MOOREVILLE – If you’re trying to find Hanna Hussey, check the pasture or the barn. Wherever you find horses, you’ll probably find her.
“I just like it. I like to ride. I ride in the rain all the time,” she said. “The horses are used to it. I rode in the snow before. It was fun.”
“It was cold,” said her mother, Debbie Hussey.
“It was also fun,” Hanna replied.
At 10 years old, the Mooreville Elementary fifth-grader is a seasoned rider. She competes in 4-H competitions throughout the Southeast, and it’s actual work to figure out where to store all of the trophies and belt buckles she’s won.
“It’s hard to keep up with everything she’s done,” Debbie Hussey said. “I have to put everything in scrapbooks, or I couldn’t keep up with it all.”
Hanna started competing when she was 2 years old. That was shortly after her parents, Debbie and Herman Hussey, bought her first pony.
“I can’t remember when she wasn’t riding. I have a video when we let a friend show Hanna’s first pony,” Debbie Hussey said. “You can hear her on the tape. You can hear her saying, ‘That’s my pony. I can do that.’ She was 2.”
Horses take up most of her time. Sure, she likes to swim, and movies are fun, too.
“Flicka,” a film about a girl who tames a wild horse, is her favorite. Her dollhouse is a stable, and it’s filled with dozens of tiny toy horses.
“I do my homework at school so I can ride when I get home,” she said.
There’s more to keeping horses than riding them. They’ve got to be fed and brushed. Stalls have to be cleaned out.
“I don’t really have any chores,” she said. “I just come out here and do it. I don’t do it because I have to.”
Chester is her pony, and they’re pretty good friends.
“I think he enjoys when I come to the barn to play with him,” she said. “I don’t know if he likes when I ride him seriously, but I think he likes it when we play.”
These days, Hanna competes with Chester and six other horses. Her events include trail, halter, showmanship, Western pleasure, horsemanship and English pleasure.
She also takes part in timed events, and hooks Chester up for pony cart.
“Chester will do anything I ask him to do,” Hanna said.
One of the quarter horses her grandfather raised is a different story.
“Sometimes, Rose doesn’t want to listen,” Hanna said. “The other day, I had her doing some cool things. My mom wasn’t here. When my mom came out here to watch, she wouldn’t do them.”
Trophies and buckles
When a competition is approaching, she’ll put two or three horses through their paces a day to get them ready.
All that – well, we can’t call it work – but all of that effort has paid off. She’s racked up a long list of victories.
Just this year, she was region champion at a show in Clemson, S.C. She was named Junior High Point Exhibitor at shows in Verona and Jackson.
Hanna and Chester have been featured in Southern Living, along with other members of the Southern Belle Pony Cart Club.
Sometimes, she’ll take a horse or a pony to a friend’s house to ride, or her friends will come to the family’s land in Mooreville.
Bareback or saddle or sitting in a cart, Hanna has a pretty good idea about where she belongs.
“If a kid likes it, they do it,” Debbie Hussey said. “If they don’t, forget it. It has to be in her for Hanna to do what she does.”
Someday, Hanna would like to compete in Olympic equestrian events. She also has a short-term objective in mind.
Debbie Hussey used to show horses, and she won a belt buckle that’s far bigger than any of the buckles her daughter has earned.
“That’s my goal,” Hanna said with a smile. “I’ve been trying to win one as big or bigger than that.”
Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal