OTTB Update and a Giveaway

I would like to welcome back Shannon Hahn of Double L Stable Equine Rescue and Sanctuary in Argyle, N.Y., who I have featured several other times on Beyond the Blinkers.

Over the years since I started this blog, Shannon has come to me with different stories of horses she has helped nurse back to health, rehabilitate, and re-home.

This year, in light of Double L's upcoming Valentine's Day fundraiser, as well as the fact this will be the fifth story we have published about that operation, Shannon thought it would be a good idea to give an update on a former Double L resident that has now moved on to bigger and better things.

I hope you enjoy the story and don't forget to send your Valentines to the horses!

Also, I know it's already getting toward the end of January, but I have decided to give away another Blood-Horse calendar to a lucky reader. This year's calendar features many beautiful racing scenes from 2012, including such greats as Horse of the Year Wise Dan and European multiple champion Frankel. Leave a comment below about your favorite moment in racing from 2012 and I will select a winner at random next week.


OTTB Update: Will

It is hard to believe it's been five years of The Blood-Horse readers helping Double L Stable's horses by participating in Double L Stable's Valentine's Day Card Fundraiser Contest.

If you are new to this concept, for the past five Februarys, Beyond the Blinkers has featured a Thoroughbred who has entered into a new phase of life with the assistance of Double L.

Many fine horses have gone on to have great achievements and live long, happy lives. But some may question, does is always last? What becomes of them once they have settled in? Do they always stay put? Is the path they are set on the one they follow forever?

The very first horses featured for the fundraiser contest were Dawn (Windswept Lady) and her newborn foal, Willie, a son of Hammer (read the original story here). Readers were shocked as they learned of the abuse the mother and her colt endured at the hands of their former neglectful owner.

Almost starved to death and unable to walk do to the neglect of her abscessed feet, Dawn fought to stay alive. Willie, as he became known at the rescue, would never grace a track with his presence. In fact, due to his poor health condition it was not even known if he would grace the world with his presence for more than a few days after arriving at Double L.

Will and his dam upon first arriving at Double L 

While Windswept Lady eventually had to be euthanized due to her deteriorating condition, Will's health blossomed and he and spent his early years interacting with the handicapped and at-risk youth volunteers that frequent the stable. It was thought he may reside at Double L for the rest of his days.

As the years went by and Will continued to grow physically and mentally, Shannon recognized that the large, 17.2-hand chestnut gelding had the potential for greatness, but she did not possess the skills to unlock that talent.

Little did Shannon realize that a woman named Catrina she had emailed with three years prior would be the right person to eventually work with Will.

A native of England, Catrina had inquired about temporarily boarding her Irish Warmblood horse at Double L until the farm she had bought with her husband was ready.

Shannon explained that Double L did not board horses as a rule but if she had no luck elsewhere to contact them again and they would try to help out.

It was around a year later at a Double L fundraiser when Shannon was formally introduced to Catrina or "Cat" in person and the two women became friends.

"Cat is a wonderful rider who enjoys the challenges of riding sidesaddle," said Shannon, who during that time had put out feelers for people who might be able to start Will's formal training and get him going under saddle.

She explained that one by one, local folks who were sure they could handle the towering gelding came out to the farm only to have Will snub them or let them know by extending himself to his full height he was not interested in working within the parameters of their training styles.

Shannon started to think it was hopeless.

"The magnificent creature the sickly little baby had grown up to be did not have a nasty bone in him--he loved being the center of attention, and yet he turned down trainers one after the other," she said. "It was becoming disheartening.

"I knew with the right person Will could be a fabulous ambassador for rescue horses. He could really show the world what 'rescues' could become. He would clean up at shows, he would sweep every class he was entered in, he would wow the crowds with his regale aura, but first he needed to learn to wear a saddle..."

Last winter, Shannon's friend Cindy called and explained how Cat had recently lost her horse and asked if she could be considered as the right person to work with Will.

"I figured what could it hurt?" said Shannon. "I had met Cat before and she seemed like a very nice lady but would this petite woman be able to handle this immense steed?"

Luckily, Will seemed enthralled by Cat's training techniques, and the relationship between the horse and rider blossomed as the months passed.

Even when snow postponed their training for a few days, it didn't seem to faze Will.

"He retained every bit of information Cat offered him and picked up each time as if no lapse had occurred at all," said Shannon, adding that she knew at that point that Cat was Will's "forever person."

In the spring, Shannon and her husband Aaron helped Cat and her husband Steve build a new stall for Will so the horse could reside at their nearby farm.

In time, Cat began taking Will on short trail rides, with Shannon occasionally accompanying them aboard one of Double L's Arabians.

"Will became a confident lead horse rarely spooking and building up his level of assuredness with each word of praise Cat offered him," said Shannon.

On a warm day in June, Cat decided to make the six-mile trek from Double L to her farm with Will. The only problem the pair encountered along the way was being chased by a couple of farm dogs, after which Will took off in a full gallop across a corn field.

After a few harried moments, Cat was able to regain control, and the pair retraced their footsteps back to the road. They arrived home in fine shape and Will continues to thrive under Cat's care and training.

While Will isn't quite ready to show sidesaddle this year, he will get there, said Shannon.

"After all, look how long it took for his Cat to arrive here from across the pond and find her way into his life," she noted.

Added Cat: "He's a brilliant horse to work with--he's so eager and willing to learn. I treat him like a man, and then I make him think he's doing everything right," she said with a laugh. "He's a very big lad--he's much bigger and stronger than me, so we have a mutual respect of each other that seems to work really well."

Cat said she's taking things slow with Will and hopes to have a sidesaddle on him by the spring. 

"I'm just hoping to get the best out of him that I can...but there's no rush," she explained. "We're putting jumps up on the farm for him and he goes for everything, so every day is new excitement. He's incredibly intelligent and willing."

Will in his new home at Cat's farm


To contribute to Double L's annual Valentine's Day Card Contest Fundraiser, send a Valentine to the horses of Double L and include a single $1 bill.

"You may include more of course of you like, but a single $1 bill will enter you in the contest," explained Shannon.

Each card will be hung in the barn for visitors to see, but they must be postmarked by 3/3/13 to qualify for the contest drawing.

At the end of the following week a winner will be drawn to receive a $25 Tractor Supply Co. gift card.

Send your cards to:
The Horses at Double L Stable Equine Rescue and Sanctuary
9 Tilford Rd.
Argyle, NY 12809

Feel free to contact Shannon Hahn at
Or for more information about Double L, visit

"Thank you all who have been supportive in the past and continue to be heroes to the rescue horses!" ~Shannon Hahn


Also, don't forget to leave a comment below with your favorite industry moment from 2012 for a chance to win a 2013 Blood-Horse calendar!


Leave a Comment:


Hi Esther,

One of my favorite moments was watching, I'll Have Another and Bodemeister going 1ST & 2ND in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and then, so looking forward to a Triple Crown after all these years but, to be denied again. Maybe 2013, Will Be The Year!!

Also Frankel and Black Cavier, Finishing On Top With Winning All Their Races and Leaving Horse Racing Strong, Without Any Injuries.

And last but not least, Paynter battling back from all he's gone through in 2012, to now starting 2013 with going to be racing again, WOW!!!

I so love, reading everything you write Esther and I look forward to every one of, your blogs!!! As you have, such a beautiful way of writing that makes me feel I'm right there, as well.

25 Jan 2013 12:00 AM

My favorite moment from 2012 would have to be Ill Have Anothers triple crown run. Although he didn't quite make the triple crown he brought so much excitement and hope for a triple crown sine Affirmed in 1978, he showed us what it was to try your best and you will get there. He was amazing. And my second would have to be Frankel the British horse who swept 14 for 14 starts and was the highest rated racehorse in the world. I just loved watching him and run and when he was ready thought that horse really went and to hear the announcer say "look at him stride home" he was brilliant. I loved every minute of watching those two horses.

I hope I win. :)

25 Jan 2013 9:35 AM
Ute Shepherd

My favorite moment would have to be the story of Paynter. His fight for life and his owners devotion and determination to help him recover was truly inspiring. Hats off to Paynter, his connections and the devoted people that made his recovery and comeback possible.

25 Jan 2013 9:56 AM

I love to hear success stories like these, I wish every OTTB could have a wonderful home! My favorite moment of 2012 was Bodemeister winning the Arkansas Derby so far ahead of the rest of the field! That's when he became one of my favorite 3yos at the time.

25 Jan 2013 11:05 AM
anita b

Boy, how can I pick just one. Here are  mine--in no particular order.

I"ll Have Another's wins in the Derby and Preakness when it looked like he couldn't get to Bodemister; Union Rags Belmont win;Black Cavair win in England; Frankel and Paynter need no explanitation and Questing's race in the Alabama--every quarter run faster than previous quarter. Groupie Doll's narrow loss to Stay Thirsty. Hard to pick just one out.

25 Jan 2013 11:21 AM
Sarah T.

I have two moments that really stand out. One is getting a first-hand glimpse of Frankel's superiority and popularity while watching him win the JLT Lockinge Stakes in May.  I wasn't actually there, but I got to see it live on Irish TV, and that was quite a thrill just the same.

The second was hearing Groupie Doll's run to Breeders' Cup glory on the radio (thanks to HRRN!) while I was at work.  I couldn't attend last year, but it was an echo of the excitement I felt watching her dominate the field at Keeneland in her final prep race.

25 Jan 2013 11:42 AM
Alicia McQuilkin

I think my favorite moment of the year was when Animal Kingdom made his late surge in the BC Mile...and the announcement that he would be back to race in 2013. It showed great sportsmanship to be bringing him back after such a fantastic showing! And his speed closing in the Mile showed that he's back at the top of his game and he's ready for more!

25 Jan 2013 12:43 PM
Mary McLeod

Hi Esther!

I love your articles. Thank you for this very touching one.

My favorite moment in racing this year was when Queen Zenyatta gave birth to our Prinz. The birth of Rachel's colt is a close second. My third favorite is a fantasy moment: when the owner of a certain handsome white horse set aside his helicopter ways that kept his horse from showing the true talent he has!!!

Thank you for your excellent work!

Take care,


25 Jan 2013 12:51 PM

Hi Esther,

Another 2 Came To My Mind, After Writing Last Night And They Were:

Shacklefod and Stay Thirsty!

With Both Winning, Their Last Races Each Before Retiring To Become Stallions, WOW, They Were Both Great Races!!!

I'am Really Going To Miss Watching Shack Race, As He Was One Of My Favorites Right From When, He Started Racing!!!!

25 Jan 2013 2:39 PM

Wow, what a big guy he turned out to be!

My favorite moment from 2012 was Shackleford's heart-stopping victory in the Churchill Downs S.

25 Jan 2013 8:09 PM
Old Old Cat

Wonderful article.  My daughter Shannon has a big 17h thoroughbred named "Will", or "Good Will".  Similar sounding traits to your Will.  We will certainly send a card.  Keep up the good articles.

26 Jan 2013 2:37 PM
Bethany Loftis


Thank you for your wonderful articles! And what a truly touching story?!

My favorite moment of 2012 is hands down Paynter winning the Vox Populi. His fight for survival while maintaining his bright eye is a reminder for us all to stay strong in dark times. Then to hear this warrior wants to strut his stuff again is amazing!!!

Thank you Paynter and thank you Esther!!!

27 Jan 2013 12:12 AM

I think Paynter's coming back with that illness, really showed how he was a fighter.

27 Jan 2013 7:19 PM

Greetings!  What a great story!  I have a few greatest moments from here they are in no particular order:  Black Caviar's gutsy win in England, Frankel - need I say more?, Queen Z and Rachel's baby announcements, Paynter's come back, and Union Rag's Belmont win.  

28 Jan 2013 7:30 AM

Best racing moment of the year for me had to be Black Caviar's quick acceleration and great courage in her start at Royal Ascot. It was a thrill to see in all the wrong ways, but nonetheless a crowning achievement and another notch in the belt for one of the world's best. For personal moments, I loved seeing my beloved Union Rags get up in time at the Belmont and of course Rachel and Zenyatta having their first foals early in the year.

30 Jan 2013 11:53 AM

Little Mike winning  the Breeder's Cup....Great win for Vacarezza who don't own many horses

30 Jan 2013 12:11 PM

My favorite 2012 moment?

Paynter. What an inspiration he has been for everyone and anyone who has followed his story.

The odds were stacked against him in every possible way. Every day I would check the news, holding my breath, expecting the worst. Only to be exhilarated day after day with news of his determined will to live.

The day they released him from the clinic to go back to Bob Baffert in California, was the day we all shared a bit of victory. Especially for that scrappy little colt who refused to be defeated in the most important moment in his life.

My favorite racing moment? Shakleford's Clark Handicap. A gritty, rugged, determined colt, who tried hard every time he left the starting gate.

Surely anyone watching that last race of his, was standing up, urging and cheering that white blaze on home to the wire. I know I was. He showed he has the true heart of a champion.

30 Jan 2013 12:33 PM

Hard to believe that scrawny foal grew into that magnificent fellow - a tribute to the care he received!

Keep up the good work, love the Valentine Day card idea - I sent one last year and will this year too!

03 Feb 2013 5:02 PM

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