California Guys Who Make You Jump

California puts its stamp on all who call it home, but these men don’t fit the stereotype. Their days in the sun are not spent in the sand and surf. These California men can be found at the barn and at the show ring. All successful in their own right, we asked these dedicated, hard-working professionals to share a little about their beginnings in the saddle, as well as the things that they love about horses and competition,their best memories of 2015, and their goals going forward. A deep appreciation and love of horses is certainly a common thread.

Hap Hansen

RANCHO SANTA FE, CA

Where were you born?
I was born in Los Angeles.

Where did you ride for the first time?
My very first riding lesson was with a man named Earnie Robertson at Eaton Canyon in Altadena, CA.

Do you remember your first horse?
Yes, Dobbie, part Quarter Horse, part Arab.

Do you remember your first fall?
No, I don’t remember my first fall.

Your first show?
My first show was at Eaton Canyon. But at my second show, also at Eaton Canyon, Larry Langer gave me my first blue ribbon. It was an equitation on the flat class on a school horse.

Your favorite thing about competing or working with competitors?
For me, success, improvement, and cooperation with and from the horse are number one. Same goes for working with competitors.

Your best memory of 2015 to date?
Winning a Level 7 class at Thermal and being champion for that week.

Your favorite thing about horses and what you do?
I love working with horses because they are all different and have minds of their own.

Your goals going forward – horsewise and otherwise?
My goals are to continue riding, teaching, and competing. I hope to do a lot more at the Grand Prix level.

A quote or keywords that best describe you…
I’m easy going and try to take everything in stride.

Jim Hagman

MOORPARK, CA

Where were you born?
I was born in San Gabriel, CA.

Where did you ride for the first time?
First time I sat on a horse was at my grandfather’s Hagman Ranch in South Dakota – I was 7 years old.

Do you remember your first horse?
Her name was Tootsie. She was a pony and she was amazing.

Do you remember your first fall?
I remember that well! I don’t remember the name of the horse – it was a ranch horse in Thousand Oaks. The horse ran down a steep hill with me and then stopped really fast. I went flying off. I must have been about 9 or 10 years old.

Your first show?
It was a family affair. We were a trail riding family that learned how to jump. It was an ETI – Equestrian Trials Inc. – on Big Red and it was a flat class. I spent hours and days preparing for it. They didn’t have any kid classes and the rings were full of people. I didn’t get a ribbon but I was thrilled to get an honorable mention.

Your favorite thing about competing or working with competitors?
When I really see a rider and horse click and do well together. The first time they experience that ‘wow’ moment. That’s my favorite part whether I’m on the horse or working with a rider.

Your best memory of 2015 to date?
Oh my goodness…yikes. Probably Sydney Hutchins getting Best Child Rider at Del Mar or Katie competing two horses that we bought young and made through our program, Vancouver and Barolo W. It was a career highlight and I was teary eyed.

Your favorite thing about horses and what you do?
I just absolutely love their personalities. They’re smart and they are each a little bit different. I love being in the ring, surrounded by all these great animals. The non-verbal interaction is incredible.

Your goals going forward – horsewise and otherwise?
We have a couple goals. Right now we are getting some nice hunters for Katie Gardener to compete on in the open divisions, including derbies and indoors so she can have a chance at a championship moment, and some for the grand prix ring for others.

A quote or keywords that best describe you…
Positive. Helpful. Friendly.

Richard Spooner

AGUA DOLCE, CA

Where were you born?
I was born in Redondo Beach, CA.

Where did you ride for the first time?
I was 10 years old and it was with Danielle Colbert Rainwater at the Four Seasons Farm in Huntington Beach, CA. The farm is now condominiums.

Do you remember your first horse?
Yes, Rusty. A quarter horse with the show name Business As Usual.

Do you remember your first fall?
I had a lot of falls and I don’t remember the first one. I used to fall off a lot, just like now. Some things never change.

Your first show?
I was 10 years old and I’d been riding for 3–6 months. It was a leadline class and I towered over all the six year olds. I wasn’t ready to be on my own on a horse for another year.

Your favorite thing about competing or work- ing with competitors?
Competing gives you the opportunity to see if all the work you’ve done is correct or incorrect. Competition gives you a yardstick with which you can measure your training.

Your best memory of 2015 to date?
You know what, when I won the Del Mar National Grand Prix. I had some injuries the year before and I had just started back halfway through Thermal. I would say Del Mar was the first time I could put my injuries behind me and go ride.

Your favorite thing about horses and what you do?
They deal with you from a position of honesty. They aren’t interested in who you are or what you’ve done. They’re willing to give 100% of themselves in their relationship with you. They just judge you in that moment, at that time. Every day for them is new. If you treat them honorably and justly, they will reciprocate. They deal with you the way you deal with them.

Your goals going forward – horsewise and otherwise?
My goals going forward horsewise is to try to keep getting the best possible athletes that I can so that I have the raw material to create the competitors I need and to continue to show at the top level of the sport. Also, to keep working on having a balance in my life between my competitive necessities as well as the rest of my life.

A quote or keywords that best describe you…
Well, when I was 10 years old, I rode so poorly, I was on the lunge line for about a year. At a Christmas party, I was voted most persistent. At the time, it was a bit of an insult but I would say that does sum up a lot of my personality. I have a tendency to persevere, to drive on.

Nick Haness

TEMECULA, CA

Where were you born?
I was born in Mission Viejo, CA.

Where did you ride for the first time?
I rode my very first horse in a lesson when I was 3 years old at my local community equestrian center.

Do you remember your first horse?
The first horse that I owned was Duncan McCloud – 20 years old and a mixture of about everything.

Do you remember your first fall?
All I remember is my trainer bought me a banana split after, and it was all worth while.

Your first show?
My first show was also memorable because I was 7 years old, on a 16.3 thoroughbred. My dad came to watch the class, but was obviously bored so he brought his newspaper. He opened it quickly and ripped the pages, which spooked my horse, causing him to take off around the arena. The announcer called the entire class to PLEASE WALK. My mom was having a heart attack and I thought it was fun. I was shortly thereafter excused from the class.

Your favorite thing about competing or work- ing with competitors?
My favorite thing about competing is the rush of adrenaline and thrill that is involved. From a young age, competing and being the best I could be was natural to me, coming from a family of 5 boys, Being able to perfect a skill is very rewarding. I am fiercely competitive with myself but sometimes even more with my clients when they are showing. I want them to win more than anything.

Your best memory of 2015 to date?
My best Memory of 2015 would be developing my dream home and property with my growing number of adorable animals. As a kid, I asked for ponies and other animals for Christmas but didn’t get any, we didn’t have a farm. I now have 4 miniature ponies, 6 alpacas, 1 pig, 3 cats, a dog, 4 goats, 4 western trail horses, and 20 beautiful show horses at my house.

Your favorite thing about horses and what you do?
My favorite thing about horses is the bond a person and a horse can create. It is rather magical to develop that bond with a horse from the beginning, and to see the outcome that good care and management and friendship can have between a human and a horse.

Your goals going forward – horsewise and otherwise?
I am currently doing a lot of business importing horses from Europe. I thoroughly enjoy this process and see it as a long term goal to continue for the next 10 years. I would love to focus on World Cup Finals or even Olympics when I am in my late 30s or early 40s. So right now I am hoping to save money to be financially secure enough to be able to travel and afford the demanding costs of competing at that level. My dream is to have a string of 2-3 grand prix horses and travel the world competing at the world’s finest show jumping venues.

A quote or keywords that best describe you…
Go big or go home!