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Assistant Trainer Spotlight – Natalie Hahn of Miller Quarter Horses

Next up in our assistant trainer spotlight series is Natalie Hahn who works for Miller Quarter Horses. Let's find out more about her background and goals.

Originally from Newport, Pennsylvania, Miller Quarter Horses Assistant Trainer Natalie Hahn currently lives in Reidsville North Carolina, where she helps trainer Keith Miller in developing and training hunter under saddle horses.

Hahn went to college at Penn State where she received her bachelor’s degree in immunology and infectious disease. Natalie got involved with horses through her aunt who taught dressage lessons at a Friesian barn.

“Falling off of those big horses set me up well to deal with hunt seaters,” Hahn says. “I was never a horse crazy kid, but after my first lesson at 12, I was hooked.”


Hahn started showing thoroughbreds when she was 15 in the dressage but stumbled into AQHA shows because there happened to be some hunt seaters at a barn she was boarding her horse at. 

“Everything kind of fell into place for me to learn how to ride them, and my very first AQHA show was in 2019,” Hahn recalls.

GoHorseShow sat down with Natalie to find out more about her background and future goals.

GoHorseShow: Hi Natalie. Can you tell us what you like about showing horses?
Hahn: I like getting opinions from a third party about how a horse looks. This is a person who has little to no idea of how this horse was training up prior to seeing them in the show pen. You also get to directly compare them to other horses around their age and ability. I like being around so many trainers, it’s interesting to look around and see how some people do things. I love learning and trying new things I’ve seen at home. What I like most about horses is that, whether it’s related to their health, diet, riding, behavior or otherwise, there’s always more to learn. There’s a seemingly endless amount of information about them and I find it so interesting.


GoHorseShow: Can you tell us about some of your favorite accomplishments in the show pen?
Hahn: Almost all of my experience showing has been in dressage, save this past year and a short stent in 2019. I would have to say in 2017, when I competed with my horse at Dressage Nationals at Lamplight. I had finally figured him out enough to have a pleasant show experience. I used to be an incredibly nervous showman which I’m sure my horse at the time picked up on. He was always unpredictable at shows…to the point where I was once thanked by a judge for not falling off during my test. I didn’t have a trainer taking me to shows, so I had to figure things out on my own. That was the first time I felt like I’d figured him out, and got a glimpse into how important horse psychology is in training and competing. So, not necessarily an accolade but a moment where I felt a major click, though I will say winning a Novice Amateur class at Congress in 2019 is a close second.

GoHorseShow: Why did you switch from showing dressage to our hunt seat classes?
Honestly, it was an accessibility thing at the time, and once I started riding the Quarters, I just really enjoyed it. I would go back to dressage too but I think the Quarter shows are more laid back and fun, so I definitely enjoy them more. There’s less differences than you’d think. So much of dressage applies to the hunt seat stuff when it comes to hind end/back engagement and acceptance of the bridle. Dressage is challenging in different ways though because of having to do all the different movements instead of just three gaits like in the hunter under saddle. I love both but the hunt seat is freer and more fun to ride I think.

GoHorseShow: Can you tell us about some of the horses you have worked with?
Hahn: Prior to working for Keith and Sydney, I’ve had little experience with great horses. While I take no credit for their training as they were well known before I sat on them, some of my favorites to ride and school at the farm are Im Willy Good Today, RS HankWhyDoYaDrank, and Boy Oh Boy.

GoHorseShow: Who are some of your biggest mentors?
Hahn: Andrea Velas, who was my childhood dressage instructor. She ingrained in me the importance of correct rider position. She was unrelenting about it in the best way possible. Sometimes, especially when I’m on the young ones, I can hear her in the middle of the arena telling me my hands aren’t even and that I’m leaning forward. Keith has also been a huge mentor for me. I really appreciate that I don’t just learn training from him, but also the business and horsemanship side as well. I have learned so much in the time that I have worked at MQH.

GoHorseShow: Any advice for other young trainers?
Hahn: Take every opportunity you have to learn. Don’t limit yourself to one discipline, as you can take something from every new experience you have. Write things down, as someone with a horrible memory, doing this could have saved me from learning so many lessons over and over again. Notes can be incredibly helpful when dealing with things like reoccurring issues in training, or even health aspects. If you’re stuck, just ask for help, we have all been, and sometimes continue to be, there. Also, start taking your joint supplements now.


GoHorseShow: Any favorite memories that stick out from showing?
Hahn: No specific favorite memories come to mind, but my favorite thing about the industry is some of the friendships I have as a direct result of it. Some of my longest and closest friendships have come from the horse world and I couldn’t imagine life without them. Something about riding in the middle of the night on little to no sleep must really bring people together.

GoHorseShow: How did you get the opportunity to work for Keith?
Hahn: I knew about the second year into college that all I really wanted to do was train horses, so immediately after graduating, I reached out to a few people asking about positions. One friend connected me with Sydney and all of the pieces fell perfectly into place. I really like that they’re both very hands on and knowledgeable. It’s helpful to get training tips and riding ideas from two people instead of just one. I also like how happy all of the horses are. They genuinely care about the animals’ well being. If one is having an issue or a new behavior has popped up, it’s addressed immediately.

GoHorseShow: What’s one thing people may not know about you?
Hahn: I do stained glass, which is my one hobby other than horses. I’m a pretty boring 24 year old, I’m either riding or doing glass. I taught myself how to do it a few years ago and it’s the one thing other than horses that I’ve stuck with. One of my favorite pieces I’ve done so far is based off that Frederic Remington statue, Bronco Buster.

GoHorseShow: What’s one thing you’d like to see change in the industry?
Hahn: I’m not sure if this qualifies as an industry thing or not, but I would like to see better sportsmanship about losing. Whether it be some animosity towards the person who placed above you, the judge, or even the horse. Take not doing well as a chance to hone in on what needs to be improved, and also know that sometimes things don’t go your way, even when they should. Always try to take something from disappointment and figure out if there’s anything to work on.

GoHorseShow: What are some of your future goals?
Hahn: I would love to start showing some more this year and would really like to start showing in futurity classes.

GoHorseShow: Thanks Natalie! We wish you the best of luck with your future endeavors.

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