Friday Flicks: Tom & Hannah Selleck

Did you know that Tom Selleck is a horse lover on and off set, and that his daughter Hannah is a Grand Prix show jumper? Film critic Amanda Ronan gets the scoop.

Top photo:

From Amanda:

Tom Selleck admits that he “grew up on Westerns” despite the fact that his only experience with equines of any kind was a childhood pony ride. “I remember being strapped in and bounced around as the pony went around in circles,” he told Christie Craig during her interview Tom Selleck: The Spirit of a Cowboy.

His first substantial western role came on the 1979 TV series The Sacketts.


Tom credits Donna Hall and Jay Fishburn for teaching him the basics of horse riding.

“She would say, ‘First you’ve got to learn how to get on, get off, start and stop and look like you know what you’re doing. Because that is what you’ll mostly be doing on camera.’ I didn’t realize it at the time but what she was really teaching me was good horsemanship.”

Tom went on to star in several more westerns, but by far his most iconic western role is sharpshooter Matthew Quigley from Quigley Down Under (1990).


It was on the set of Quigley that Selleck would meet his lifelong friend, Spike, an American Quarter Horse.

“The horse didn’t have movie experience, but there was something about him. First of all he fit me. Being as tall as I am, I have to have a 16-hand, or at least a 15 and 3/4-hand horse or, my
feet dangle, and it just doesn’t work. But it wasn’t just about size. There seemed to be a sense of respect between us. I knew almost immediately that I wanted that horse,” states Selleck.

After filming concluded, Spike’s owners gifted him to Tom. The horse, now well into his 20s, still lives at Selleck’s California home and even starred for a second time as Tom’s mount in The Last Stand at Saber River in 1997. The National Cowboy Hall of Fame recognized Selleck with the “Wrangler” award for his work in the TNT series. Rudy Ugland, horse wrangler for the movie, was quoted saying, “Mr. Selleck is a good horseman, and if he wasn’t an actor, he’d probably be a cowboy.”

Tom Selleck passed on his love for horses to his daughter Hannah.


Hannah, now 24 and a professional rider, told Sidelines Magazine, “My best horse memory probably has to be the first time my dad ever came to watch me ride. I was four years old and taking lessons on a tiny black Shetland Pony named Sheba who was bratty, as ponies can be. She knew just how to throw me off – she jerked her head down and I went flying off rolling over her neck. I got back on and she did it again. I fell off twice in a row in a matter of five minutes,” Hannah said. “My dad didn’t interfere and just let me get back on and try again because that is what I wanted. He has always been very supportive of my riding and so has my mom. My mom is amazing; she comes to nearly every show and is always at the ring video taping my rounds. I wouldn’t be where I am today without all their love and support.”


Hannah in an ad for Allon Equestrian.

Hannah has trained with Karen Healey of California since she was 16, occasionally seeking out training from Leslie Howard and Ian Miller as well. Hannah racked up equestrian accolades throughout her teen years, including winning team and individual gold medals in the 2008 North American Junior & Young Rider Championships, being named champion of the 2009 Talent Search Medal Finals, and being reserve champion at the 2008 USEF National Hunt Seat Medal Finals. In 2010 she won the $35,000 Blenheim Summer Classic II Grand Prix.

After graduating college, Hannah took on the job of assistant to Karen. She continues to set her competitive sights higher and higher and has even started her own breeding program.

Video: A beautiful round by Hannah and her Belgian Warmblood gelding Bauer in the 1.45m $32,000 Westjet Cup at the Spruce Meadows Canada One in 2012.

Like father… like daughter. Go Riding!

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