Skylar Wireman – 2022 US Equestrian Junior Equestrian of the Year

by Cheryl Erpelding • photos: Andrew Ryback

Last month, San Diego County based Hunter/Jumper rider Skylar Wireman was awarded by US Equestrian, the prestigious national title of 2022 Junior Equestrian of the Year at their annual meeting in Lexington, KY! Skylar, who turned 18 last November, was nominated by the USHJA and submitted the required essay on the sportsman’s charter, and moved on to the final selections with zoom meeting interviews with the judges from the US Equestrian committee members. Skylar was also nominated last year, but now finishing up her final junior year, she has claimed the top honor for her amazing year she had in the hunter/jumper show world. The award is given annually to a rider from any discipline that “personifies courage, honor, dedication and sportsmanship, all while making outstanding contributions to the sport.”

Born during a week of horse showing, and in the saddle since she was 18 months old, Skylar grew up in her mom Shayne Wireman’s very busy and successful Chestnut Hills Equestrian Center in Bonsall, CA. She has lived and breathed everything there is to do with horses. She has logged thousands of hours in the saddle, riding a wide variety of ponies and horses, bringing home hundreds of championships and blue ribbons. She said in her interview with Diana DeRosa of Equus Television, that the keys to her success are hard work, dedication, drive and mostly the passion and love for the horses. Skylar, as all of the riders at her mom’s barn, does all of the horse care – from lunging, grooming, icing legs and more. For Skylar, taking care of the horses is just as important as finding the perfect distance to the jumps. She believes that working with the horses for their complete daily care creates a special bond that makes the horses she rides want to try extra hard for her in the show ring.

Skylar and Heritage Farms’ Charisma on their way to winning the WEC Eq Cup and the Ford Explorer in the background.

Skylar’s awards during her junior years are numerous and her house is filled with trophies, ribbons and prizes for her countless successes in the show ring. In the past three years she won the USEF Talent Search Finals, the Gladstone Cup, the PCHA Horsemanship Finals and every CPHA Medal Final offered – Junior, Style of Riding, Foundation, and the WCE. She was 2nd in the WIHS Finals twice, 2nd and 4th in the Dover USEF Finals and 6th in the Maclay Finals. Skylar also also topped the USHJA National Derby Junior Standings in 2022, and won Junior Hunter Finals West. Skylar also moved into the Grand Prix at age 16, and she has already won three regional Grand Prix classes and one smaller Grand Prix at the 1.35m height. She recently won her first National Grand Prix at Thermal Week 1 on Coolio 23, along with the $30,000 1.40m Open Classic on DeLaloma, and the $10k Welcome on Coolio 23. She won three of the four feature classes week 1 at the Desert International Horse Park in her first professional week competing against top International hunter/jumper riders.

I spoke with Shayne about her daughter’s amazing horsemanship journey and we shared some fun memories of Skylar and her riding adventures. Kelly Covey was one of the first trainers to give her her first catch ride on Bumble Bee, which led to many more rides on ponies and horses needing Skylar’s talent to help each equine reach their potential in the horse show arena. Skylar’s journey as a talented horseman and rider extend beyond the show ring as she on one trip, so impressed a state trooper in Oklahoma as she expertly changed a flat tire on the horse trailer at the age of 14. With the trooper saying, “She did the job absolutely correct and better than most men I observed doing the same task! My hat is off to you on a job well done and to your parents for raising you so well.” When he asked her if she needed any help, she calmly explained, “No thanks, I’ve got it.” Shayne shared that Sklyar still loves to hop on the horses bareback for fun, but is also happy to jump on the tractor early in the morning to prep the arena for a long day of schooling 12-15 horses.

Coolio 23 and Skylar in the FEI**** at Las Vegas, where they finished 2nd in the $25,000 Lucky Sevens 1.45m two phase.

Making it to the top and receiving national recognition, required a strong commitment, careful planning, and wonderful support from Skylar’s team. Not coming from a very wealthy family, Shayne and Skylar were very strategic in planning which shows to attend, doing all their own grooming, and putting prize money Skylar earned into the funds to keep her show career on track. They are grateful that this year they had clients that sent horses to compete back East at the indoor shows where Skylar was trying to win top classes and medals, which helped ease the financial burden of showing in the indoor shows and giving her the national recognition that lead to her Junior Equestrian of the Year Award.

Besides Shayne, Skylar recently has worked with Andre Dignelli and Peter Wylde, world renowned horseman that shared their thoughts about Skylar. Peter shared, “When I first met Skylar she was 14. She was participating in the EAP final where I was the head clinician and judge. Everything about her as a rider and horse person impressed me. Six months later I called her mom and offered to host her in my stable in Wellington for 10 days. These 10 days convinced me she was destined for greatness. Over the past three years I have watched Skylar flourish. Shayne and I were thrilled that Andre Dignelli and the team at Heritage Farm took Skylar on and helped her have an unbelievable Junior career.

It is now time for Skylar to transition to the professional ranks with her eyes on, among other things, the international jumping arena. I look forward to doing all I can to help Skylar on this path. It should be a very fun ride.”

Andre said, “Skylar has it all. She has the excellent work ethic, the talent to succeed, the appreciation for her trainers and her horses, plus she has her mom in her corner. It has been a wonderful experience to help her and be a part of her journey. I hope she continues to aim big and dream big and me and my team look forward to continuing to be a part of her journey.”

Skylar is extremely grateful to the owners, her mom, the other trainers that she has gotten to work with, and especially to the horses for helping her receive this ultimate achievement as a junior rider. To find out more about Skylar and Shayne’s Chestnut Hills Equestrian Center – visit

Skylar’s 2022 Highlights

h WEC Eq Cup Winner
h Regional Derby Finals Winner
h Champion Gladstone Cup
h Junior Hunter Finals Champion
h CPHA Foundation Medal Champion
h Maclay Regionals Champion
h Grand Champion Jr Hunters Capital Challenge
winning all classes and the
Challenge Class on Bonne Starlight
h Champion Med Jr Jumpers
Capital Challenge-Karen
h Prix De States Team Silver-Karen
h Reserve Champion Dover USEF Finals
h Reserve Champion WIHS Equitation Finals
h Champion Med Junior Jumpers WIHS -Karen
h WCE Medal Finals Winner
h CPHA Special Achievement Award
h USEF Junior Equestrian of the Year

2022 Las Vegas National Horse Show:
h 2nd FEI 1.45m -Coolio
h 6th FEI 1.35m -Citoki
h Champion 1.30m Open Jumpers-Karen
h Winner 1.30m Grand Prix-Karen
h Winner 1.20m Grand Prix-Cielo
h Champion Eq 15-17 -Famous
h Winner WCE Medal Finals
h 3rd $25,000 USHJA Open
Hunter Derby-Kaliman