Kill pen horse, 16, ribbons in A-circuit shows

Future Kings, 16, is earning good ribbons in the A level Baby Greens a year after his rescue from a kill pen. Photo courtesy Marilyn Lee

Future Kings, 16, is earning good ribbons in the A level Baby Greens a year after his rescue from a kill pen. Photo by Lori Martin

A 16-year-old Thoroughbred ex-racehorse once worth a small fortune has gone from a Pennsylvania kill pen to a top Ontario horse show circuit in only a year’s time.

Future Kings, a grandson of 1979 Eclipse Award Champion Sprinter Star de Naskra, has been raking in the ribbons in the Baby Greens under the guidance of well-known rider Robin Hannah-Carlton. Almost exactly a year since the older gelding was rescued from the slaughter pipeline, Hannah-Carlton says the beautiful bay has attracted accolades, good ribbons and even a few purchase offers since she debuted the OTTB earlier this year.

“He is getting a lot of attention because of his lovely expression and his very rhythmic canter. Everybody wants to know who he is and what his breed is, and nobody believes me when I tell them he was found in a kill pen last year,” Hannah-Carlton says. “Last weekend he won every class with me and three out of four classes with another rider.”

Future Kings
Sire: Desert King
Dam: Stellar Empress, by Star de Naskra
Foal date: April 19, 2000
Competing at Caledon Equestrian Park and other A-level show grounds in Ontario, Kings has gone up against 20 horse at a time, earning good ribbons against high-quality Warmbloods who “easily” sold for $100,000, Hannah-Carlton says.

And speaking of Warmbloods, Hannah-Carlton also competes her own very fancy mare, with Grand Prix bloodlines on both sides. And Kings is beating her!

Hannah-Carlton and her mother Marilyn Lee, of Sherwood Farm in Ontario, are no strangers to the art of remaking hard-luck Thoroughbreds into show-ring dreamboats. The pair adopted OTTB Prodigioso, an ex-racehorse blinded, starved, and abandoned in the Florida Everglades several years ago. The pair adopted the chestnut gelding after he spent eight months rehabbing from injuries and trauma, and following his rescue by the South Florida SPCA. (Please see that story here:

Prodigioso and Hannah share a quiet moment at  HITS Ocala two years ago.

Prodigioso and Hannah share a quiet moment at HITS Ocala two years ago.

As they had with Prodigioso, the pair looked past the sorry state the animal was found in, and imagined the beautiful show horse he could be, Lee says.

“My daughter Robin and I both happened to be looking at Facebook and we both found King’s picture. We weren’t looking at him together, but we both recognized how cute he is,” Lee told Off Track shortly after his rescue. “We knew nothing about his story, and there’s still quite a bit of mystery about him.”

Future Kings was rescued in an effort led by Marlene Murray of R.A.C.E. Fund, Gail Hirt of Beyond the Roses, and Texas businessman John Murrell. (Please see original story here:

When the strapping bay gelding was released from quarantine, he was shipped to Lee and her daughter to take up residency next to Prodigioso. In the coming year, he will be shown in the Baby Greens. And win or lose, the one certainty is that he will remain a “prized horse” in their show barn.

Says Hannah-Carlton, “We’ve had a lot of people interested in purchasing him. My answer to everybody is: Sorry, he’s not for sale.”

11 responses to “Kill pen horse, 16, ribbons in A-circuit shows”

  1. Maria

    I hate to ask, but what is a kill pen?

    1. nahlia67yahoocom

      A kill pen horse, is one that is at auction and people including the meat brokers will bid on the horses. Some (a small portion ) go to private homes the rest to summer camps therapy . All the rest go to kill buyers who transport to Canada and Mexico for their meat !!!! They are crammed in huge trucks, no water feed . For the long trip, no stops ! At the plant they are herded into chutes and either shot in the head and hammered. Hung upside down skinned (sometimes while still alive) and butchered for their meat. Please look up horse slaughter. I have been to MANY auctions over 30 years, followed the trucks and have seen undercover film on what happens. Please do NOT allow your horse to go to auction. The out come is TERRIBLE.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Also do not put your horse up for “Free ” to good home. The kill buyers look for this and transport directly to slaughter. Check ALL references vets farriers etc. Write a document that says return if they no longer want the horse, follow up. Hope you will never experience this horror for your horse !!!

  2. heather obryan

    Maybe not 100% perfect from a kill lot but I’d say you have a 50/50 chance. Plus you can get videos and people handle them more now. You can even have them vet checked and a farrier check them. You take a chance on any horse rather you breed, shop or adopt, thanks to you that take that chance. I know I will never live w/out them.

  3. Karen Kusey

    Lexie the problem is horse people are like anyone one else today. They want instant gratification. Which is why they will spend exorbitant amounts of money on “made” imported horses.

    1. heather obryan


  4. lexi63

    anyone who spends money for a horse is a fool, your next trail, show, competitive champion is right at the nearest kill pen waiting for you . i have trained hundreds of $1000 horses & under – all ended up world class champions in their chosen field . it is rediculous to spend thousand & hundreds of thousands of dollars on horses . the kill pen horses are all the same , they are all HORSES waiting to be your next champion, with love ,kindness & respect .

    1. Susan Kauffmann

      Sorry to say, but the kill pen horses are definitely NOT all the same, and they are NOT all waiting to be someone’s next champion. While there are no doubt many horses that can be rehabilitated and some that can become champions, many are dumped at auction (and end up in kill pens) because they have serious, sometimes permanently debilitating issues. It is extremely unrealistic to say that you could pull any horse out of any kill pen and make it usable, let alone a champion. And, I don’t know of ANY trainers who have trained “hundreds” of world class champions! Given your statements, spelling, and punctuation, I suspect you are just a well-meaning kid who fantasizes about being a trainer. The problem with that is that posts like yours might encourage inexperienced people to go out and grab some horse out of a kill pen with unrealistic expectations. What do you think happens to that horse once they find out that it has crippling ringbone, advanced navicular disease, sole-penetrating laminitis, terrible arthritis, etc.? I would certainly love to see such horses get adopted and people try to help them — but you are setting those horses and those people up for failure with sweeping statements such as the ones you have made. Please be more thoughtful — and more truthful — with your posts.

    2. heather obryan

      30 yrs ago we spent $500 on a green broke Mustang. He was the best horse ever and won just a many trophies as all our AQHA buddies! Work it he/she’s worth it!

  5. Glenys McNally

    Great story. Glad to hear someone was able to give another OTTB a chance. TLC and a chance to be a show horse w/ ribbons. Others give a Thoroughbred after their racing days are over or one who may have failed a chance at fox hunting, endurance,eventing, dressage, pleasure horse, trail riding, schooling horse, and lawnmower / pasture companion.

  6. Cheri

    Long Live Future Kings… and his earth angel connections!

    1. Debbie

      I commend you for having the heart you do and seeing how much they still have to give..I’m also so great full that your not looking to profit from them by selling them..God knows what hands they could fall into again..
      Thank You😊

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