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