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.
Barn name: River
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.”
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.”