Total Earnings: $4,429,007
Phil Hanson’s dad, Phil Sr., was a performance horse trainer so he grew up riding and being involved in the industry. As a kid he had summer jobs building houses and later pursued a degree in Architectural Drafting and Design from Phoenix Institute of Technology. The housing market wasn’t doing well when he graduated so after having no luck finding a job, he turned to training horses.
It was meant to be, with Hanson having gone on to win all of the Triple Crown events and more. In the beginning, when his cutting horse training business was getting off the ground, he would work horses and then draft house designs.
Hanson never worked for a cutting horse trainer. Every time he came to Texas, he sat in the practice pen and soaked up as much as could watching and talking to other trainers.
Hanson owns his own training facility in Weatherford, Texas and works alongside his son Jake. They are accepting outside horses.
What is your training philosophy?
“They’ve got to be a cow horse. The horse has got to be attached to the cow. The rest of it takes care of itself. You try to have what style you can in those horses. Some horses will develop a specific style. Others may not have the exact style you would like but you just have to make them the best horses they can be. Other than that, I like them to be very comfortable and confident. [When] I say comfortable I mean comfortable on the cow. Where their position is at and they know that position is where they’ve got to be all the time.”
“My goal is that the horse will cut whether I make a mistake or not. I don’t want to be responsible for the horse’s job. My job is to get the cow cut and step on the gas pedal or not.”
What’s your most memorable moment in the sport?
“When I won the Super Stakes and my son also made the finals. We were both in there competing.”
Hanson won the 2019 Super Stakes Open Derby riding Hiss N Vinegar after marking a 227. His son, Jake Hanson, rode Haldou Do in the finals.
What inspires you?
“I don’t go as hard at it as I used to. What keeps me going and wanting to train a good horse is the results. There’s not many people that can say they’ve won all three of the triple crown events and almost won one of them twice.”
“Just being rewarded for your work and people knowing that the horses I have trained are honest, solid, and good cow horses.”
How would you define feel and can you teach feel?
“Feel for a cutting horse is being able to tell when they’re comfortable or uncomfortable. Being able to feel when they’re out of position or [feel] what you need to help them with to put them back in position or to keep them in position. And as far as teaching someone that, it can be done but it takes a lot of time and effort on that rider’s part to really learn that.”
Do you have any interests outside of horses and cutting?
“I have a race car that I go race. I also really enjoy sailing. We are also building another facility…I designed it all and drew it. Through the years we have built four houses and turned them over to sell. I made use of the degree.”