Horse People
November 2019 - Horse People: Skylar Wireman
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Wednesday, 30 October 2019 23:37
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horsepeople

“Yes!” is always this young horsewoman’s answer to more riding opportunities.

by Kim F. Miller

As a parent, nothing compares to having a child’s character praised by others. As the ribbons and trophies rack up in the Wireman household from 14-year-old Skylar’s hunter, jumper and equestrian accomplishments, such compliments outpace them.


“She’s a great student, a super hard worker and is wonderful to have around,” says Traci Brooks, who, with her husband Carleton, was among the first to recognize Skylar’s potential as a pony and hunter catch rider. “She makes it easy for us because the horses like her, the kids like her and she’s super fun to have around.” That nicely sums up how this rising star is viewed by those who’ve seen her grow up on the circuit.

Skylar Wireman & Hot Pants. Photo: Kim F. Miller

San Diego trainer Lisa Halterman lent Skylar the ride on top equitation mount, Hot Pants, because she saw a work ethic carried forward in the young rider raised at her mom Shayne Wireman’s Chestnut Hills Equestrian Center in Bonsall. “Shayne works harder than anybody I know and so does her daughter.” Shayne purchased the property when she was 20, having followed her mother’s advice “that anything is possible if you work hard enough for it.”

“My mom raised me that way,” Shayne reflects. “That everything you want, you have to work hard for and earn.” Appreciation is the trait Shayne is most proud to see in Skylar. “She is more grateful for what she has because she understands what it costs and has earned it.”

It’s always been family policy that Skylar pays for special class entry fees herself. By helping clients with horse keeping chores she started her horse show fund early. She’s grown savvy about weighing the pros and cons of entering various classes, in terms of her odds of winning prize money and of helping herself or the horse onto the next level.

International Hunter Derby on Captivated. Photo: SNC

“The earliest example I remember was, at 9, Skylar wanting to do the Del Sol Hunter Derby at the county shows Mark Conley managed. I think the entry fee was $50. I told her, ‘You’re going to be in there with professionals. It’s a tough class.’ She made the second round and finished second!” More recently, Skylar’s been determined to get a piece of the International Hunter Derby prize purses. “She kept forking out the money and never got into the top 12 for prize money, but she would not give up,” Shayne says.

Skylar recently crossed that threshold and got to make a nice deposit in what the family calls “The Bank of Dad.” Dan Wireman is “not a horse guy,” Shayne explains. But he’s a friendly and instructive banker, offering generous interest rates and explanations of how they compound. From a young age, Skylar put horse cash atop birthday and holiday wish lists and she’s always been able to deposit prize money in her fund.

Happily, Skylar’s adult approach to pursuing firm Olympic equestrian dreams hasn’t dampened her joy in the daily process of good horsemanship. A happy, helpful attitude and sense of fun radiate whether she’s mucking a stall, at the back gate before a big class or in the winner’s circle.

“I like to help people out,” Skylar explains. “If somebody doesn’t know how to do something, I’m happy to help. At the USHJA’s Emerging Athlete Program sessions, for example, we all work together to keep the barn nice and tidy. Everyone learns together and we all bond by helping each other.”

Skylar and one of her many buddies, Emily Williams

No Place Like Home

Along with victories, Skylar is racking up travel miles. This month, she was set to contest the Maclay Finals at the National Horse Show in Kentucky, the USHJA Emerging Athletes Finals in Ohio, then on to Las Vegas for the WCE and 1.3M Jumper finals. She loves it all but also cherishes her time at Chestnut Hills, where DIY horse care and fun go hand-in-hand.
A sophomore at Bonsall High School, Skylar returned to public school for high school after four years of online, home school study. She’s grateful to the administrators’ understanding attitude toward her sport commitment and happy to fulfill contracted expectations when she’s absent for shows. Twice a week, she’s finished at 11:30 a.m. so she can spend more time at her favorite place: the barn.

Skylar Wireman. Photo: Kim F. Miller

Caring for and enjoying three Miniature Horses is a favorite downtime barn activity with friends. One Mini pulls a cart around the property and others are guided over small jumping courses, with Skylar and her friends getting extra exercise along the way.

“I do everything at the barn,” Skylar says of an at-home routine that usually includes riding six horses a day. Her rides are typically a mixture of schooling lesson horses, prepping ponies, her own or leased show horses and a few youngsters that currently include two 3-year-olds. She rides friends’ horses that need a tune-up, for-sale steeds and anything else available.

While she’s become a seasoned A show rider, Skylar still competes and excels in Greater San Diego Hunter Jumper Assn.’s shows and in the Interscholastic Equestrian Association league, where Chestnut Hills is a West Coast pioneer and dominant force nationally. The team’s riders have qualified for and competed back East at Nationals all three years of the team’s existence, and Skylar has represented it as an individual at Nationals twice, winning in 2018. She’s especially excited to have the IEA Hunt Seat Nationals in Los Angeles, in the spring of 2020.

helping out with summer camp

While there’s ups and downs to being the trainer’s kid, Skylar sees it as a pretty sweet deal. “It’s really nice because I’m always getting help.” Having a trainer mom that’s busy is a plus, too. “I’ve been allowed to make some mistakes and to figure some things out on my own.”

There’s rarely time to have a lesson of her own. Instead she rides on her own while Shayne is teaching others, with Shayne offering suggestions as she can. At shows, she’s on her own for knowing class schedules and getting to the ring and ready on time.

“Some people tell me I’m hard on Skylar,” Shayne shares. “At the same time, I feel like we are such good friends. She knows I have high expectations of her. At the end of the day, the best feeling I can get is when someone tells me that she is so kind, humble. A great kid. I live for that.”

Jumping fun with Manny the Mini

Earning Opportunities

Working with San Diego trainer Lisa Halterman for the past two years has augmented Skylar’s education. The jumper Avalon and her equitation partner, Hot Pants, are two current rides that came through Lisa. The trainer has a history of finding hard working kids whose talents outstrip their budget and giving them a leg up with good horses. Skylar fit that bill to a T, Lisa says.

As a catch rider, Skylar is in increasing demand.  “We’d seen Skylar from afar for some time and noticed how hard she and her mom worked, doing everything themselves at shows,” relays Traci Brooks. “She was doing everything the right way and we were happy to give her an opportunity.” For the last few years, Skylar has returned their early belief with consistently sympathetic riding. “She treats each horse like an individual, riding it the way it wants to be ridden. She has great compassion for each horse and tries to understand its perspective.”

Along with the Brooks, Nick Haness, Christa Endicott, Leslie Nelson and Paul and Nicky Haunert have asked Skylar to ride for them. They typically approach Shayne first, who then asks her daughter an unnecessary question: “Would you like this ride?”

“Yes!” is always the answer, Skylar confirms.

WCHR Junior Rider Champion, with Nick Haness, at Capital Challenge Photo: Shawn McMillen Photography

2019 Highlights:

May: • Res Champion $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at Memorial Day Classic on Captivated
June: • Overall Grand Green Pony Hunter Champion West Coast Pony Challenge on Jimmy Choo
WCHR shows: • High Score Rider at all four shows she did, all on catch rides
September: • Portuguese Bend National: Champion PCHA Horsemanship Finals 14 & under on Hot Pants • Champion $10,000 Jr/AO Jumper Classic and the Inaugural Carol Dean Porter Jumper Style of Riding Award on Avalon • Champion Junior Hunters on Captivated• High Point Junior rider and High point Overall rider, High Score Jumper Horse and High Score Jumper Rider
Blenheim Fall: • Champion and Res Champion USHJA Pony Hunter Derby Finals West on Secret Crush and Half Moon Bay; 10th Maclay Regionals     on Captivated.
Blenheim International: 4th USEF Talent Search Finals on Hot Pants
October: Capital Challenge 1st, 3rd, 3rd, 5th in 3’3” Junior Hunters and Res Champion in the WCHR Challenge Class on Captivated • Overall National WCHR Champion 3’3” Junior Hunter Rider • USHJA Emerging Athlete Program: selected for the National EAP Finals in November

Hunt teams at the GSDHJA Champs in 2016

Rating Recent Accomplishments

Riding: Which accomplishment were you most proud of?
Skylar:
The PCHA 14 & Under Medal Finals win. It’s my final 14-year-old year so it felt awesome to win. The first year I did it, four years ago, my horse took off bucking in the first round. I was eighth the year after that, then third last year. And, I just love the Portuguese National Horse Show that hosts this final. It’s all volunteers who work so hard to make the show happen and it’s local, so I see a lot of my friends.

Riding: Most exciting?
Skylar:
Winning the 1.3M Jumper Classic, also at Portuguese Bend. I rode in my first class at that height with Avalon (leased from Margot Verdict) just the day before, so it was exciting to move up to begin with. We wanted to qualify for the finals at the National Horse Show in Las Vegas, but we knew it would be hard without only two shows to qualify. Fortunately, you qualify by prize money, so I knew if we won, it would move us way up. Which it did!

Riding: Most fun?
Skylar:
Going to the Capital Challenge Horse Show and becoming the Overall National WCHR Champion 3’3” Junior Hunter Rider. It was my first time going to Indoors, so just doing that was amazing. It’s definitely very competitive, but at the same time really fun and great to meet a lot of new people.

 
April 2019 - Horse People: Claire Manhard
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Friday, 29 March 2019 02:04
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horsepeople

San Diego up-and-comer makes steady progress toward international goals.

by Kim F. Miller

This is Claire Manhard’s final year of eligibility for Brentina Cup U25 dressage competition and she is poised to make the most of it. Since graduating college in December of 2017, the San Diegan has been making her mark on the upper level dressage scene. She and 15 year old Danish Warmblood, Wilfonia, began 2018 at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Florida, competing at Intermediare II. By August, they had qualified for their first USEF Young Adult Brentina Cup Dressage National Championships in the Chicago area, where they finished fourth overall and third in the U25 Grand Prix.

 
December 2018 - Benjamin Heckman
Written by CRM
Friday, 30 November 2018 02:06
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horsepeople

Adrenaline rush snags a mainstream sports guy’s interest in pursuing an equestrian path.

Benjamin Heckman is a sports crazy 16-year-old. The Northern Californian is a Warriors fanatic with a head full of basketball stats and stories. After a cross-country jumping experience at Eventful Acres this past spring, he’s also a fanatic about eventing. Benjamin had plenty of fun in his first three years of regular riding, but admits it would be a “bit cooler” if he weren’t virtually the only young guy doing it.

Maggie Clancy’s Strides Riding Academy in Petaluma is the main source of Benjamin’s horsemanship foundation so far. There, he started on a hunter/jumper track and enjoyed being a member of the barn’s Interscholastic Equestrian Association team along with 11 girls. Since the eventing camp, he’s switched full-time to that discipline and now has his own new horse. Benjamin followed his mother Alice Chan’s footsteps into the horse world, and is off and galloping through it with her full support.

 
October 2018 - Emma Pacyna
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Thursday, 27 September 2018 20:15
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horsepeople

Hard-working Region 8 Maclay Medal winner inspires a little help from her friends.

by Kim F. Miller

"You need to talk to Emma Pacyna.”

Georgy Maskrey-Segesman got that message from a few friends and fellow equestrian professionals about a year ago. She operates a sporthorse sales and leasing program at her family’s Whitethorne Ranch in Moorpark and was on the lookout for a working student suited to making the most of the opportunity.

 
April 2017 - Tina DiLandri Yates
Written by Kim F. Miller
Friday, 31 March 2017 03:15
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horse people

Young show jumper rides high on her return to the West Coast.

by Kim F. Miller

I’m a bit on cloud 9,” said Tina DiLandri Yates of her third place finish in last November’s Longines FEI World Cup™ class in Las Vegas aboard Zelote VDL. She went to Vegas without expectations about her placement, but wound up at the winners’ press conference after giving German veteran Christian Heineking, the victor, and Mexican Olympian Enrique Gonzales a run for their money in the jump-off.

 
December 2016 - Kristine Howe
Written by Kim F. Miller
Thursday, 01 December 2016 02:57
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horse people

Long absence from the sport makes Grand Prix Freestyle Championship all the sweeter.

by Kim F. Miller

If you’ve ever driven through California’s agriculture valleys and fantasized about galloping through orchards and crop fields, you have a sense for what Kristine Howe’s childhood was like. Growing up a horse crazy girl on her family’s Westlake Farm in the Fresno area’s Stratford, Kristine believes she probably sat on a horse before she could walk. Her grandmother raised Arabians and her parents supported her horsey enthusiasms in every way.

 
November 2016 - Ruth Bley
Written by Kim F. Miller
Tuesday, 01 November 2016 02:40
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horse people

A quiet contributor to the sport becomes a national champion.

by Kim F. Miller

It’s quiet all day in Castro Valley’s Cull Canyon. Golden, oak tree-dotted hills stand sentry above Cull Canyon Ranch, where amateur eventer Ruth Bley lives, keeps her own horses and manages a small boarding and training facility. It’s even quieter at 9 p.m., when Ruth puts away her third horse of the night. That’s following a full day in the “real world,” where she manages an electrical contracting company.

 
June 2016 - Kayla Lott
Written by Kim F. Miller
Wednesday, 01 June 2016 06:56
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horse people

Interscholastic Equestrian Association champ taking her game to Oklahoma State.

by Kim F. Miller

It’s fitting that Kayla Lott’s fifth and final trip to the Interscholastic Equestrian Association Finals was her finest. Riding for Elvenstar, an early West Coast adopter of the national program for middle and high school riders, Kayla conquered in Kentucky during the April 20-24 Championships. She was Varsity Open Champion, defending a title earned for Zone 10 last year by Ransome Rombauer, and earned the Leading Rider Award.

 
January 2016 - Emma & Gracie Marlowe
Written by Kim F. Miller
Saturday, 02 January 2016 05:51
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horse people

Aspiring professionals engender the support of the village required to make their mark in the sport.

by Kim F. Miller

November 14, 2015 was the peak of “Marlowe Weekend.”

Seventeen year old Emma Marlowe stayed atop three rounds of the WCE Medal Finals at the Las Vegas National Horse Show to win that one in the afternoon, and 19 year old Gracie nailed the LAHJA/LA Saddlery Senior Medal finals a few hours later in Los Angeles.

 
December 2015 - Elizabeth Landers
Written by Kim F. Miller
Saturday, 28 November 2015 01:41
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horse people

Worldly equestrian experiences enlighten a goal of high-level success in jumping and dressage.

by Kim F. Miller

Elizabeth Landers caught our attention when we read that she and her First Level star Liberty had transitioned to dressage from show jumping. It turns out that is only the tip of the iceberg in this USDF Region 7 First Level Freestyle champion’s story.

 
November 2015 - Jim & Diane Carter
Written by Kim F. Miller
Sunday, 01 November 2015 05:14
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horse people

American Horse Products owners serve equestrians and promote their interests in mainstream San Juan Capistrano life.

by Kim F. Miller

There is no hitching post in front of American Horse Products tack and feed store in San Juan Capistrano. Yet the friendly vibe and outgoing attitude of its owners, Jim and Diane Carter, suggests there should be. Located next to paint and hardware outlets in a busy shopping complex, American Horse Products is a gathering spot for equine enthusiasts in the heart of San Juan Capistrano.

 

 
March 2019 - Horse People: Charlotte Babbitt
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Friday, 01 March 2019 01:50
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eventing

Independent young eventer gets more than by with a little help from her friends and family.

by Kim F. Miller

Winning two One-Star eventing competitions with a 6-year-old horse last year only scratches the surface of young rider Charlotte Babbitt’s story so far. The high school senior decided to live apart from her family at 15 in order to train with Andrea Pfeiffer’s Chocolate Horse Farm in Petaluma. Before that she lived with her family in the Tahoe area, where top notch eventing training was not available. With the blessing of her parents Elizabeth Thieriot and Victor Babbitt, she moved to Petaluma. She’s lived with members of Chocolate Horse Farm’s honorary family for the last three years, most recently with trainer Amber Levine.

 
October 2018 - Jaime Krupnick Geffen
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Thursday, 27 September 2018 20:19
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horsepeople

CPHA Foundation victory is the latest accomplishment in an already transformative year.

by Kim F. Miller

Jaime Krupnick Geffen was still on Cloud 9 three days after winning the CPHA Foundation Adult Equitation Championships in late August. She and her soon-to-be own horse, Conux, had elegantly mastered the riding and responsiveness challenges asked over two rounds held at Blenheim EquiSports’ Showpark Summer Classic. “The more technical the better when it comes to courses,” said Jaime of her enjoyment of the weekend’s counter-canters, trot fences, bending lines and striding challenges.

 

 
May 2017 - Mary Jensen
Written by Kim F. Miller
Friday, 28 April 2017 20:21
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horse people

Unique leatherwork becomes all the rage in equestrian circles.

by Kim F. Miller

It all started with a dog collar. That was the first leather item Mary Jensen set out to make just for fun on her boyfriend Allen Clarke’s new sewing machine. “I’m like, ‘This is kind of fun!’” she recalls.

 
December 2016 - Katherine Kinnison
Written by AnnA Buffini
Thursday, 01 December 2016 03:03
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horse people

Young jumper rider Katherine Kinnison looks to follow in her coach Nayel Nassar’s footsteps.

by AnnA Buffini

Young professional Nayel Nassar mostly focuses on his own impressive international show jumping career. When he does have a student, you know they’re good.

Katherine Kinnison is Nayel’s junior protégé. After a blazing hot 2016, she is on a roll to have an even better 2017.

 
December 2016 - Sydney Hutchins
Written by Kim F. Miller
Thursday, 01 December 2016 02:37
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horse people

Two-time Maclay Regionals winner juggles final junior year with busy life as a University of Georgia Bulldog.

by Kim F. Miller

The final year of junior eligibility can create crushing mental pressure for medal finals participants. But Region 8 Maclay Finals winner Sydney Hutchins decided not to let herself get into that situation.

 
September 2016 - Mackenna Shea
Written by Mikaela Kantorowski
Wednesday, 31 August 2016 19:09
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horse people

Young eventer makes her mark with terrific Rolex and Rebecca Farms finishes.

by Mikaela Kantorowski

Mackenna Shea is not like most 23 year olds. A normal day for Mackenna is spent at the barn riding and caring for a number of extremely talented horses under the watchful eye of Tamie Smith.

Mackenna is one of the nation’s brightest young eventers with wins at the Advanced and Three Star levels, as well as a successful trip around the Rolex Kentucky Four Star course.

 
June 2016 - Augusta Iwasaki & Lexie Looker
Written by Pam Maley & Jackie McFarland
Wednesday, 01 June 2016 06:53
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horse people

Pony stars on parallel paths into the junior ranks.

by Pam Maley & Jackie McFarland • photos by McCool Photography

Boldly galloping into the world of Junior Hunters, Augusta Iwasaki, 12, and Lexie Looker, 16, have taken the leap into horses with the same dedication and determination that earned them tremendous success in the pony ring.

 
December 2015 - Kelsey Holmes
Written by Kim F. Miller
Saturday, 28 November 2015 01:48
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horse people

Plan B has been pretty sweet for talented young eventer.

by Kim F. Miller

Seventeen year old Kelsey Holmes learned early that “Plan A” doesn’t always pan out.

In the summer of 2013, Kelsey was thrilled to purchase the experienced Two Star horse, NZB The Chosen One, from two-time Olympic gold medalist Mark Todd. They debuted that fall at Training Level, then segued successfully into Preliminary, intent on qualifying for that summer’s North American Junior/Young Riders Championship for Area VI.

 
December 2015 - Genevieve Meyer
Written by Sydney Callaway
Saturday, 28 November 2015 01:32
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horse people

Setbacks don’t alter Maclay Regional winner’s goal of ever-improving horsemanship.

by Sydney Callaway

I have known Genevieve Meyer for many years, as we have competed together in the equitation and jumper ring on several occasions. I can always spot her by her intent focus and perfectly polished boots. Genevieve is a hardworking young girl with a dream of riding professionally and the drive to get there. We all know the saying “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” However, when you put hard work and talent together, not even the sky can limit this young rider.

 
November 2015 - Michael Williamson
Written by Kim F. Miller
Sunday, 01 November 2015 05:08
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horse people

Modest Northern California rider is an emerging athlete, indeed.

by Kim F. Miller

There’s only one problem being Michael Williamson’s trainer: It’s sometimes hard to keep him on the day’s lesson plan.

The 15-year-old is a student of the sport. He often analyzes top show jumpers’ performances online, then comes to the barn the next day seeking to emulate what they do, explains his trainer Patty Ball. “Sometimes I’ll be trying to get my point across and he’ll say, ‘Well, I was watching (German Olympic champion) Marcus Ehning last night and I’m trying to do what he does.”