Hannah is an in-demand horse rider and passionate advocate for Thoroughbred Aftercare Programs that help retired racehorses find new homes and new careers. She has ridden for some of the top thoroughbred trainers in the country at places like Saratoga, Churchill Downs and Gulfstream Park.
Q - I always feel like people in the horse business were exposed to it really young. What’s your first memory of horses?
I’m definitely no exception! My first clear memory, and still one of my fondest, was when Dad and I took our two horses Jed and Misty out on Wadmalaw Island (where “The Notebook” was filmed). We came up on this incredible sunflower field.. and so there we were, in the middle of nowhere, South Carolina riding through this magical field of sunflowers. It was…. well, I will just never forget that.
Q - Best horse you’ve ever ridden?
I’ve never cared that much how fast they run, but I’d have to say my fave horse ever was probably Laney. She was so spicy! She’d come back from the track and chat (squeal) to everyone about what she did out there! She was graded stakes placed so she’s having a nice retirement as a broodmare. I miss her every single day.
Q - Describe a typical day?
Snooze multiple alarms (laughing). Get up around 4am and head to Churchill Downs. Check on the whole barn before riding 9 or 10 horses on the track. Then I hang out with my crew for a bit, maybe drink a cider or two and eat a beef stick and a hard-boiled egg pack for protein, and then it’s off the farm where the retired horses are. We train them along slowly so they can fulfill a variety of roles in their retirement. Some go on to be top class competitive show jumpers or eventers, and some end up being a little kid's pony or pet. They’re amazing animals and rehoming them after their careers is a passion of mine.
Q - So between riding all those thoroughbreds and going to the farm, do you have any energy for other pursuits?
Yeah, it’s kinda like “When I’m not on a horse, I’m on a different horse”! No, but seriously, I also adore plants and I love my garden. In Louisville, I live in a pretty vibrant, urban neighborhood - which is new for me - so my garden is my refuge!
Q - Your favorite Thoroughbred rehoming story?
West of Ireland! Gosh, he was as slow as molasses! Not an athletic bone in his body, so we sent him out to figure out what kind of second career he had in him (they all have one in there somewhere!).They renamed him Winston, and he took to the eventing scene like a duck to water! Turns out he’s amazingly athletic, it’s just that racing wasn’t for him. He’s quite valuable now, and has a long career ahead of him, so he’s just a great example of seeing potential where there doesn’t appear to be any!
"I've never really cared much how fast they run, but my favorite horse ever was Laney - she was so spicy! She's retired now, I miss her every single day"