#RideForHannah: The Tragic Reason Behind the Viral Hashtag

Elizabeth Randolph - Author

May 3 2023, Published 1:03 p.m. ET

While many kids grow up sharing with their loved ones what they want to be when they’re older, 15-year-old equestrian Hannah Serfass was well on her way to making her dreams come true. The teen horse lover competed in various shows and became a beloved member of the equestrian community.

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However, in April 2023, tragedy struck Hannah and her family. The accident ended her promising career and devastated her loved ones.

Keep reading to see what happened and why #RideForHannah exists.

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#RideForHannah: What happened to Hannah Serfass?

On Sunday, April 30, 2023, Hannah died during one of her equestrian competitions. The Miami Herald stated that the tragic event occurred at Fox Lea Farm in Venice, Fla.

Hannah and her horse usually competed in hunter/jumper events and went over fences. However, they were halfway through an equitation class when the horse unexpectedly “planted its left front hoof, causing the horse to lean down towards its left front hoof,” according to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office. Hannah took a “rotational fall” in front of the horse. The horse also suffered a rotational fall and landed on Hannah, immediately sending her to the hospital with severe injuries. Hannah didn’t survive the fall and died later. The horse wasn't injured during the accident.

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Hannah and her horse weren't jumping at the time of the accident. Reports haven’t been shared if Hannah wore a helmet while riding. However, the competition was recognized by the USEF (U.S. Equestrian Federation), and the USEF has required all riders to wear a helmet while mounted on the competition grounds since 2012. But due to the horse’s weight, Hannah likely would’ve succumbed to her injuries with or without a helmet.

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Following Hannah’s death, the rising equestrian received multiple condolences from other riders and those who followed her career. Soon, the hashtag #RideForHannah scattered across social media, bringing more awareness to Hannah’s incident on platforms like Instagram.

In May 2023, Allison Moynihan, a fellow equestrian community member, introduced the hashtag to her followers and shared its importance.

“As many of you have heard, our fellow equestrian Hannah Serfass tragically lost her life on April 30th while competing,” Allison said on Instagram under a photo of Hannah. “ On behalf of her parents and trainer, Robin Swinderman Mitchell, we would like to show our love and support for Hannah and her passion for horses by tagging #rideforhannah on social media.”

“We hope to give some support to her family and friends during this extremely difficult time, so let’s come together as a community and show our love for Hannah,” the post continued.

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Hannah Sefrass’s parents said the 15-year-old “died doing the thing she absolutely loved.”

Several days after the hashtag #rideforhannah surfaced, a fellow equestrian, Kate Egan, created a GoFundMe page to honor Hannah. The GoFundMe quickly exceeded its $10,000 goal for Hannah to have a memorial at one of her favorite places — World Equestrian Center-Ocala in Florida.

The WEC-Ocala memorial will coincide with a smaller tribute to Hannah with her personal loved ones.

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The outpouring of support from the equestrian community is something Hannah’s parents, Janine and David Serfass, didn’t see coming initially. After reflecting on their daughter’s short but impactful life, they expressed gratitude for the community.

“Our daughter died doing the thing she absolutely loved the most in this world,” they said, per The Chronicle of the Horse. “If from this tragedy, one person can be saved and find God. Then her death will not be in vain.”

“We are deeply touched by all of the love and prayers everyone has sent us during this very difficult time,” they continued. “It means the world to us to every person who has taken the time to reach out or post something in Hannah’s honor. We cherish seeing the #rideforhannah campaign and those chosen to dress in her favorite color, azure blue. We thank you again from the bottom of our hearts! God Bless.”

To donate to Hannah’s GoFundMe, click the link here.

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