Colic is a merciless thief, taking when and where it wants. Thursday afternoon, news of Shared Belief succumbing to colic left a plaintive void in horse racing and among the legion of horse lovers that transcends sport and borders. Despite advancements in surgeries and medications, some cases of colic just aren’t fixable.
Whether the horse is a demi-god like Shared Belief or a backyard pony, with a tough case of colic the decision to euthanize is both easy and difficult. Easy because after options have been tried and evaluated, it is the only path that remains to abate pain, suffering and possible further injury; when we sign on as horse owners, keeping horses pain-free and comfortable is our creed. Difficult because, admit it or not, we love them, and consider them family; and we grieve and don’t want to let them go…
Shared Belief was a tremendous race horse. Fast, game, tactical, an Eclipse Award champion. His lithe, aerodynamic frame skipped over the track, besting war horses like California Chrome and Moreno. In the Charles Town Classic, jockey Mike Smith felt Shared Belief wasn’t travelling correctly and pulled him up. It turned out the favorite had a non-displaced fracture of the point of a hip. With stall rest, rehabbing at Pegasus Equine Rehabilitation and Training Center (the Mayo Clinic of horse facilities) and a leisurely return to life at the track, the four-year-old gelding was on course.
That is until something went awry in the loops, curves and switchbacks that characterize the geography of a horse’s intestines. According to Jim Rome on Jungle Racing’s Facebook page, Shared Belief was observed being uncomfortable and treatment started immediately, see link below. Unresponsive to initial protocols, Shared Belief was emergency shipped to University of California, Davis Equine Surgical Emergency and Critical Care Service where it was discerned surgery was the only recourse.
No veterinarian wants to say and no owner wants to hear that a horse is compromised to the point of needing surgery to resolve an acute colic. Shared Belief was unable to overcome colic’s assault on his system and did not survive.
Requiescat in pace.