October 2, 2013
By Tara MatslerThe American Quarter Horse Journal
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Hanna Norman and Willyinthe Moonlight entered youth hunter under saddle and showmanship at the 2013 Nutrena AQHA East Novice Championship Show. (Journal photo)
In a day and age when America’s youth seem to be a tad bit short on a good work ethic, direction and a healthy sense of responsibility, it’s refreshing to meet Hanna Norman.
The Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, teenager juggles school and working for her family’s business, a bus company, where Hanna works hard at cleaning the vehicles. Oh, and then there are horses. For the past five years, Hanna has worked her way up the horse-show ladder.
She started out with a mare by the name of Iris Boston Scotch and earned the 2008 Justin Rookie of the Year 11 & Under with Kid Stylin. Now, you’ll find Hanna paired up with Willyinthe Moonlight (Only In The Moonlight-Docs Bo Sassy by Docs Bo Acres).
“My aunt and trainer, Lora, bought ‘Willy’ and showed him in hunter under saddle,” 15-year-old Hanna told the Journal. “He does hunter under saddle and showmanship.”
And those are the two events that brought Hanna and Willy to the 2013 Nutrena AQHA East Novice Championship Show in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Hanna and Willy are the perfect example that hard work and determination does pay off.
“If you would have asked her this spring if she was going to be here, I bet you her answer would have been ‘no,’ ” says her trainer, Lora Knelly-Thomas, an AQHA Professional Horseman from Berwick, Pennsylvania.
“She’s very, very driven and hard-working,” Lora adds. While Hanna is quiet, and clearly modest about her success, Lora is quick to point out just how far she has seen Hanna come, especially in the past year.
Hanna shares a passion for horses with her aunt, Stephanie Windecker. The pair happens to be the sole horse-interested folks in their family. Taking a page out of her aunt’s horse-show book, Hanna already has her sights set on the next level of AQHA competition: the Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show in Oklahoma City. But for 2013, Hanna’s focus is on success in Murfreesboro.
Out of her and Willy’s two events, Hanna says showmanship is her personal favorite. It can be surmised that Willy shares this sentiment, since it is rumored that he prefers a leisurely pace in life.
Hanna definitely has what it takes to do well in showmanship, Lora says, which is evidenced by Hanna pointing out of the Novice level this year.
“Hanna’s good at putting her game face on and just going to it.”
That’s a book we can hope many a youth will take a page out of it.