WEIRTON - Charlene Hanna always liked horses, and equestrian shows were always one of her favorite hobbies.
However, it was not until she retired from Hancock County Schools after 32 years of service that she finally lived her lifetime dream and became an accomplished rider.
In only two years, Hanna became the 2011 Tri State Quarter Horse Association Circuit Champion in Amateur Select Horsemanship, the 2012 American Quarter Horse Association Justin Rookie of the Year for West Virginia, exhibitor at the AQHA Congress in Columbus, Ohio and qualified for the AQHA World Show in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Charlene Hanna sits mounted on her show horse Chips Home Alone “Goose” as they compete together at a quarter horse show.
"I always loved horses," Hanna said. "I had them since I was in my 20's. While I was teaching, I showed in some summer open shows."
Hanna said she always wanted to compete in the national quarter horse shows and decided to really get into the shows in 2011. She joined Post Quarter Horse in Avella, Pa. where she trained in horsemanship, showmanship, halter handling and trail riding.
At Post Quarter Horse, Hanna said she trained with Lori Gordon and Carolyn Colvin with the full support of her husband, Steve.
According to Hanna, quarter horses are the types of horses often used on cattle ranches since she said they generally have good attitudes toward their riders and sound minds in intense situations.
Her current show horse Chips Home Alone Goose is no exception to these characteristics, Hanna said.
"You can trust him," she said. "He takes care of his rider. Even when he's scared, he just stays in one place."
Of the many competitions she participated in, Hanna said the AQHA World Show was the most high-pressure but she noticed even in the competitive atmosphere there were friendly people willing to help.
"It's very intense getting the horse and yourself ready," Hanna said. "But everybody seems to pitch in. If you're nice to people, they're nice to you. The AQHA people are friendly and nice and willing to help each other. They're there to encourage you."
Looking back on all the victories of the 2011-12 year, Hanna said she finds it hard to believe sometimes.
"I wasn't expecting to meet those goals so soon," Hanna said. "It was quite a year, quite a whirlwind."