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Skylar Wireman – Born to ride

Tuesday, 05 March 2024
The Next Generation

Photo © Shannon Brinkmann. With the 10-year-old SWB gelding Tornado, Skylar Wireman won the 6th leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup North American League in Forth Worth, Texas. Photo © Shannon Brinkmann.


Text © World of Showjumping



“If someone would have told me at the beginning of last year that the World Cup Final would be a realistic goal, I would have said that’s crazy,” Skylar Wireman tells WoSJ. “To have that within reach is definitely a big milestone for me.” 

The 19-year-old – currently ranked 250th on the Longines Ranking – has taken the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2023/2024 North American League by storm during her debut season in the series. With the 10-year-old SWB gelding Tornado (Diarado x Chacco-Blue, bred by Susanne Feretti), Wireman won the 6th leg in the North American League – taking the top honours in the CSI4*-W 1.60m World Cup in Forth Worth, Texas. Wireman also placed 9th in the first leg in Sacramento and 8th in Las Vegas. And the win in Texas – in her 10th FEI start with Tornado – came as a huge surprise for Skylar. 

Riding before she could walk

Photo © Shannon Brinkmann. "Since I was a little kid, I’ve had big goals, I always knew what I wanted to do; jump big jumps," Skylar tells. Photo © Shannon Brinkmann.

“Horses have been a part of my life forever, I was pretty much born at the barn,” Skylar tells. “I think I actually sat on a horse on a lead-line at 14 months, before I could even walk. That's kind of where it all started, with me just being at the barn every day with my mom and I'm still based with her in Bonsall, Southern California. She’s had the farm for about 35 years now, for longer than I've been here. This place has always been what I've called home, it’s been my only home. We live on the farm, so I spend basically all day, every day at the barn. Since I was a little kid, I’ve had big goals, I always knew what I wanted to do; jump big jumps. On my first pony, I did walk, trot, a few cross rails and learned the canter and throughout my career I had success on the local circuit early on. The year 2020 was kind of my big turning point; I won the USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals at only 15 and ended up placing sixth at the Maclay National Championship.”

I spend basically all day, every day at the barn

“We have a lesson programme as well, with around 45 and 50 horses,” Skylar continues to tell about the operation she has at home with her mother Shayne. “On average, I have a list of somewhere between 10 to 20 horses a day, depending on whether the clients are coming in or not and we do training as well. We have kids that do equitation and hunters and a little bit of jumpers. I graduated two years ago from high school and I was going to do online college but then I kind of jumped right into my professional year and when it took off, I ended up not going back to school.” 

Skylar’s first jumper was her homebred, Ruby, who she started working with as a greenbroke baby and took all the way up to her first 1.45m Grand Prix win. In December 2020, Skylar got Citoki. ”We started in the medium and high junior jumpers, and qualified for North American Young Riders, but he broke his pelvis the day before the championships started. We carefully brought him back to work over the next year, and he returned to FEI competition in 2023, winning two CSI4*-W classes last fall, so we’ve come a long way,” Skylar tells. 


Photo © Shannon Brinkmann. "The aim was to get him going in the 1.40m and sold, but I fell in love with him and thought that he could possibly do more," Skylar tells about Tornado. Photo © Shannon Brinkmann.

“Tornado was sent to me as a sales horse,” Skylar tells about her ride for the FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2023/2024 North American League. “They were looking for someone that could ride him well because he's a little bit quirky and can be spooky and nervous. The aim was to get him going in the 1.40m and sold, but I fell in love with him and thought that he could possibly do more. We ended up getting some family friends together who helped us buy him. He's the one I've ended up doing all these four-star World Cups with.“ 

“He is such a funny horse to have, he is like a big happy puppy. He has the biggest heart and he always tries his hardest for me. He is in the first stall – of course he is – and he'll push on me like I’m his personal treat dispenser. I can go sit in his stall while he's laying down and he’ll cuddle with me.”

He has the biggest heart and he always tries his hardest for me

“I had never even jumped a 1.55m before the weekend in Sacramento, so to jump right into a four-star 1.60m Grand Prix was definitely a big step for me as well. Tornado has definitely stepped up quickly, but each time we do a bigger class, he seems to improve. Last fall, with the World Cup qualifiers, we had no sights set on the finals, we were simply just going in to get the experience because this level is a whole new ball game for me and Tornado. However, we were in the top ten in both Sacramento and Vegas, so I had been knocking on the door a bit before Texas. I did not have any expectations in Texas other than thinking it's going to be big for sure, knowing that it's our last West Coast qualifier, and there were some big names there.”

“That week, Tornado just jumped better and better and I couldn't be more proud of him,” Skylar tells about the weekend at Forth Worth where the two took their first World Cup win – in their 10th start together. “It was a crazy feeling to jump clear in the World Cup. I went pretty much pedal to the metal in the jump-off, because I haven't done a lot of jump-offs like that and I needed to practice. I did make a mistake in the jump-off; I tried to do an inside turn, but I didn't get it and I thought I might have lost it there, trying to go inside when I could have just gone right around. However, we were fast enough in the end – I think the pressure of my clear pushed the others to go faster and the speed caught up with them. It was pretty unbelievable for me to win and it still is crazy to think about it; it still doesn't feel real.” 

Moving up the levels through the US Pathway 

Photo © Shannon Brinkmann. “The biggest thing I've learned from my mother is to work hard and dream big," Skylar tells. Photo © Shannon Brinkmann.

“I definitely think the US Pathway for young riders is a really good thing to have; all those years of equitation teaches you the basics and the fundamentals and then you can add speed and height on a jumper,” Skylar – who did her first FEI start in August 2022 – tells about her road from the junior jumpers to four-star World Cups. “The interesting thing is that the World Cup qualifier that I did in Las Vegas was very technical and all those years of equitation definitely paid off there. I felt like I knew exactly where I needed to be and where I needed my check. It was only my second time jumping that big of a class, but I felt like I knew what I needed to do; it felt like riding the Maclay Finals over 1.60m.” 

Skylar’s mother Shayne is her main trainer at home and she also gets help from Peter Wylde. “He flies in here and there to help me out a little bit for the bigger shows,” Skylar explains. 

You need to work hard, and when you think you're working hard enough, work even harder

“The biggest thing I've learned from my mother is to work hard and dream big. It's all those years of hard, hard work that are now starting to pay off. That win in Texas, I find it extremely rewarding. I don't really have a groom with me to take to the shows and I mostly take care of my horses on my own. I clip them, I tack them up, and having done all that myself, now knowing that it'll pay off is the biggest motivation. Working hard is what I have learned from my mother, and Peter has the same mindset. He tends to say that you need to work hard, and when you think you're working hard enough, work even harder. They also encourage me to watch all those big classes, watch the people at the top of the sport and learn all I can.” 

“Growing up, I looked up to McLain Ward and Kent Farrington, and Laura Kraut as a female rider is definitely an inspiration and someone to look up to. Peter Wylde – who did win an Olympic gold medal for the US in 2004 – is definitely one of my biggest role models. He's the most humble person ever, which I think is a great attribute to have. He comes out here just because he loves to help. He saw me ride in the USHJA Emerging Athletes Programme, called me and asked if I wanted to come ride with him in Florida – that's how our connection was formed.”

Making the best of it 

Photo © Shannon Brinkmann. “Grooming my own horses is actually something I love doing,” Skylar says. Photo © Shannon Brinkmann.

“We haven't had the money to buy many horses,” Skylar continues. “I have one owner that owns a couple of the horses, but mainly I have taken whatever has been sent to me, horses that other people couldn't sell, that were thought to be unridable. I've done what I can to make them better and in the end, it is so rewarding. It is great to see a horse improve, get a horse going that others couldn't figure out. Now having Tornado has made a huge difference. Before I catch rode a lot of horses through the 1.45m but the hardest part for me was having the right horse to do the bigger classes with, having enough horsepower under me.”

Skylar does all the daily barn chores and believes that the extra time spent with her horses is what helps her build such strong connections with the horses she rides. “Grooming my own horses is actually something I love doing,” she says. “I think that having a special bond with your horse is so important. I love doing this sport because I love animals; I love spending time with the horses, they're amazing. I feel so fortunate that I have these wonderful creatures in my life and that I get to spend time with them. That’s probably what I love the most about our sport; just getting to be around such unique animals.” 

“My short-term goal is to represent the US at the World Cup Final in Riyadh this year,” Skylar concludes. “In terms of bigger long-term goals, I want to jump on the highest level and maybe go to Europe at some point. I hope to be part of the US team at the Olympics one day.” 


5.3.2024 No reproduction of any of the content in this article will be accepted without a written permission, all rights reserved © World of If copyright violations occur, a penalty fee will apply. 


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