Before she ran the two fastest times in Fort Smith history, Smooth Way Ta Heaven was a spicy filly that two friends believed could make something. Kristin Hanchey graciously shared her time with Barrel Horse News to talk about the special mare known as “Mouse” owned by her friend Tracey Williams.
Read all about Kristin’s Old Fort Days Super Derby win in the July 2022 issue of Barrel Horse News. Copies are available here July 1.
Interview by Blanche Schaefer
Barrel Horse News: You have a pretty special relationship with Mouse’s owner, Tracey Williams.
Kristin Hanchey: “So, a lot of people assume that Tracey is just a client of mine who owns a horse that I ride. But long before Tracey and I ever knew about a horse named Mouse, Tracey and I became friends because our daughters grew up running barrels together. I’ve rode a couple of different horses for her, and Mouse is really the product of two friends who had faith in a path that God put in front of them.”
BHN: What’s your friendship like with Tracey as trainer-client?
Kristin: “It’s funny, because she doesn’t run barrels and she doesn’t ride. She grew up playing softball. Tracey is one of those women who is so genuinely happy to see her friends win. The first time I ever saw Tracey was in Fort Smith with Margo Crowther, when Margo won the Derby on ‘Sissy’ [Shes Packin Fame]. And oh, the tears of joy I saw her cry for her friend. That’s an amazing woman who can be so genuinely excited and happy for her friend, and now I get to have that joy of being the jockey to her horse and her being able to win. She’s a Godsend.”
BHN: When did Mouse come into the picture?
Kristin: “In the very beginning, my dad Bob Haberlandt started Mouse as a 2-year-old. It was funny because he actually told Tracey to sell her, because she was gonna be a trainer’s horse. You needed to keep your thumb on her to keep this mare made, because she’s pretty saucy. So Tracey calls me one day and says, ‘So, are we going to be hard headed and not listen to Dad?’ And I said, ‘I mean, I’ve done it before in my life, I can do it again!’ She really didn’t want to get rid of her. And I was game; let’s go on with her. From the very beginning, that mare has always loved her job. That’s one thing my dad always told me. He said, ‘Kristin Kay, you make sure that mare always loves her job, because she will give you her heart if she loves her job.’ From when we started running in her in the beginning of her futurity year until now, as long as she’s healthy and she’s feeling good, that mare when she crosses the timer line, she gives her heart every time she goes in that arena. It’s very, very unique to have a horse that literally lays it all on the line every time they run down that alley.”
BHN: As a trainer, how did you follow Dad’s advice and keep her loving her job, keep that passion in her?
Kristin: “My husband, Jason Hanchey, he ropes and trains a pile of calf horses. He’s trained a couple NFR-qualifying calf horses. When we first started with her and she would get that saucy attitude, I’d say, ‘Can you hook up to the trailer and haul Mouse to the ranch and rope on her or go work cows?’ Anytime we started feeling, and I can’t ever say things were coming unraveled, but if I started feeling her get a little too big for her britches, Jason would take her to the ranch. Consequently, Mouse’s favorite person on the planet is my husband. I always say if Mouse were a woman, she and I would have problems! She absolutely loves my husband. That is her man. I think she does what she does for me because she has to make sure she can stay in that barn, because her boyfriend lives next door.”
BHN: That’s got to be helpful to have him as a resource along with your parents.
Kristin: “My husband’s done a lot. My mom (Tracy Haberlandt) and dad, they’re extremely intuitive when it comes to these colts. My father does not cut me any slack. I can go out there and win a rodeo or a futurity and he’s gonna give me something to work on. My dad keeps me in line pretty dang good. I can’t ever say it’s just me with her. I have been so fortunate and blessed with the people who have been put in my life, not just with this horse, but I’ve had the pleasure of riding some amazing horses through my years. She is gonna be one of those at the top.”
BHN: Tell me about what all goes into keeping Mouse performing at the top.
Kristin: “When it comes to saddles, I ride in a Martin BTR thanks to a recommendation from Jolene Montgomery. I ride in a CSI pad. Mouse gets polo wraps just on her front legs, because she doesn’t run if I wrap her back legs. She gets Purina Ultium and alfalfa hay. Supplement-wise, she’s only on Race Today by Vetline and Equinety. Dr. Nate Lea, DVM, with Outlaw Equine in Okeechobee has helped me keep her feeling good with vet work. A really good friend of mine, Joanna Sherman, she’s a chiropractor and she’s an angel. She’s one of my prayer warriors. We’ll get her work done on Mouse and then of course, she lays me on a hay bale and pops me around too. I ride Mouse every day; she might get a day off here and there. She gets rode pretty much every day, because if not, she gets tight. And, if you stall her up too long, she likes to buck every now and then, so you got to keep all that ironed out.”