Hannah Selleck: Hitting Her Stride

 After a huge setback, Hannah is at the top of her game. PHOTOS BY George Kamper

Hannah Selleck could easily have given up. Now 34 years old, with a degree in communications from Loyola Marymount University and having started an MBA at the prestigious Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, no one would have questioned if Hannah had traded her pristine white breeches for patent heels and a MacBook Pro.

But the combination of supple leather and the clatter of horses’ hooves reeled Hannah back to face the tough competition of the sport’s elite. In the summer of 2018, while competing at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta, Hannah shattered her tibia and fibula after her magnetic stirrups failed to release correctly when her horse abruptly stopped at a jump. The outcome was a six-hour surgery, intensive physical therapy, and an utterance from a doctor that she might “never run again.”

ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup 1.60m 5* Spruce Meadow’s North American Tournament 

But she didn’t quit. Far from it. “I think when someone says you can’t do something, grit and determination kick in, but it wasn’t easy,” Hannah reflects.

A sense of self and perseverance are traits Hannah developed early. Perhaps learned from her parents, the actor Tom Selleck and seasoned ballerina Jillie Mack—two careers that don’t come without hard work and resolve. Additionally, both her parents were interested in the equestrian world. “My dad knew how to ride,” describes Hannah. “He had learned how to ride western quite well for acting, and he really took time and learned—he’s a good horseman.”

On the other hand, her mother picked up the sport alongside Hannah. “We learned together, and maybe, for a while, my mum was even more into it than I was.” (Hannah was only 4 years old when she first landed in the saddle.) But soon, it was Hannah begging to spend afternoons at the nearby Foxfield Riding School in Westlake Village, California. “She’s ultimately a dancer,” describes Hannah of her mother. “So, she only did it short term.”

For Hannah, the sport stuck, and the early brushes with fear and tumbles didn’t deter her. She navigated her way through the pony ranks, gradually gaining confidence and courage to ride the spirited glossycoated show ponies that were winning. The switch flipped for Hannah. “It was suddenly okay; I’ve got to do this. I want to be in there. I want to have a piece of it,” admits Hannah.

Taking Off

Make no mistake, Hannah has unequivocally “been in there” doing the hard work for years. Her upward trajectory continued as she accrued a string of successes in junior championships, winning the Platinum Performance USEF Show Jumping Talent Search, and moved into her amateur career, making her mark in the open jumper rings with her first grand prix win in 2010 in California aboard Tosca van het Lambroeck, a Belgian Warmblood mare. By 2012, Hannah was riding as a professional and earning top-five finishes in Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, and at numerous U.S.-based competitions, aboard a string of high-performance horses.

Ultimately, Hannah has plotted her own path up through the top level of the sport, from the grueling early mornings to the heavy training schedule (for both her and her horses) and weathering the tedious lulls between time in the ring.

“Wins feel like the reward for doing the work and the assurance to keep trying when you have failed hundreds of times before,” says Hannah. “Winning made me fall in love with this sport. What first attracted me was my love of the animal—of horses—and once I felt the rush of winning, I was hooked.”


This year, after competing in the Florida circuit, Hannah competed in New York at the Old Salem Farm spring shows before settling down at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta, for several weeks of high-level show jumping. And this is where the magic became visible. To everyone who has been watching this developing relationship between Hannah and Cloud 39, the 12-year-old scopey grey warmblood gelding she recently purchased from her coach Mario Deslauriers, their bond is palpable. Last year, Hannah had the unexpected opportunity to ride Cloud into the ring for an awards ceremony at Spruce Meadows while Mario was stuck in the International Ring. “I could feel Cloud was big and comfortable just from the walk,” Hannah notes.

Jayman Built Cup 1.55m 5* Qualifier Spruce Meadows’s North American Tournament. 

While at Spruce Meadows, this impressive horse and rider team convincingly navigated their way into the 5* competitions. Hannah attributes the results in the ring to the alchemy of her partnership with Cloud 39. “Having a horse with that kind of experience gives you confidence,” Hannah admits. That said, Cloud 39 is not without his quirks and eccentricities. “He can be a little wild at home,” she laughs. “Sometimes, he doesn’t steer well and won’t go on the bit. He’s difficult in a good way, and he always does the right thing.”

The duo’s shared inner competitive drive was on full display throughout the month-long 2023 Summer Series at Spruce Meadows, earning their first 5* grand-prix starts and ribbon finishes. In the first week, they jumped the 2* division jumping clear rounds over the 1.40m with two time faults in the 1.45m. “I withdrew from the 2* Grand Prix that first week due to the poor air quality (from the fires) to protect Cloud’s health and welfare, but rode during the rainstorms during the second week,” Hannah muses. “Having the opportunity to jump in these stormy weather conditions gave me so much confidence in the horse who remained brave and powerful. I didn’t realize at the time that competing in these conditions would be useful for my confidence in what was to come in the weeks ahead. I actually moved up into the 5* that week, placing fourth in the 1.50m.”

Growing Trust

As the jumps got higher, the mutual trust between Cloud 39 and Hannah grew deeper. They rode double clear with a fifth-place finish in the 1.55m 5* Jayman Built Cup, far exceeding their expectations. “And with that result, Mario said to me, ‘I think you have to jump the Queen’s Cup. Get the experience while you have it, and don’t worry about the result,’” Hannah explains.

To compete in the $1 Million 1.60m ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup at one of the biggest venues in the world was a pivotal experience for Hannah. Laying down two solid rounds with four faults each earned the pair an 11th-place finish. Her quick climb and placing in one of the biggest grands prix in the world was quite unique. “It was a dream just to be out there. And something I had maybe written off, thinking I might not get the opportunity on a horse capable of this level,” reflects Hannah. “Walking in for the prize-giving ceremony with Cloud in his cooler for this class was incredible. I would never have guessed it if someone had told me before how the end of the circuit would go,” Hannah says, her voice filled with excitement.

ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup 1.60m 5* Spruce Meadow’s North American Tournament 

The partnership of Hannah and Cloud 39 has gained attention and admiration from her peers in the equestrian arena and beyond and generated accolades on social media. “Can’t wait to see what happens next on your journey. Keep riding and aiming high,” writes one person. “It is so beautiful to watch you gracefully jump with such power, courage, and authority,” notes another.

One thing that remains consistent is Hannah’s positive attitude and composure. For every challenge thrust at her, she finds a solution.

So, for the foreseeable future, Hannah will be forgoing patent heels and skewing towards breeches and tall boots with horses at her side. “There is nothing more present than those moments in the show ring. Everything else in the mind is quiet, and it’s all about each jump right in front of you,” Hannah shares. “Finally, I’m starting to hit my stride.”

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