JN Exclusive: Olympic Fire and Jennifer Hannan Snuffed Out Competition at CP National

Ollie showing off his impressive effort over fences. Photo by Shawn McMillen photography

It’s not often you see horses stepping out of the Jumper ring and into the Hunters, but Jennifer Hannan has helped Olympic Fire make the ever-successful transition. The pair recently claimed the win in the High Performance Hunter Stakes at the legendary CP National Horse Show and gained quite a bit of popularity in the industry for their elegantly ridden round. JN caught up with Jennifer to hear how this handy horse made the discipline switch and what her career has in store for her next.

Ambition Abounds

Jennifer Hannan grew up with horses playing a big part in her life. The daughter of Bill and Nannette Hannan, owner/operators of Ocean Echo Farm in Wakefield, Rhode Island, Jennifer first began riding at just three years old. From that moment on, she was enamored and found herself overwhelmed with ambition. Jennifer began her competitive career under the tutelage of Amy Eidson and eventually moved up to competing in the Jumpers and Equitation with Missy Clark.

Even as a young girl, Jennifer was bringing home blues! Photo provided by Jennifer Hannan

“You know, as a kid I didn’t do much in the Hunters,” Jennifer shared with JN. “I focused on the Jumpers and Equitation as a Junior.” That focus proved to be a smart decision for Jennifer, who took home many accolades such as the Young Rider Team Gold and Ronnie Mutch Equitation Championship at Devon.

But as she neared her 18th birthday, Jennifer knew she wanted to take her passion for the industry to the next level. When Eddie Horowitz offered her a job straight out of her Junior career, she accepted and began developing herself as a young professional.

“Eddie was a great teacher and he imported huge numbers of horses each year so I had the opportunity to learn a lot from many different horses,” said Jennifer as she reflected on the beginning stages of her career. While in her mid-twenties, Jennifer decided to step out on her own and establish herself in the industry, returning home to Ocean Echo Farm

Ocean Echo Farm- A Family Affair

The Ocean Echo Farm team splits their time between their beautiful Rhode Island homestead and their bustling winter location in Wellington,  traveling to show at some of the most prestigious events in the industry. The barn stays on the smaller side, with around 15-20 horses at any time during the year. “We have such a family atmosphere,” Jennifer shared. “I like to think of us as a boutique barn. We are on the smaller side but it is very client focused.”

“Going on my own was pretty scary,” Jennifer said with a laugh. “There were definitely times when I asked, ‘what have I gotten myself into?’” With intense determination and a strong sense of what she wanted for herself and her barn, she worked on rounding herself out as a professional by securing placings in classes that set the bar for Ocean Echo Farm. Some of those accolades include Champion on As Always at Devon, Harrisburg, and Capitol Challenge; Champion on Best Regards at Capitol Challenge, Harrisburg, WEF, and the Hamptons; and Reserve Champion and Leading Lady Rider on Flamingo K at Devon.

As Jennifer worked her way up, she continued to acquire horses, staff, and clients that would help her grow as a professional. The first of those career-influencing clients were Roger and Jennifer Smith. Ten years later, they remain loyal clients of Jennifer’s and bring many exciting horses into the barn. It was around four years ago that Roger imported Olympic Fire to the states as a Jumper mount for himself, but as they went on they realized they had a different calling in life.

Around the barn, Olympic Fire is always looking for a treat. Photo by Jennifer Hannan

On Fire with Olympic Fire

“Ollie seemed to want to go in a different direction,” said Jennifer. “We actually thought we would sell him, so we tried him in the Equitation and the Hunters, at which he seemed to excel.” So Jennifer Hannan and Jennifer Smith took over the reins and began Ollie’s official transition to the Hunter ring — which Ollie took on with ease. “He knows his job, he doesn’t have to do a lot. When he goes to shows, he goes to win. He always gives a huge effort and is super careful.”

Olympic Fire was already having quite a successful year with Jennifer Hannan, taking home Reserve Champions at both the Hampton’s and Capitol Challenge. Shortly before their departure for the CP National Horse Show, Roger Smith  made a decision that would forever impact Jennifer’s life- he gifted the talented horse to her. Which would make their rounds at the National their debut as horse and owner.

Jennifer Hannan and Olympic Fire

Jennifer Hannan and Olympic Fire are the winner's of the High Performance Hunter Stake this morning at the National Horse Show!

Posted by EQSportsNet on Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Despite a hiccup during their first day in the handy at Lexington, Jennifer was eager to see what he would bring to the table during the High Performance Hunter Stakes. “I knew I needed to go in and establish a good gallop to lay down a good course,” she said reflecting on their class. “The more he galloped, the higher he jumped.” The pair’s excellent work ethic and partnership paid off with a flawless round that sealed their win and added a wonderful accolade to their career together.

Moving Forward

The Ocean Echo team is enjoying the warm Wellington weather for the winter and Jennifer intends on letting Ollie take things easy throughout the circuit. “He won’t do too much this season,” she shared. “We will do some Derbies and maybe do a week or two during the circuit, but my main focus is to get him geared up towards Devon and to qualify him for Derby Finals!”

Each and every day, Jennifer is reminded of how many people must come together to make this passion of hers a reality. “I just have to extend a thank you to my team Colin Syquia and Katie Strandberg and of course to all of my clients. We have such a wonderful group and I am always thankful for them.”

And of course, Jennifer is thankful for her new partnership with Olympic Fire and eager to see what the future has in store for them. “If I had to say a horse was a perfect match for me, it would be him.”

Olympic Fire with his Ocean Echo Family. Photo by Shawn McMillen photography