Tom Selleck's Daughter Raising Horses in New Mexico to Avoid California Drought
Rising equestrian star Hannah Selleck will be competing at the Longines Masters of Los Angeles this weekend and tells THR she's started a breeding business with her father.
A version of this story first appeared in the Oct. 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Tom Selleck's daughter, Hannah Selleck, is a rising equestrian star who will compete in the Longines Masters of Los Angeles (Oct. 1-4) at the L.A. Convention Center. The 26-year-old tells THR that she's building a side business with her dad by breeding her own stable.
However, the youngest few of her seven horses can't live in Hidden Valley, where the boutique operation is based, because of the California drought. "It was more cost-efficient to send them to New Mexico for a couple of years because there's not anywhere with big, big pastures of grass around here," she says. "When they are really young, they need to live in a field for a couple of years and grow."
The update comes on the heels of Tom Selleck's $21,000 settlement with a California water district over an allegation that someone improperly took water from another district and brought it to the actor's Hidden Valley ranch.
Water aside, Hannah talked to THR about all things equestrian, what it means to her to have such a prestigious event like the Longines Masters in her hometown and how dressing up as Poison Ivy helped her take home the gold at last year's event. This year, Selleck is one of many notable names competing in the show-jumping event.
I read that you started riding horses at age 4. How long did it take you to figure out that this was something you wanted to pursue seriously?
I started at 4 and my parents just encouraged me to try all different things — dance, ice skating, soccer, lots of things that kids do. Around the time I was 12, I was getting more serious. Then around the age of 14, I was very good at ballet and riding. At that point I had to choose if I wanted to excel at either one. My love was with the horses. That’s when I became very serious about it.
Why did you love it so much? What drew you to the horses?
The connection. I loved being around the animals, and as a kid, taking care of different ponies and hanging out at the barn all day. The whole riding culture. You’re spending so much time one on one caring for the horses, so I fell in love with that. As I progressed in the sport, I fell in love with the competition itself.
When you were young, you devoted your life to the sport. Did you feel like you missed out on anything as a normal teenager?
No, because my parents encouraged me to stay in school and not do the home-schooling route, which many younger riders did. I stayed in school regularly even though I missed quite a bit of class to travel and compete, but I attended school dances and went to prom and I was able to balance it. I am happy about that. Some of my friends that rode missed out on that. A lot of them didn’t stay in the sport, so finding that balance has been important to have longevity in the career for me. I’d go to school and straight to the barn to ride, and that was kind of it. Even when I went to college, I decided to stay close so I could stay with the trainer I was with, so I went to Loyola Marymount University. I would go ride five or six times a week still, and from Marina del Rey to the farm was about an hour and a half. I was always juggling it even through college.
What did you major in?
Was there ever a moment when you thought you might have a career outside of the equestrian world?
When I finished college I thought I might want a career that would support me to ride at a high level as an amateur. I got a job at a public relations firm — as an internship — and I worked there for a bit, maybe six months, in Beverly Hills. That was the first time that I had been away from the horses, and I was miserable. I was only able to ride on the weekends, and that was a huge shock. After that, I realized I have to do the horses, so I quit the PR job. I started working for my coach and later became an assistant trainer. I worked for her for a year and for several other top professionals. Now I’m focusing mainly on my career and my goals competing. And I have a small breeding program in California where I’m developing young horses to bring along and sell. It’s a business that so far has been really great and a great experience.
Tell me more about the breeding program?
My dad encouraged it a lot. He liked the idea of developing the babies and developing young horses, so he was a big supporter of this idea. I had a couple top older grand prix horses that brought me along in my career, and when they weren’t able to do their job anymore, I decided to breed them. Now we have about seven babies ranging from 4-year-olds to ones born this year. We’ll bring those along and either sell them or maybe I will develop them as a top horse for myself. I’m not doing it on a huge scale where I have 40 horses; it’s about 12 horses so it’s a boutique operation based in Hidden Valley. We have some of the really young horses in New Mexico. With the drought in California it’s hard to find grass to let them be turned out on because when they are really young they just need to live in a field for a couple of years and grow. It was more cost-efficient to send them to New Mexico for a couple of years because there’s not anywhere with big, big pastures of grass around here.
Do you spend most of your time in New York?
I spend the winters in Wellington, Florida, because there is a big show there, so I’m there about 12 weeks. I’m there from December to April, and then last year and this year I’ve been based in North Salem, New York. That’s where the horses are, and I commute there every day to the farm from [Manhattan].
Is it hard to be away from your family?
No, I have so many friends in the city. And my dad shoots Blue Bloods in New York, which he commutes back and forth from L.A. to do. I’ll occasionally see him when he’s here. It’s been a nice change. I grew up outside of L.A. and stayed there for school. So now, I’m so lucky to be able to live in the city and have the horses based just outside so I get the best of both worlds where I can train full time and still live in a wonderful place like Manhattan.
For Longines, what events will you be competing in?
I’m competing in the two-star competition on two of my horses. I’ll also be doing the Charity Pro-Am Styling Competition, myself and another rider, she’s from Switzerland, Jane Richard Philips. I competed in the same event last year on a team with another rider and we actually won so it was great. [Selleck dressed as Poison Ivy] It’s really a fun class and everyone is in costume. It’s a great way to get nonprofits and charities involved in the sport which is very important and needs to be done.
Have you picked your costume?
We just picked it. Our theme is going to be Alice in Wonderland and so we have to ride to music and we’re doing the Danny Elfman score from the movie. It should be a lot of fun.
Being that you’re from L.A., what does it mean to you to have such a prestigious event like the Longines Masters in your hometown?
It’s amazing. Growing up showing at different competitions I never thought they’d do a five-star show with the top 30 riders in the world coming here. It’s extraordinary that they are able to bring this to Los Angeles. We have big shows on the East Coast, but it’s great for the West Coast and California to have a top-caliber event like this. It brings up the sport as a whole for the area. It brings a new standard. I hope it stays for a while.
I see that you’ve done some modeling in the past and I’m sure acting was a possibility for you too. Was it hard to turn down that career path?
No. All my time goes into the horses and that’s my focus. If you split your focus, its hard to excel. The modeling I only really did to help out some friends, and I do it for my sponsors. Outside of that, I don’t have time. If it’s something tied to the horses that’s one thing, but between my travel schedule and competing and managing the horses with the breeding operation, it’s a full plate.
What advice did your parents give to you about pursuing a career?
They just wanted me to find something I was passionate about. They wanted me to find my love and pursue that. As a kid they tried to raise me as normally as possible given my dad’s line of work. Those horses have been a great way for me to have my own accomplishments outside of whatever my parents had done. People like to [criticize] and say that you’re able to buy expensive horses and all of that, but when it comes down to it, it’s just you in the ring who has to perform and nobody can do that for you.
It can be a very expensive sport. What can you say about the cost?
It is a very expensive sport, so that is why my dad encouraged and invested in this breeding operation. They have been very supportive. The prices of horses have become astronomical. So that’s why it’s so much more rewarding to bring a horse along on your own.
How much does it cost to buy a horse?
It ranges. It can be anywhere on the lower end, like 100,000 to a few million euros. It’s kind of crazy how high prices have gone.
Tell me about your horses.
One of my horses is named Barla. I’ve had her for four years now and I’ve brought her along since she was 7. She’s my top horse right now — she’ll be doing all the big classes. The other horse is Callway do Cabo. I got him about two weeks ago so he’s a relatively new mount for me. He’s a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to this being my first big show on him. He’s white and quite speedy. He’s very cute. And I actually have a baby from Barla who is 1 year old. We did a surrogate with her and had a baby. She has to compete so she wasn’t carrying it. We do have a baby from her, so that’s fun.