In her first year as a professional, and less than two weeks after officially acquiring the horse she rode, 19-year-old Skylar Wireman and Tornado notched the first Longines FEI Jumping World Cup victory of their respective careers.
Wireman, of Bonsall, California, and her own Tornado bested a six-horse jump to win the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Fort Worth on Saturday night at the Split Rock Ft. Worth CSIW-4* in front of a packed house at the Will Rogers Coliseum in Texas. They did it despite making what could have been a costly re-route on course, but nonetheless finished the fastest of just two to go clear in the jump-off.
“It doesn’t feel real. It’s incredible. That horse is incredible,” Wireman said. “Every time I’ve jumped a bigger track, he’s just gotten better and better.”
Her winning time was 36.54 seconds. Nicolas Gamboa (Colombia), another young gun at just 23 years old, finished second with NKH Mr. Darcy in 36.79. Jill Humphrey and Chromatic BH were the fastest of the night, at 34.69 seconds, but had a rail to finish third for the second consecutive leg; the pair also were third last time out in Las Vegas.
Watch their winning jump-off, courtesy of FEI.tv:
After a foot-perfect first round, things did not go entirely to plan for Wireman in the jump-off. Humphrey navigated Anderson Lima’s (Mexico) short course first and put pressure on those behind her after executing a bold inside turn to the jump-off’s fourth fence. Wireman planned to replicate the turn, but she ended up leaving out a stride to the fence that preceded it, making the turn more difficult.
When Tornado struggled to execute the move, Wireman made a split-second decision to bypass the effort and go swiftly around a fence to the next vertical.
“[My coach Peter Wylde] told me to go around if I did six [strides],” Wireman said. “Apparently I missed that note! He said to do seven and go inside, but I saw six, and I tried to still go inside and quickly rerouted.”
While some time was lost in the moment, Wireman made up enough before and after to fend off Gamboa—along with a pair of Irish Olympians in Shane Sweetnam and Darragh Kenny, both of whom incurred faults with RR Combella and VDL Cartello, respectively.
Watch highlights from the jump-off, courtesy of FEI.tv:
“[Tornado] was just flying,” Wireman said. “I just [thought], ‘I better stay on!'”
Wireman has only been partnered with Tornado, a 9-year-old Swedish Warmblood (Diarado—Chiquitita), since June, when fellow rider Nick Haness asked the young professional to campaign the horse with an aim to sell him. Haness had injured his wrist and was unable to ride, and Wireman produced three clear efforts with the gelding at their debut show in California. But then she suffered an injury of her own.
“I ended up getting hurt, but Nick was nice enough to let me keep him through that time. Then [I recovered and] we jumped our first bigger classes,” Wireman said. “Just recently, some close family members helped me keep him, forever.
“Honestly, he has the biggest heart of any horse I’ve ever had,” she added.
In her first year as a professional rider, Wireman has made a smooth transition from the junior, young rider and U25 ranks to contend at the senior international level.
“I’ve had great fun [with the transition],” Wireman shared. “The more you challenge me, and the more you dare me, the more I push harder and want it more.”
See complete results here.