October 2020 - Medal Finals Round-Up
Written by CRM
Thursday, 01 October 2020 04:54
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Skylar Wireman dominates the beginning of the hunter/jumper medal season.

Skylar Wireman’s unstoppable streak continued with her win of the USET Platinum Performance Show Jumping Talent Search finals West, held at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano from Sept. 18-20. With Mandy Porter and Julie Winkel in the judge’s booth through the event’s flat, gymnastic and show jumping phases, Skylar emerged the champion after the fourth phase in which each of the four finalists rode their own horse, then each other’s, over a shortened 1.15m jumping style course on the venue’s beautiful Grand Prix field.


“For me, it is pretty unreal,” Skylar said of winning the title. “Last year I was fourth, so I made it to the final four, which was really exciting. Then, this year it was kind of surprising that I made it [into the final four] because I started in 18th after the first phase and I moved my way up to third after the gymnastics phase, and then I moved up to second after the jumping phase. It was really unreal for me. It still hasn’t fully set in.”

Skylar Wireman & Hot Pants. Photo: McCool Photography

 Skylar felt comfortable in Phase IV thanks to her past experiences. “I had ridden Parker Cliff’s horse last year in the final four, then I have done so much catch-riding for Nick [Haness] and several other trainers, so I am pretty used to getting on a strange horse and jumping a few jumps and going in. Also, I had watched a lot of those horses go for the past couple weeks, so I was pretty confident going into the final four.”

Skylar rode Hot Pants, owned by Lisa Halterman.

Kaitlyn Lovingfoss finished in reserve aboard James Hagman’s Hearty Hercules; Parker Cliff was third on Fandawest Rebel, owned by trainers Jill and Jan Humphrey; and Amber Ayyad was fourth on Common Sense, owned by Alicia Saxton.

Lanie Walkenbach & Let’s Go. Photo: McCool Photography

A week prior, at the same venue, Skylar topped the field at the NHSAA/ASPCA Maclay Region 8 Championships. Her partner was, again, Hot Pants, who earned the Vigo Best Equitation Horse Award, a perpetual trophy in honor of Robyn and Demi Stiegler’s retired equitation horse. The win positions Skylar to head to Lexington, KY, in November for the national finals. Reserve went to Sydney Young, a student of Jill Humphrey, and Stella Buckingham finished third.

Stella trains at her family’s Q of E Farm in the Los Angeles area.

Before the Regionals got underway at the Blenheim Fall Tournament, Skylar was presented with the Shelby Drazan Memorial Award in recognition of sportsmanship, integrity and passion. These qualities were made clear in an excerpt of Skylar’s application essay: “Work hard, pay it forward, dream big and go for it,” she wrote of her life motto.

Lauren Morlock & Mighty Quen.

Foxfield Medal Finals

The Oaks International Grand Prix Field also hosted the 49th Annual Foxfield Medal Finals on Sept. 13. Lanie Walkenbach finished first among 21 amateur contenders, riding Let’s Go. Emily Williams and Carlo were third, with Haylee Hall and Clearing in third.

Walkenbach, who attends college at Texas Christian University, expressed her excitement at having the opportunity to compete on the grass Grand Prix field. “I am currently on Texas Christian University’s Equestrian team, so I just come to show when I get the opportunity. I am so thankful that I had the chance to compete in such a prestigious final.”

She was also elated to compete in the finals with her teammate, Let›s Go, known as “Pedro” around the barn. “He is one of the smartest and coolest horses I’ve ever been on. I’ve had the opportunity to ride him off and on since January and I share him with my sister Paige.”

Grace Belmont & Quirin, pictured with barn-mates, mother/trainer Cassie Belmont, and assistant trainer Allison Sherred. Photo: GrandPix

Avery Glynn. & Sazerac Photo: GrandPix

Season Finale In Sonoma

In Northern California, the Sonoma Horse Park closed out its summer season with two medal finals and the Les Talents Hermés two-phase equitation classic Sept. 18-20.

Lauren Morlock fulfilled a longtime goal in winning the JRW Medal Finals presented by CWD, formerly called the Hudson & Co Medal. Avery Glenn was reserve champion and Kiera Hennigan was third.

Grace Belmont had her first equitation final win in the Pickwick Medal Finals presented by Equifit. The daughter of trainer Cassie Belmont, Grace rode Quirin to the win. Avery Glynn was reserve in this final, too, followed again by Kiera Hennigan.

Avery finished first in the large field contending the 3’3” Les Talents Hermés, earning herself a second trip to Paris. Bella Primavera finished second and Darby Bonomi, (our performance psychology columnist!) was third.

Kyle Cline & Cazz C. Photo: McCool Photography

USHJA 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal Finals West

Over four rounds in two days, Kyle Cline topped the field in the EMO Insurance/USHJA 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal Finals West, which concluded on Sept. 22 in San Juan Capistrano. Formatted similarly to the USET Talent Search, the competition is part of the jumper rider development pipeline.

“Over the course of the two days I felt that my rounds stayed fairly consistent with no large gap between the scores,” said Kyle. “I enjoyed competing in the Final since it’s such a competitive and well-organized class. The three phases are definitely one of the best aspects, pushing the riders at the top to stay consistent or giving others who didn’t do as well in one phase the chance to make it up in the next,” said Cline, of Laguna Hills. “Usually I don’t really feel pressure, but going into the final phase, there was definitely some inner tension to have a nice, smooth round.”

“I feel incredibly privileged to have been this year’s winner and am eternally grateful for Cazz C, who always tries his heart out, and the whole team at Bridgeport Farms for their constant hard work to better us,” he continued.

Elvenstar rider Charley Stowell finished second, followed by Quinn Ferreira, a student of Tina Yates.