The sun was shining, and the good vibes were palpable during Sunday’s $20,000 MeadowGrove & Friends 1.20m Open Classic at the Desert International Horse Park (DIHP).
A total of 77 horses participated in the charity class, raising more than $14,000 for #WeRideTogether and awareness for the Courage First Athlete Helpline. DIHP generously donated all entry fees to benefit #WeRideTogether, while giving all competing riders a crack at the $20K purse.
And did they ever take it.
Emerging professional Skylar Wireman (USA) set a speedy standard from the start. First to tackle the Peter Grant-designed course and first to advance to the jump off, she stopped the clock at 38.555 seconds with “three-ring horse” West Port.
“[West Port] actually won the U25 in the International Hunter Derby on Friday,” said Wireman, noting that the versatile horse also shows in the equitation and jumper rings. “So first horse [in], I just went as fast as I could. And he was flying. He was so good.”
Their time held until the 57th horse took to the ring: Wireman aboard the ever speedy Karen! Winners of Friday night’s Speed League Final, she and the 11-year-old Hanoverian mare knocked over three seconds off the time to beat, crossing the timers in 35.225 to take over the lead—from herself.
“Karen!’s just a speed specialist,” smiled Wireman. “I saw that there were a lot of people in [the class]. So I thought, Well, if there’s any horse that I could win in on, it’s going to be Karen!
“[Originally] I was going to show her in the 1.35m class [on Sunday], and then when they put this class on I was like, ‘Oh I’ll do that and really go for it. It was for a really good cause, too, so part of it was getting more donations for [#WeRideTogether].”
Jamie Sailor and Fire Flash Toltein were the only combination to get in the way of Wireman’s one-two finish. The pair took second in a time of 36.871, relegating Wireman and West Port to third.
Wireman, a recent junior-turned-pro who is now training junior riders, entered three horses in the class in a bid to support healthy barn environments.
“It’s so important to have a safe environment,” she shared. “The kids learn so much, even beyond riding, just life skills [in the barn]. It’s important to have a safe space for kids to learn and grow up in. It’s a big family environment so you want to teach them to be ready for the big world.”
The 1.20m 2b class was sponsored by MeadowGrove Farm and ‘friends’ far and wide. These included: Francie & Dick Carvin, Nick Haness, Joie Gatlin & Morley Abey Showjumping, Leslie Steele, Sandhaven Farm, West Coast Sport Horses, Kyle King LLC, Ingenium Farm, Elvenstar, Alora Sporthorses, Balmoral Farm, Meredith Herman & Jenn Serek, Nora & Morgan Thomas, Windfall Farm, Erin Duffy Show Stables, Whitethorne and Guillermo Obligado, Equ Lifestyle Boutique, Equestrian Stockholm and Koffie Velo.
“I was thrilled with the turnout and support for the first ever MeadowGrove & Friends class. It’s important that we all stand behind and support a fun and safe environment in our sport for all exhibitors,” said MeadowGrove partner Susie Schroer. “MeadowGrove looks forward to sponsoring this class in the years ahead.”
Kennedy Chang and Starfly earned the top-placing junior rider award, while Stacey Bacheller and Ketouelle-S took the top-placing amateur rider award. Both were awarded Equestrian Stockholm Saddle pads and bonnets.
All participants in the class were given a pair of #WeRideTogether Dreamers & Schemers socks, plus spur straps from Equ Lifestyle Boutique and a #WeRideTogether water bottle.
“We’re so delighted with the amount of support that came out for this class,” said #WeRideTogether founder Carrie Kehring. “Having nearly 80 riders, we’ve raised quite a bit for #WeRideTogether, and it will go a long way toward helping us grow and build awareness toward a more positive sport.
“Desert Horse Park means so much to me and my family,” Kehring continued. “It’s really amazing, with #WeRideTogether, to be able to give back to this sport and work toward making it as healthy and wonderful and positive as we can for all developing athletes.”
#WeRideTogether was founded in 2021 as an awareness campaign and educational website designed to empower, inform and unite the equestrian community around sexual misconduct prevention. The organization has since grown into a 501c3 and is creating a blueprint to help make all sports safer for youth, amateur, and professional athletes.
Want to show your support for #WeRideTogether? It’s not too late! Tax-deductible donations can still be made at weridetogether.today/donate.