Karen! came to Chestnut Hills’ Shayne and Skylar Wireman as a 1.20m horse sales horse in the fall of 2021.

She’s described on her sales page as “Never mareish, always sweet in hand, all business under saddle, zero complaints to management in spite of her name, Karen! is a stunning, picture perfect, careful, handy, quick, brave jumper mare with a full career ahead of her for a talented junior or amateur that is not intimidated by a powerful boss lady.”

In other words, she’s not a “Karen” Karen.

“The name does not suit her,” laughed 18-year-old Skylar. “She’s the sweetest horse ever. And she’s just so perfect.”

From the start, the Wiremans saw more in the grey, 16.2 hand Hanoverian mare than her show record implied.

“She came to us as a 1.20m horse, [but] we were like I think this horse has way more jump in there and certainly she’s proven that.”

The decision was made to step the mare up, Skylar in the saddle and mom Shayne training on the ground. Just a few months later at the 2022 Desert Circuit at Desert International Horse Park in Thermal, CA they were consistently winning in the 1.30m Junior Jumpers. By March, they were logging wins in the 1.45m Junior/Amateur Division at World Equestrian Center in Ohio. A trend that kept up through spring.

“She’s just so consistent. I can always count on her. She’s such a special mare,” enthused Skylar.

The pair were so consistent, in fact, Karen!’s owner opted to keep the mare for Skylar to campaign at the 2022 FEI North American Youth Championships in Traverse City, MI in August that summer. The pair were eighth in the opening speed class of the 1.35m Junior Division and pulled a single rail in the first round of the team event for Zone 10.

Now into their second season together and competing in the professional ranks, Skylar turned pro in January, the winning shows no signs of slowing down.

Karen! and Skylar were second in the 1.35m Welcome Week I of the 2023 Desert Circuit. On Wednesday of Week IV, they won it.

“She’s kind of a specialty in the speed classes because she’s very quick across the ground and she’s quick in the air. She doesn’t spend a lot of time [over the jumps] and she turns on a dime,” Skylar continued.

Shaving corners and leaving out strides on the Alan Wade designed speed track, they were the only pair of the 26-deep field to cross the timers under 60 seconds. And by a nearly three second margin, stopping the clock at 57.041 seconds for the win.

Michael Williamson (USA) and Granito Noordenhoek came closest to their time, securing second in 60.135. James Chawke (IRL) and Gamble finished third in 60.887.

“I used the bend to slow the lines down because the straight lines were getting tight on the other horse that I did. So I knew that if I put a little curve in them I could make them fit a little better and shave off time elsewhere,” explained Skylar.

“In the last line, I think that’s where I really got it. I ended up doing seven [strides] and I walked a forward eight. I sliced so hard in and then I was just right on the inside track and I was like, Oh, there’s seven.”

For Skylar, an accomplished junior and equitation rider before aging out of the division last year, spotting the distance early is a skill that comes naturally.

“It’s been that way for quite a long time,” she shared. “You know, we all make mistakes, but I think in general I can see where I am pretty far away, which is definitely helpful in the jumper ring because I can make a turn and see exactly where I want to be.”

International show jumping starts Thursday at DIHP with the week’s CSI2* competition. Catch all the action live on DIHP TV.

Feature image: ©DIHP/Megan Giese Photography