Take a 15-year-old who’s scored numerous wins on numerous catch-rides and pair her with a 22-year-old veteran jumper and equitation horse, and you’ve got a combination that’s primed to compete. That’s exactly what happened in this year’s Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals—West at Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano, California, when Skylar Wireman of Bonsall, California, piloted Haven Farms’ Dutch Warmblood gelding Hot Pants to victory.
Wireman won Phase II, the gymnastic phase, on a score of 85, which put her third overall on Day 1. She pulled off another win in Phase III over a 1.15-meter jumper-style course on a score of 90. Wireman was joined by Parker Cliff, who led the first day, Kaitlyn Lovingfoss and Amber Ayyad in the work-off. The top four riders competed over a shortened course first with their own horses, then with each of their competitors’ horses to show the adaptability of their skills. Wireman was crowned champion with an overall score of 354.
“For me, it is pretty unreal,” Wireman said. “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.”
Watch Wireman’s winning Phase III round, courtesy of USEF Network:
Wireman 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,” she said. “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.”
Nineteen-year-old Lovingfoss, Santa Clarita, California, was the reserve champion, riding Hearty Hercules, Mavis Spencer’s 8-year-old warmblood gelding, with a score of 349. Cliff, 15, Folsom, California, finished in third place, riding Fanadwest Rebel, who won the Gulliver Trophy as the best horse, with a score of 330. Seventeen-year-old Ayyad, Rancho Santa Fe, California, took home fourth place, riding Common Sense, her 14-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding, with a score of 320.