You’re going to use that thoroughbred for what?

Each week a different expert ranks three OTTBs in terms of their suitability for a specific discipline. This week features the mother-daughter hunt ring duo Marilyn Lee and Robin Hannah.

This Week’s Evaluator: Marilyn Lee and her daughter, Robin Hannah of Sherwood Farm in Ontario.

Chosen Discipline: Hunters

Favorite Thoroughbreds: Northern Dancer (hey, we’re Canadian), Clever Trick,  Seabiscuit, Devil’s Bag, Genuine Risk and, of course, the legendary Ruffian.

Horse 1: Well Run Dry

2007 Grey Thoroughbred Gelding, 16.1 hands

Bloodlines: Wekiva Springs x Double Whammy by Double Negative

Race Record: 8 starts, 1 first, 2 seconds and 1 third. $10,505

Listing Location: MidAtlantic Horse Rescue

Well Run Dry2

Horse 2: Bopster

2007 Chestnut Thoroughbred Gelding, 15.3 hands

Bloodlines: Bop x Saratoga Souvenir by Souvenir Copy

Race Record: 2 starts, no placings. $660

Listing Location: MidAtlantic Horse Rescue

Horse #2: Bopster

Horse #2: Bopster

Horse 3: Pensylvaniaexpress

2005 Bay Thoroughbred Gelding, 16.1 hands

Bloodlines: B L’s Appeal x Tigress Express by Polish Numbers

Race Record: 62 starts-7 firsts, 6 seconds, and 11 thirds. $137,717

Listing Location: MidAtlantic Horse Rescue

Horse #3: Pensylvaniaexpress

Horse #3: Pensylvaniaexpress

How we ranked them: 3-1-2

Horse #1: Well Run Dry

Our first impression was this horse has a lovely expression.Sweet face, and ears forward.In the videos he appears to be listening at all times to the rider.In the hunter ring, first impression is important.We envision he would trot into the hunter ring with a willing presence.

Well Run Dry over fences

Well Run Dry over fences

Though we did not have conformation photos, in general he appears to be well put together.Perhaps a tad downhill (haunches higher than withers) but in watching the videos he does not appear to move that way. He will benefit from consistent work to increase the impulsion from the hind end, pushing him forward into the trot rather than running on the front end. This is typical of many green horses and definitely will develop with training.

In the jump videos, he seems very keen and willing.He jumps up with good technique, square knees, landing quietly on the other side.

This horse shares the same grandsire (Runaway Groom) as our very successful hunter Passionate Groom. If this horse develops like Passionate Groom, he should have a brilliant show career ahead of him.

Great attitude, easy going, would make a lovely child or amateur mount.

We ranked him # 2.


Horse #2: Bopster

The photos and video of this horse are very different; in fact, we had to check the hind stockings to ensure it was indeed the same horse.In the photos, we see a very athletic bright chestnut, very athletic.Put on 200 pounds and a winter coat and our impression was quite different.

Bop at the trot

Bop at the trot

In both photos and videos Bop does appears to be an athletic horse, perhaps even with a little spice! He appears to move correctly; however, we would like to see him on a looser rein being allowed to move freely forward from the shoulder. We do recognize this is not always possible on a green thoroughbred on a chilly wintery day! In the videos, we see him learning to accept the rider’s contact.At times he could appear a bit grabby and going into a false frame, but this is common of green horses. He has a nice, balanced and rhythmical canter.

This horse has Mr. Prospector, Raise a Native, and Native Dancer in his lines.

From the video, we would say this horse might more be suited as a jumper or eventing prospect. 

For our purposes, looking for the hunter type, we would put him # 3.


Horse #3: Pennsylvaniaexpress

First impression, this horse has the “wow” factor.Beautiful head and neck, exceptional way of going and huge presence.This horse could also require the most work to make quiet, and likely not suitable for a novice rider. His conformation has the components of what we look for in a show ring hunter prospect: impressive head and neck, compact body style, powerful hind end, good top line.



He has a “l” step enabling him to easily meet the set hunter lines.It is quite possible that of the three, he would also require the most “working down” preparation prior to a class. This is in no way a deterrent but does require time and patience. It appears he is the most green and keen of the three.

Danzig, Northern Dancer and Buckpasser are in his lines.

We place this horse # 1, for a top hunter prospect for an advanced rider.With time, training, and preparation time at show, we envision Pennsylvaniaexpress could excel in the show hunter ring.



If you think an off-track Thoroughbred might be right for you, no matter what the discipline, find out more information on what to look for, how to purchase and get re-training tips at


Mid-Atlantic Horse Rescue is a federal 501(c)3 non profit organization that buys slaughter bound ex-racehorses and adopts them into good homes as pleasure and sport horses.  More info at

About the Authors:

Sherwood Farm, purchased in 2008, is truly a family affair.  Robin Hannah does the training, coaching, riding and showing. Her husband, Rob, who works elsewhere full-time, looks after the property, the equipment and is a tremendous help to Robin in the barns with the horses. Mother Marilyn, handles the business and marketing and communications end including all show management.Robin and Marilyn team up to do all the purchasing and sales of farm horses.With Fort Erie Racetrack only 20 miles away, the area is an excellent source for OTTBs needing second careers.

Marilyn showed A circuit as a junior, then amateur, for approximately 10 years with Hodgson Farm in Hudson, Quebec.She showed in the era when the OTTB still dominated many equestrian disciplines and that exposure inspired a lifelong passion for the breed.That passion spilled over into her daughter Robin and now others in their barn are developing this passion by osmosis.

Robin began riding and showing at 10 and has never stopped. It became her professional career at the early age of 17.As a 14-year-old, she chose her first horse straight from the track.No parental or coach influence.It was purely her own choice.He was a son of Clever Trick, Balmy Beach, only 15.2 hh and with a fiery temperament and the speed of light, and together they excelled in the jumper ring. 

She has trained and ridden both in Canada and the U.S., with Canadian Team rider John Pierce and West Coast hunter trainer/judge Carleton Brooks.She was the only Canadian trainer to take part in the 2013 RRTP Thoroughbred Makeover at Pimlico.

Robin now has a client base of her own of about 60 students, both lesson and show at Sherwood Farm in Niagara, Canada. She continues to show both hunter and jumper, as do her proteges.Sherwood Farm is represented in Ocala, FLA in the winter, Georgia in the spring, Canada throughout the show season, and Virginia in the autumn.

A quick note from Marilyn on how they choose horses: “Since most winning horses “back in the day”, in our part of the world anyway, were thoroughbreds, we never thought much about bloodlines or track records. It really was not that important to us. In fact, no one really talked about what a horse was, in terms of breeding, but rather what could it do, in terms of performance. Soundness, conformation, talent and heart were what mattered.

I now have a fascination in tracing the pedigree of OTTBs, but it is more for interest than anything else.  We have made quick “shedrow purchases” before even asking pedigree.  These purchases have been based on movement, conformation, temperament exhibited, and gut feel.  Rarely have we been disappointed.  This natural gut feeling is a sixth-sense, honed by experience”

More info at


Leave a Comment


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *