5 Star Champions: Mike and Hannah White

by Lily Landreth

Mike and Hannah White have known each other since freshman year of college. And through their 24 years of marriage thus far, whether it’s raising their two sons, training horses, starting a business, or coming out of the roping box after a steer at the Bob Feist Invitational, the couple from DeKalb, Texas, knows how to work as a team.
Both Mike and Hannah come from rodeo families, and feel very fortunate that they had to train their own horses to compete on. “We were extremely blessed that we got to rodeo and our parents worked hard so we could rodeo. But on the other hand, our family didn’t have money to throw away,” says Mike, who is one of five children. He bought and trained colts, and even took a horse that wouldn’t buck out of his brother Pat’s bucking string and trained it to rope.
Likewise, Hannah has four siblings, and their parents couldn’t afford to buy them all finished rodeo horses. Their grandfather, Jack, who had been a stock contractor on the East Coast and raised quarter horses, along with helping found the Southern Rodeo Association, gave them all the opportunity to train some of his colts. “If we truly made something out of them, he’d sign the papers over to us,” says Hannah. “At the time I hated it because I didn’t understand why my mom and dad couldn’t buy me a finished horse, but now I realize how great that was.”
Mike and Hannah both went on to college rodeo, though neither one considered team roping more than a fun pastime initially. Hannah competed primarily in breakaway and goat tying while pursuing her nursing degree, and Mike rode bulls and went pro. He won PRCA Rookie of the Year in 1997 and competed in the NFR 1997-1999, winning the average and world title in ’99. Mike also competed in his first PBR Finals in 1999, and qualified for 10 more Finals before deciding he’d had enough serious injuries, and retiring in 2010. He was inducted into the PBR Ring of Honor in 2012.
Mike’s career change brought the opportunity for the husband and wife to team rope together more than as a hobby. With Hannah heading and Mike heeling, they began entering World Series ropings and the Bob Feist Invitational. They won the #12.5 Oil Field Showdown at the Wrangler BFI, held in Guthrie, Oklahoma, in both 2020 and 2021, taking home over $100,000 both years.
Team roping also gave them an avenue to give back to their community. They hosted Mike White’s Annual Pasture Roping and Benefit for 13 years, donating the proceeds to Ropin Dreams, an organization that benefits children with serious illnesses or injuries. They’ve been unable to host the benefit since 2021 when the land they used for the pasture roping was sold, but hope to bring the event back. “We’ve helped a lot of people through rough times.”
Mike’s main heel horse went to college with their oldest son, Logan (19), who is rodeoing at Howard College, but Mike has a 4-year-old that he’s excited to put more miles on. Hannah won both years at the BFI on her gelding Theodore, and rides another gelding named Charlie, who is also becoming a solid head horse. Their youngest son, Morgan (12), won’t be taking over any horses since he is a football and baseball athlete. “We’re great with that and we support him. But I told him if he’s ever interested in roping to let me know, and I’ll have the horses saddled,” says Mike.
Additionally, there will be three foals on the ground next spring out of Mike and Hannah’s mares. They are starting over after downsizing their breeding program around 2010, when the horse market in Texas hit rock bottom. Their focus these days is the AQHA Riata Buckle stallion incentive program. “I don’t have specific bloodlines, because if a horse rides good, I keep it. And if I don’t like it, I don’t keep it—you can’t ride the papers,” says Mike. He takes in a few outside horses to ride, but is primarily focused on training his own horses, which Hannah rides as well once they are started.
Whichever horses the couple saddle each day, they have a 5 Star Equine pad on their back. Mike and Hannah joined the 5 Star sponsor team this year, and are excited to be part of a line of products they’ve used for years. The company also sponsored their pasture roping. “What I really like about their pads is that they sit square underneath my saddle and contour to the back, so the saddle isn’t rolling all over the place or cutting my horse in two,” says Hannah. Mike adds that his horses aren’t sore when using 5 Star pads, even when they take some impact when he’s heeling.
The roping duo’s plans are to continue caring for their family, roping in the World Series and jackpots, and further developing their horse training program, MW Performance Horses. Mike, who is also an auctioneer, is building his customer base in the spray foam industry. “I know if I can get that going, I can free up time to ride those young horses more.”

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