An Unwanted Replacement - Shine's Story
by Nat W.

I have a lightly dappled-gray gelding called Shine. I've been riding him for about six years now; since I was nine. I don't like to think about the day I got Shine. It was my ninth birthday and I woke up early. I had been told not to disturb my parents before 8 am, but it was only 6:30! So I got up, dressed, and went down to the paddock to say hi to Cadet, my pony. Cadet and I had been partners in crime for exactly four years to that day, and I couldn't wait to say Happy Birthday to him. I hurried over to the fence and whistled. Nothing happened. I whistled again, worried, and then climbed over the fence and searched the paddock. Cadet was gone. I ran into the house screaming at my parents to wake up. My mother sat up and rubbed her eyes.
"Do you have any idea what time it is, Nat?"
When I told her that Cadet was missing, she was shocked and got Dad to ring the police. They came to the house straight away, and tearfully I told them what had happened. They said they would look into it, and drove away.
I wanted to search for Cadet, but my parents made me stay at home. Whenever the phone rang, I would run to pick it up, but it was never the police. Late that afternoon, a horsebox pulled up to our house. I ran outside to see Cadet. The box was
opened and a pony whinnied. But I knew that it wasn't Cadet. This was a larger, gray pony. A lovely, young dapple gray. But I didn't want any other pony, I only wanted Cadet. My mum came out and said that this was my birthday present, a new pony. But I didn't want him. I saw Shine as a replacement, and I wasn't interested. I just wanted Cadet back. And deep down, I was scared. I thought that if I loved another pony, it might get stolen also, and I'd have to go through it all again. So for the first few weeks, I refused to go anywhere near Shine. One beautiful, sunny day, I missed Cadet more than ever. Before, I would have run down to the paddock to ride Cadet as soon as I got up, but now he was gone. I went out into the paddock and sat down under the shade of Cadet's favorite tree and began crying. After awhile, I felt a soft nose touching my shoulder. I'd forgotten about Shine, and I felt sick just looking at him. I turned and walked away, but he followed me. I chased him away, but he just kept coming back. Finally, I let him come up to me, and I stroked his neck. He stood quickly as I put my arms around him and sobbed. I cried myself to sleep out in the paddock, and when I woke up, Shine was lying
next to me, watching me. We've been together ever since, and we have a great partnership. I'm always afraid that something will happen to him, but I don't let that stop me from loving him. He has been a fantastic pony for me, and at the end of this
season, my little sister Brooke will start riding him. He'll be 18 by the time she grows out of him, and will stay in our family forever. I never saw Cadet again after that fateful day. To this day, I don't know what happened to him. I will always miss him, but I wonder sometimes that if I hadn't lost him, would I have Shine now? It seems a fair trade for the best friend I've ever had.

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