Larry Hannum’s only child, Kara Hannum Lewis, gets misty-eyed talking about the impact her father had on his community. 

Hannum, owner of Larry’s Stables Inc. in Franklin Township, died on April 29 at the age of 78. 

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Larry’s Stables is one of the largest riding stables in Northeast Ohio, according to his daughter. Hannum’s experience and compassionate care for the animals at his stables earned him significant respect in the equestrian community, she said. On May 11, The Ohio Quarter Horse Association ran Hannum’s obituary on their website. 

In celebration of the man Lewis describes as an “icon in the Northeast Ohio horse industry and beyond,” she held a memorial at Larry’s Stables on June 3, the day that would have marked the beginning of her father’s 79th year. Roughly 200 people attended.

Speaking to the assembled crowd on that bright Friday afternoon, Lewis related with heartfelt fondness stories of growing up at the stables, and her children’s experiences with her father. She spoke earnestly about her father’s impact on her life, attributing her successes to what she learned at her father’s stables. 

In closing, she turned to Hannum’s effect on the people around him. 

“I can only hope to have a fraction of the impact that he’s had with the youth, and people who he helped mold through his love of horses,” Lewis said. “I just hope he knows what an impact he’s had.” I will forever be Larry’s daughter, and I will be so proud of that, and I hope that my kids and I make him proud every day for the rest of our lives.”

In 1958, the then-15-year-old Hannum turned the family farm located on Johnson Road into a stable, a drastic shift in purpose from the land’s former use as a celery farm. For 63 years he offered a myriad of services and activities at the stables bearing his name. 

“He obviously boarded horses,” Lewis said, “he did trail riding for a lot of years — which meant you could come rent a horse for an hour and go ride out in the fields. And then he offered lessons; he offered birthday parties. We had plenty of birthday parties where we’d turn a horse into a unicorn or something.”

Ranch Camp is an annual event at Larry’s Stables taking place over the course of two separate weeks in the summer.

It’s still on for this year, scheduled for June 20 through 24; and July 18 through 22. 

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Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon, attendees — children and teens aged 5 to15 — spend half of their time in the fenced-in riding arena learning about horses. Grooming them, proper safety etiquette, how to saddle horses, and how to ride are all part of the curriculum. The other half of the day is spent doing Western themed crafts such as stamping leather. 

The Hannum Fun Show became another annual staple on Hannum’s ranch.

Participants in 4-H were required to be 9-years-old on Jan. 1, but Lewis’s birthday is on Jan. 14. She wasn’t old enough to participate during her first year of eligibility.

“I was so upset that I couldn’t show that summer,” Lewis said. So her father created his own event.

“He basically had a show with judges and ribbons right here,” said Lewis.

The Hannum Fun Show will be taking place this year on June 26. It’s open to current and past boarders. Members of a 4-H club called Trailblazers, that used to be based in Ohio, are welcome as well. A concession stand will be operating during the show, with proceeds going to maintenance costs for the stables. 

Over six decades of running Larry’s Stables, Hannum touched countless lives. Lewis received an outpouring of gratitude and remembrance from those attending the  memorial, some from people whom she didn’t know. At the memorial, people left cards detailing the ways in which Hannum had impacted them. 

“There was this card that was like, ‘My daughter was in a really dark place, and he gave her a chance to be out here.’ It just was a lot of people’s safe place,” said Lewis.

The obituary Lewis penned  for her father paints the picture of man in love with the mythos of the Old West, a cowboy and a horseman — but also present is a man to whom teaching was second nature. 

Christina Mitchell, a boarder at Larry’s Stables, grew up attending Stow City Schools. Hannum was a sixth grade teacher in the district for 30 years, and Mitchell remembers him from school, but speaks fondly about his riding tutelage. 

Mitchell came to the stables for the first time at 9 years old. Hannum taught her how to canter when she was scared of attempting the maneuver. Now Mitchell’s daughter, Gabriella, comes to the stables to ride. 

Hannum was more than just a babysitter for the kids showing up at his stables. 

“He taught them,” said Mitchell, “from cleaning the stalls, to cleaning your buckets, brushing horses — he would teach you from the basics up.”

Hannum taught people that being an equestrian is a lifestyle, and he had kind, encouraging words for those he took under his wing. 

“He was a super person,” said Cindy Sitko, a boarder at the stables and friend of the family. “He was the person that inspired me to stay with horses, and how important they were to your well being. I felt that Larry was better than a psychologist because of the well being of being on a horse.”

Another boarder, Jeanne Adair, testified to Hannum’s generosity. Since she was 12, Adair has known Hannum. Without him, she said, she never would have been able to buy a horse. 

“Larry sold me Sinjon for my income tax check,” Mitchell said, a sum of $150.00. 

For the time being, Lewis said, nothing is changing. Her children will be the fifth generation to own the farm, and she’s not interested in selling. However, she does have a full-time job and four kids, so running the stables herself isn’t in the cards. 

“If it can operate in a profitable way, there’s no reason I would stop that,” she said. There are options that she’s exploring, like taking on a barn manager, to keep things running.

Lewis speaks repeatedly about her father’s wide-ranging influence on so many generations, calling it a “ripple effect.”

“My dad was always, like, for the underdog, giving people a chance,” Lewis said. “There were some times people couldn’t even afford to have a horse, and he would sort of let them lease a horse, or use a horse. So I would get on him because I was more of a business person, like, you can’t just pay for everyone’s horse hobby. But I think he knew it was more than just a horse hobby.”

Contact reporter Derek Kreider at [email protected]

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