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A Novel Idea for a Racehorse

Hannah with Cat at Mason City IowaWho knows, maybe someday this particular thoroughbred will appear in a best-selling novel, assigned perhaps to literary flashbacks or streams of consciousness when the world was just starting to emerge in the young writer’s imagination.

There might be scenes in which she directs the anxious horse through the next jump, reveling in the adrenaline rush coursing through her as the animal gathers itself at the approaching hurdle… and then the satisfaction of accomplishment that settles in after each attempt.

Ahhh, how good it feels to ride this wave of power, execution and athleticism over hurdle after hurdle.

Welcome to Hannah Page’s world as a teenager on a thoroughbred out of the Troy Bethke barn that she helped adjust to its new life as a jumper.

A Blake High School graduate, Hannah is a junior-to-be at Columbia University studying creative writing, a passion equaled perhaps only by her love of horses and jumping, a love now on hold as she devotes herself to the lessons that will illuminate the way to writing those novels aching to emerge.

Hannah and her mother, Roberta Brackman, are long-time friends of Canterbury Park veterinarians Kathy Ott, from whom she bought the horse, and Lynn Hovda.

“We bought the horse from Kathy,” Roberta said. “Hannah was twelve-ish at the time. She wanted a horse to use as a jumper.” The horse was there at Canterbury Park and would soon be known as “Cat.”

“Cat was loving and terrific,” Roberta said. “She had high energy which make her perfect for my daughter and jumping. I joke around that she could only turn left (from her years on the racetrack) but that wasn’t true. She loved jumping. She loved her job.”

And Hannah loved Cat.

“She was a handful at times,” Hannah recalled. “But I really loved her. She had a big personality. I like that she had a personality.”

Jumping levels range from 1-to-10, from beginner levels all the way up to Olympic levels, 10. Cat achieved a level five, jumping and competing at local shows. “I don’t think she would have done well in the higher jumps. She was a little too quick,” Hannah recalled.

It is likely that Cat never completely shed her training at the track. “She could be a handful at the gate,” Hannah said. “She got very excited when the buzzer went off. I had to be careful not to get her to the ring too early or she’d start to prance.”

Nonetheless, Cat proved perfect for Hannah’s age and level at the time.

“She was a great jumper but she’d flatten out if we got going too fast or if the jumps were too high,” Hannah recalled.

Although Cat was Hannah’s first serious competitive jumper, she did some jumping when she was younger with a pony she had.

“I think she was a Welsh mountain pony,” Hannah said. “Her name was Erica but her show name was Calendar Girl. I can’t believe I gave her that name.”

Nonetheless, Calendar Girl was a part of her life, just as Cat was and just as another horse will be at some later date. Cat was turned out for a couple of years after Hannah outgrew her and eventually found a new home with a young girl in Texas.

Hannah had a good cry with Cat when they said good bye and then took solace in the knowledge that the horse was going to a better place. “The little girl who got her sent me pictures,” Hannah said. “They looked very happy together. I was happy that she had found a good home.”

As for Hannah, she intended to become an equine veterinarian originally but switched gears and intentions after falling in love with Columbia University and discovering that the school didn’t have the pre-veterinarian courses she needed. The change in majors wasn’t difficult.

“I’ve always had a talent for writing,” she said. “I really have a passion for it. I want to write novels.”

It’s a good guess that if those stories include any horse scenes, they will also include a horse named Cat, and, who knows, maybe even one named Calendar Girl.

This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.