Flea-bitten gray ribbons against pros at HITS

Passionate Groom and rider Abigail Fox, 11, of Ontario, ribboned at HITS Ocala last week.

Passionate Groom and rider Abigail Fox, 11, of Ontario, ribboned at HITS Ocala last week.

A stately flea-bitten gray, with the classic Thoroughbreds looks often memorialized in oil paintings, stepped into the show ring at HITS-Ocala last week and was immediately pinned with ribbons.

Passionate Groom, 17, took 6th and 8th in the Thoroughbred Over Fences class with 11-year-old rider Abigail Fox, who showed him for the first time, and against professionals, says her coach Robin Hannah-Carlton.

Passionate Groom
Barn name: River
Sire: Groomstick
Dam: Passionate Terry
Foal date: March 10, 1998
“That was a really good result because many of the riders were professionals, and it was Abigail’s first time showing him,” Hannah-Carlton says, noting that the old gentleman horse and young girl make the perfect pair. “Abigail has a Warmblood, who is great, and a couple of ponies, but she’s leasing Passionate Groom from my mother and I because he’s such a great teacher.”

Hannah-Carlton’s mother Marilyn Lee of Ontario purchased passionate Groom four years ago. Spotted at a horse show, Lee took a shine to him right away. “There was something about him that reminded me of the Thoroughbred back in the day,” Lee recalls. “I call him my perfect gentleman, he is just faultless when it comes to his manners. He’s kind, he’s talented, and he goes like a refined hunter went 40 years ago.”

Marilyn Lee enjoys her stately gentleman back on the farm in Ontario.

Marilyn Lee enjoys her stately gentleman back on the farm in Ontario.

Though she has enjoyed some nice hacks, and some low-level classes with him, Lee admits that his days in the show ring are best spent with the younger, more talented generation. “When I got him, I realized his place was in the show ring, and my place was not in the show ring,” she says.

Passionate Groom was paired with Abigail, her daughter’s longtime protégé, so that he could stretch his legs in front of an admiring horse-show audience. “She’s a tremendous young rider,” Lee says. “And he embodies what the Thoroughbred can be.”

Watching the pair from her vantage in Ontario, Lee couldn’t be more proud of the gent she purchased without so much as a vet check or a test ride.

“The first time I saw him at someone else’s barn, I thought, if I was going to buy a horse for myself, he’d be the horse I’d buy,” Lee says. “The next time I saw him, two weeks later at at a show, I said, you know what, I’m going to buy him. He’s just such a sweetheart, and he has a tremendous young rider with him now. I’m thrilled.”

4 responses to “Flea-bitten gray ribbons against pros at HITS”

  1. Marcie Freeman

    This horse’s grand sire was Runaway Groom, Canadian Racing Hall of Famer who won the Travers Cup in the late 1980s beating the American favorites, winners of the Belmont, Kentucky Derby and Preakness in a spectacular come-from-behind upset.

    My own flea-bitten gray, Runaway Song, shares this lineage. Trained but never raced, she was rescued from a kill auction and is a sweet, athletic mount.

  2. cheri vaughan

    Depth of passion is so apparent with this pair! Bravo Abigail and Passionate Groom! BRAVO!!!!!!!!

  3. Susan Crane-Sundell

    He looks like he was painted by Munnings! What a true type sport horse! Congratulations to the two of them. Abigail looks like she is a perfect partner for this stately Groom. Horses and their humans: When you know, you just know!

  4. Michelle Y.

    He does look like a perfect gentleman!! I love his coloring.

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