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  • Writer's pictureCatie Staszak

Whirlwind Victory for Wireman in Fort Worth

Skylar Wireman (USA) and Tornado, winners of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2023/24 - Fort Worth (USA) (FEI/Shannon Brinkman)

Less than two weeks after the Swedish Warmblood Tornado was made a permanent member of Skylar Wireman's (USA) string, the pair topped the first Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ of their respective careers. 

In front of an enthusiastic crowd at Fort Worth's Will Rogers Coliseum (USA), 19-year-old Wireman and Tornado bested a six-horse jump-off and were one of just two double-clear efforts on the evening. 

The winning time was 36.54 seconds. Nicolas Gamboa (COL), in his own right just 23 years old finished second with NKH Mr. Darcy (36.79 seconds). Jill Humphrey (USA) and Chromatic BH finished third for the second consecutive leg after earning the same finish last out in Las Vegas (USA); the pair finished with a single knockdown in 34.69 seconds.

"It doesn't feel real. It's incredible. That horse is incredible. Every time I've jumped a bigger track, he's just gotten better and better." 

Skylar Wireman (USA)

After a foot-perfect first round, things did not go entirely to plan for Wireman in the jump-off. Humphrey navigated Anderson Lima's (MEX) 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]. Apparently I missed that note! He said to do seven [strides] and go inside, but I saw six, and I tried to still go inside and quickly rerouted."

Skylar Wireman (USA)

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.

"[Tornado] was just flying," Wireman said. "I just [thought], 'I better stay on!'"

Wireman has only been partnered with Tornado since June, when fellow rider Nick Haness (USA) 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 explained. "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. She is undaunted.

"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."

After six legs, Daniel Bluman (ISR) leads the North American League standings with 43 points. Sweetnam second (41 points), while Humphrey moved into third (39 points). 

The NAL resumes at Puebla (MEX) on 27 January 2024.


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