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 Summer Thurber of Thoroughbred Retirement of Tampa.

 This Week’s Evaluator: Summer Thurber of Sarasota, FL., long-time OTTB enthusiast and Vice President of Thoroughbred Retirement of Tampa (TROT).

Chosen Discipline: Hunters/jumpers/pleasure/rehab care

Horse #1: Kissing Bandit

Horse #1: Kissing Bandit

Horse #1: Kissing Bandit

  • Foaled in Pennsylvania, February 18, 2008
  • 15.3-hand dark brown gelding
  • By Bluegrass Cat, out of Lofty Lizzy by Unbridled’s Song
  • 25 starts: 4 firsts, 1 second, 2 thirds. $96,440 in earnings. Last raced 12/4/2013, finished 9th.
Horse #2: Justingo Shiner

Horse #2: Justingo Shiner

 Horse #2: Justingo Shiner

  • Foaled in Kentucky, March 19, 2010
  • 15.1-hand dark brown gelding
  • By Indygo Shiner, out of Johnny Turk Band by Chimes Band
  • 9 starts: 1 first, 0 second, 1 third. $15,450 in earnings. Last raced 11/21/12, finished 10th.
Horse #3: Bold Question

Horse #3: Bold Question

 Horse #3: Bold Question

  • Foaled in California, January 20, 2008
  • 16.1-hand chestnut mare by Whywhywhy, out of La Trezieme by French Deputy
  • 58 starts: 8 firsts, 7 seconds, 11 thirds. $122,465 in earnings. Last raced 12/11/13, finished 11th.


Third place: Justingo Shiner

A fantastic little horse.I love his strong shoulder and refined beautifully sweet face. Neck looks to be a bit short but tied in well to his shoulder.I’d bet that Justin is a pleasure to be around, super kind, and overall easy. A bit on the shorter side, but more than makes up for his height with his strong build.Nice short back to go with his overall handsome looks.

Justingo Shiner's sire, Indygo Shiner, who passed away this past year.

Justingo Shiner’s sire, Indygo Shiner, who passed away this past year.

This boy is sure to make anyone happy in any discipline he shows potential in.Having the bone spur may prevent upper level disciplines, but then again, he may never show any issue, he is a Thoroughbred after all! They are tough kids! I’d say he would really shine as a child’s hunt seat mount or an incredibly handsome pleasure ride.


Second place: Kissing Bandit

From first view, this is my favorite horse of the three. I don’t claim to have ANY type of formal training or schooling when making this type of evaluation. I like him. It’s a gut feeling. 

Kissing Bandit--gotta love that face!

Kissing Bandit–gotta love that face!

After glancing at his race record, after seeing the photo, I like him even more. I’ll take a hard working winner with perhaps some wear and tear over a non winning, perfectly flawless horse that never really tried or thrived at the track.There is something about a horse that has done some time racing and has finished up sound. 

Kissing Bandit's sire, Bluegrass Cat. Kissing Bandit sold for $110,000 as a yearling.

Kissing Bandit’s sire, Bluegrass Cat. Kissing Bandit sold for $110,000 as a yearling.

He looks to have a thicker left front ankle and tendon, hard to tell from the photo angles.His hind legs seem quite straight, and he cribs. All that being said… he has a fantastic presence, an intelligent look to his eye.I like his engine (rear end), and he looks to have a nice barrel to take up some leg. I like his size–15.3 isn’t too small and isn’t too big.He’s a Thoroughbred; he can naturally lengthen his stride to make those hunter strides between fences, and could easily zip around the tight turns of a jumper course.Great for trail riding, no need for a mounting block to get on, and the spider webs won’t be as likely to catch you in the face as when riding a giant (trust me on this one, I know from experience!) He just looks like a great horse.  I can see this gelding in the jumper ring, or perhaps the eventing world after some time off to decompress.


First place: Bold Question

At first glance, nothing really jumps out at me that makes me giddy. Looks to be a nice and leggy ginger haired mare.Inquisitive eyes.

Here is a "Bold Question": Do you like red mares?

Here is a “Bold Question”: Do you like red mares?

She had 58 starts with 8 firsts, 7 seconds, and 11 thirds. This mare is competitive, tough, and scrappy.

Bold Question's sire, Whywhywhy

Bold Question’s sire, Whywhywhy

I wonder if perhaps she is a cribber by the thickness of her throatlatch area.Pasterns are quite long and she looks to “park” herself out or maybe brace with her hind end. Maybe her back/SI joint/hocks are sore and she just needs some rest to relax and loosen up.Tied in behind the knee and over at the knee. I do like her nice full rear end and big shoulder. Bold Question is a nice industry favored size, standing at 16.1 hands.I’m a sucker for a snip and a mare, so I of course, like this horse a lot.

I am never one to judge a horse’s ability by its conformation.I personally ride a super long backed, straight legged, sway backed, big headed horse.He is beyond athletic and has always been sound in his new career, against all his “faults” that would seemingly predispose him to lameness in the jumping world.Out of the three horses, I see the most conformational faults in this horse, yet she was the highest money earning, had the most starts, and seems to be the “strongest” horse in my opinion. 

After much debate given my initial adoration for Kissing Bandit, Bold Question is my pick, if I were to choose a horse of the three. The red headed mare prevails in my quirky world of opinion. After some much deserved time to relax, I bet this gal goes on to have a very successful second career and takes great care of her riders, perhaps a confident and experienced rider in the tack, and she will be the perfect partner in whatever discipline chosen.


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


CANTER of Pennsylvania is a free service offered to racing trainers and owners to help them find non-race homes for their retiring racehorses. There are no fees charged to new owners. More info at


Name: Summer Dawne Thurber

Married for 14 years to JT and we have two sons (Jaden, 11) and Keegan (8).

From Summer: “I’ve been riding OTTBs since I was able to tie my paddock boots myself. Grew up in Southern California. Not much to ride in So Cal in those days besides mustangs and retired racehorses.  So the passion began young with a noble steed, Skyhawk. That big red gelding taught me everything I needed to know. Also took me for a spin around Del Mar racetrack while no one was looking! I competed in the hunter ring and traveled throughout my childhood and into my teens. I took a long break from horses in my early adult years, only to find myself brought back to “life” by a beautiful gray thoroughbred gelding named Dalton. 

Summer and Silver Squire

Summer and Silver Squire

I’ve since had the pleasure of owning and loving many OTTBs. Silver Squire was my first OTTB I purchased as an adult, and I tragically lost him far too soon.  I currently ride and show my horse, Man That Alarm (Micah), as a jumper. He is just beginning his career after a long break due to a suspensory injury at the track. I adopted “Micah” from Thoroughbred Retirement of Tampa (TROT). I also adopted Village Lady from TROT, a bay thoroughbred mare, as a companion only to Micah.  I have since joined the board of directors as Vice President of TROT. 

TROT is the official retirement and aftercare program for Tampa Bay Downs.  I continue to privately retire, rehab, and place racehorses directly off the track myself, as well as keep all the TROT horses in my care and assist in their placement.  I take enormous pride in the relationships I’ve built and continue to build within the aftercare community. I hold myself to an incredibly high standard of honesty and integrity and expect the same from my adopters, both personally and through TROT.  With every horse that leaves my care, I know myself and/or TROT have made the best decisions with the information we have, to get another retired racehorse placed into an excellent new home or career, thus making room for another retiree at the farm.

It’s about quality, not quantity, in retirement and placement.  It’s about the horses and the industry, not the egos and praise. Keep up the good work everyone! I’m honored and proud to be included in this group of reviews! I’d love to hear how things turn out for these three wonderful horses that deserve the best life has to offer.”

More information on Thoroughbred Retirement of Tampa (TROT) can be found here:


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