Duke of Wellington went off to his forever home yesterday. Duke's adoption is a bittersweet one for Sunshine volunteers. We are happy that he has found his forever home but will miss having him around the barn. Duke arrived at Sunshine after retiring from a successful racing career where he earned $119,027. When we first met Duke he showed aggression towards other horses. For the first year that we had Duke he had solo turnout and minimal interaction with other horses.
There was no aggression from Duke during his interactions with people. He is extremely affectionate and playful with everyone he meets. He is known to make silly faces as people walk by to encourage them to pay attention to him (especially if they have food!). Duke is also a favorite among trainers. He transitioned quickly into being a riding horse and is always eager to please.
With consistent training and exercise, Duke's personality mellowed. Sunshine president Kate was optimistic that Duke may be able to interact with other horses again. Kate and the other trainers slowly introduced Duke to other horses. These initial introductions were short and controlled to eliminate the risk of injury to horses and volunteers. Duke's trainers quickly discovered that he preferred the company of mares to geldings. For the rest of his time at Sunshine, Duke enjoyed turnout with a group of mares.
Seeing Duke's personality blossom during his time with Sunshine warmed the hearts of volunteers. After more than 2 years at Sunshine he became a fixture in the barn. Volunteers were used to interacting with him daily and his stall was always a popular stop for visitors to the barn. The adoption of Duke is a testament to what Sunshine Horses stands for. Like all horses that come through Sunshine, Duke's rehabilitation and training had no timeline. When we take in a horse, we are committed to the care of that horse for the rest of it's life if necessary. At thirteen years old, Duke has a full life ahead of him with a loving family and Sunshine has another happy ending.