By Dani Moritz
For 11 year-old Hannah Rohrbach, it’s all about two things – jumping higher and riding faster.
Hannah’s riding career began at age two in the saddle with her dad, Paul Rohrbach, on one of his grand prix jumpers. Growing up at Wells Bridge Farm, a hunter/jumper facility in Parker, Colorado, it’s not hard to understand Hannah’s fascination with horses – specifically with show jumping. “When my dad first put me on a horse, I knew this was my life,” said Hannah.
She says that she was drawn to them in part because of how they make her feel. “The animals are so sweet and it seems like if you just talk to someone and nobody wants to listen to you, you can go talk to the horses,” said Hannah.
Hannah’s mom, Dorothy Rohrbach, said Hannah fell in love with the horses right away. “When she first started taking lessons she was also into gymnastics and she did dance for a little bit, but horses pretty much became her thing really quickly,” said Dorothy. “She always wanted to be down at the barn and taking lessons.”
Hannah also has one sister and two twin brothers, but Dorothy says none of them have the horse bug like Hannah does. Dorothy jokes that her brothers “don’t have any interest in anything that’s not motorized.”
But for Hannah, her love for horses has continued and, nine years later, she is still extremely passionate about riding – so much so that she jokes the barn is practically her home. “That’s kind of where I’m starting to live,” said Hannah. “It’s so much fun.”
Every day after school Hannah rides at least two ponies, takes care of them and then does her homework and chores. Although both of her parents are accomplished riders, Hannah usually rides with her dad’s business partner, Corky Shaha. “It is cool [that my dad is a trainer], just not when he’s screaming at me,” Hannah joked.
Hannah says the pressure is really on, however, to balance schoolwork and barn time. “If I don’t get good grades in school then I don’t get to ride so I try to keep up my grades.”
Currently, Hannah competes in pony hunters in Colorado, but is always looking forward to jumping higher and riding faster on bigger horses. Dorothy says her dedication to get through the levels is admirable. “She’s very focused for someone of her age,” said Dorothy. “Probably in the last two years we’ve really seen her develop so much with her level of determination.”
Hannah says she wants to ride horses instead of ponies so she can jump higher and win more classes, which is what she’s all about. “[I like] showing and doing the classes and going against people,” said Hannah.
At the moment, Hannah rides several ponies, but her favorite is Ultimo DHD – who she is riding for one of her parents’ customers, NTM Enterprises. Ultimo is from Denmark and Hannah was able to travel to Europe to pick him out. Hannah said one of her favorite parts of going to Europe was getting Danish hot dogs at a restaurant. Of course, she also enjoyed picking out Ultimo.
“She went through that entire process with Corky and Paul and our assistant trainers and sort of readjusting him into his new life and teaching him about what he needs to be doing,” said Dorothy.
Ultimo was originally a jumper so Hannah has spent a lot of time reprograming him for the hunter ring (even if her first choice would be the jumpers). What Hannah likes most about her pony is that he can really jump. But it wasn’t love at first sight. Hannah was worried he would be difficult for her because he had so much energy. “I wasn’t too sure what he was going to do if I got on him so that was a little scary for me, but now I love him and I love to ride him,” she said.
Hannah also rides a pony named Ziggy Marley. Hannah describes the pony as green and her mom describes him as a stubborn 12 or 13-year-old who often forgets to go over the jumps instead of going around them. “He’s a very green pony,” said Hannah. “He’s too fast and he spooks a lot.”
But that doesn’t stop Hannah. She’s always determined to do her best, no matter which pony she is riding.