement was, if his being a happy horse counts as things working out pretty well, then it did work out. From a competitor with a bit of an attitude, he softened into a free spirit, by turns playful, feisty, and affectionate. We at Old Friends are privileged to have been part of this contented time in his life. We will always remember Slim Shadey.
photos by Laura