Thermal, CA. – February 5, 2023 – Katie Laurie (AUS) arrived in the desert during Desert Circuit IV in winning fashion. Her first week proved fruitful for her, taking the win Sunday in the $50,000 $50,000 Brown Advisory CSI2* Grand Prix aboard Carissa McCall’s Cera Caruso.

Katie Laurie (AUS) & Cera Caruso. Photo by Megan Giese

Alan Wade (IRL) built a course suitable for a talented field of 27 international athletes, and ultimately 10 of them were able to jump it clear. In a stacked jump-off, Laurie was able to ride closer to the end, but she knew she still had some quick pairs following her.

In the end, only three pairs produced double-clear rounds, and of those, Laurie was the quickest, jumping the short course in 35.70 seconds. Vanessa Mannix (CAN) set an early time to beat of 36.46 seconds with Valentino D’Elte, finishing second. Third place was awarded to Skylar Wireman (USA) and Citoki, decorating the podium with three nations.

Katie Laurie (AUS) & Cera Caruso in their winning presentation. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“I’ve ridden ‘Elvis’ for a long time,” Laurie remarked of Cera Caruso. “They’re really good owners of mine: Mike and Carissa McCall from New Zealand. He’s quite the character. He’s pretty wild in the warmup, but he always gives it everything in the ring, so he’s a very trustworthy great partner. He’s so quiet at home but he’s so excited at the horse show.”

The strategy with the 15-year-old Australian Warmblood (Casall x Capone) is simple, and they’ve opted to let him go his own way with less equipment, including no martingale. “He’s easy in the ring,” she continued. “I keep it very simple. He likes to go his own way so I just leave him to it. He likes to clear the jumps and that’s the main thing. The type of horses have changed a bit; they’re a bit smaller and faster and lighter, and it suits them to go that way.”

Vanessa Mannix (CAN) & Valentino D’Elte. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Despite being quite easy in most ways, Elvis likes to add some flair when Laurie and her team least expect it. “He’s an escapee in the stables,” she joked. “If you’re slow with the door, he escapes, and if he’s out he knows he’s not meant to be so he just runs.”

Laurie, originally from New Zealand, made the move with her family to Canada almost exactly three years ago, allowing them to escape the cold and spend a good bit of time in the desert, where Laurie and Elvis have won at the CSI5* level.

Skylar Wireman (USA) & Citoki. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“There are so many things,” she said about her fondness of DIHP. “The rings are great, there’s so much space to go hack, and they make it really nice and friendly for competitors. There are a lot of things to like here.”

Michael Williamson & Granite Noordenhoek. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Laurie, mother of two, knows her kids’ upbringing is looking vastly different from her own back in New Zealand, but she’s enjoying every step of the journey, allowing them to explore new activities and enjoy their surroundings. “They do a lot of different things,” she said of her kids’ activities. “They love skiing; that’s their new thing. The rodeo scene where we are is big, so they’ve done a few junior days. Who knows where that will go. They do the goat tying and untying, and barrel racing and stuff. We do have a goat now named Pumpkin.”

Michael Williamson Captures $30,000 Marshall & Sterling 1.40m Open Classic

Earlier Sunday, the morning belonged to Michael Williamson, who brought a new star to the scene this week in Granito Noordenhoek, producing a win in the $30,000 Marshall & Sterling 1.40m Open Classic. Taking victory by over three seconds, Williamson and the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Corland x Cash) produced the quickest of only three double-clears, hinting at a theme for the day in the Grand Prix Arena.

“This is a new one for me,” Williamson said of Granito Noordenhoek. “I just started riding him this week. He’s incredible. I started the week in the 1.35m Welcome and finished second, and I did an open 1.40 to get a feel of the height, and then this class. He’s one of the main rides I have now for this track and I wanted to get to know him and he jumped phenomenally.”

The horse and Williamson are new to showing together, but they first met several years ago. “Funny enough, when I rode [in Holland] about four or five years ago, I was working for the horse’s owner, Leon Thijssen. I got to flat [Granito Noordenhoek] and jump him a little. He’s an electric, careful horse, always tries his heart out, he’s quick, he’s fast and he’s a super competitive, very smart horse,” he shared.

Michael Williamson & Granite Noordenhoek in their winning presentation. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Williamson took a role working for Irish show jumper Mark Kinsella, basing out of DIHP, last winter. While learning how to develop and produce a variety of horses, Williamson has learned a great deal and is stepping into the bigger classes, with FEI hopes on the horizon with this particular mount.

“I really like working for Mark because he understands the [European] system and brings a different level of jumping to California,” Williamson explained. “Mark has really helped bring me up and has mentored me, and he has given me a lot of rides. I’d say horsemanship [is his number one thing]. Whether on the horse or on the ground, it’s all about horsemanship and how they perform their best and are in the best care they can be in.”

Skylar Wireman took another podium result with Justin Resnik’s Cielo for second in the class, while Ariel Marx captured third with JSM Starboy. Show jumping returns Wednesday as Desert Circuit V gets underway with the $10,000 Run A Mok 1.35m Welcome Speed.


$50,000 Brown Advisory CSI2* Grand Prix

  1. CERA CARUSO: 2008 AWHA gelding by Casall x Capone

KATIE LAURIE (AUS), Katie Laurie: 0/0/35.70

  1. VALENTINO D’ELTE: 2009 SF gelding by Castronom Z De Hus x Windsor

VANESSA MANNIX (CAN), Vanessa Mannix: 0/0/36.46

  1. CITOKI: 2006 HOLST gelding by Catoki x Chambertin

SKYLAR WIREMAN (USA), Shayne Wireman: 0/0/38.70

  1. CHARDONNAY: 2011 WESTF mare by Comme Il Faut x Jus De Pomme


  1. ODYSSEUS: 2011 AHHA gelding by Osilvis x Riverman

KYLE KING (USA), Patricia Vasey: 0/4/37.63

  1. CHASE: 2007 HOLST gelding by Colman x Coriander

ZOE BROWN (USA), Harley Brown Equestrian, Inc.: 0/4/44.58

  1. COMRADO: 2011 DSP gelding by Como 25 x Coronado 3

SAVANNAH JENKINS (USA), Proper 12, LLC: 0/8/37.63

  1. CASIANO: 2014 Anglo European gelding by Casino Berlin x Iroko

CHANDLER MEADOWS (USA), Chandler Meadows: 0/12/38.36

  1. CONRADO 12: 2013 ZANG gelding by Cardento x Diarado

ALI RAMSAY (CAN), Ramsay Equestrian LLC: 0/19/61.12

  1. D-LALOMA: 2008 KWPN mare by Colandro x Quidam De Revel

SKYLAR WIREMAN (USA), Shayne Wireman: 0/WD

  1. QUAPRICE B: 2014 OS stallion by Quaprice Bois Margot x Indoctro

TRACEY EPP (CAN), Tracey Epp: 1/82.52

  1. PASQUINELLE: 2012 Swedish Warmblood gelding by Centaurus x Feliciano

EMILY FITZGERALD (CAN), Emily Fitzgerald: 3/84.59


$30,000 Marshall & Sterling 1.40m Open Classic

  1. Granito Noordenkoek / Michael Williamson / Michael Williamson / 0/0/30.328
  2. Cielo / Skylar Wireman / Justin Resnik / 0/0/33.410
  3. JSM Starboy / Ariel Marx / Mary Bernardo / 0/0/33.527
  4. Gamble / James Chawke / James Chawke / 0/4/30.707
  5. My Ferrari / Sahana Ganesan / Sahana Ganesan / 0/4/32.717
  6. Bynamic’s Conthaloubet / Janet Hischer / Molly Case / 0/4/33.596
  7. Madison / Holly Scapa / Holly Scapa / 0/4/35.772
  8. Arcadia / Leslie Thomas / David Murdoch / 0/8/34.500
  9. Karen! / Skylar Wireman / MKT Equine LLC / 4/70.458
  10. Laviata / Kaitlin Campbell / Beth Bowlen / 4/78.419
  11. Florence / Sean Summers / Sean Summers / 4/73.785
  12. Two Smoking Barrels UK / Lindsay Linford / Lindsay Linford / 4/73.944
Megan Sweeney & Abracadabra in their winning presentation, pictured with Alyssa Ohlig of Prestige Italia. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Megan Sweeney Earns Valuable Points In Children’s Jumpers Prestige Youth Cup

The 2023 Desert Circuit is providing a new and unique opportunity for Children’s Jumpers in the Prestige Youth Cup. The top five performers in the division from Desert Circuit will be invited to attend an exclusive clinic in December at DIHP led by Canadian show jumper Amy Millar.

During Desert Circuit IV, the top prize in the Prestige Youth Cup Children’s Jumper Classic went to Megan Sweeney and Abracadabra. With goals to move up to the 1.30m with the horse, Sweeney is off to a stellar start with the 18-year-old gelding and is excited by the opportunity to qualify for the clinic.

“He’s an amazing horse,” Sweeney said of Abracadabra. “He’s so talented. We’ve been really working together as a team and he really likes to go fast, and so do I. I had to get used to that feeling. We both did our best today, and I’m really grateful for him. He’s an amazing horse.”

Sweeney and her family frequent DIHP and this isn’t her first Children’s Jumper Classic victory this season. “Competing [at DIHP] is super awesome,” she continued. “It’s super close to home. It’s a really, really nice facility and I really like the Prestige horse snack bar. That’s a really awesome idea. The footing is great. Overall, the people are so nice and amazing.”

Sweeney has high hopes to qualify for the clinic, but her long-term goals are to excel in the jumpers at a high level. “If I got into the [Prestige Clinic] with a five-star rider, I would be really grateful,” she shared. “It’s an amazing opportunity to improve my level of riding. I think that any person who does get it is going to have a great time and learn a lot. For me, specifically, it would help me so much and I’d be so honored if I got it. It would be a really wonderful, overall great experience.”

Sienna Faidi & POTUS in their winning presentation. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

The participants in the clinic will be announced at the close of Desert Circuit.

Sienna Faidi And Potus Prove Presidential In Junior Hunter Classic

The reigning Small 15 & Under 3’3” Junior Hunter had another day in the spotlight to close out Desert Circuit IV, taking the win in the Perfect Products 3’3” Junior Hunter Classic aboard POTUS.

Although they have countless impressive victories together, their partnership is still fairly new. “We started last summer at the Sonoma Horse Park,” Faidi said. “He’s such a great horse. We did Junior Hunter Finals and won there, we did indoors this year, and we’re just ready for a great year. He’s such a strong horse, always there, always trying his best. I’m very grateful.”

Sienna Faidi & POTUS. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

POTUS was named reserve National Horse of the Year in the Junior Hunters for 2022, and Faidi, who rides with Kindred Hill, has her sights set on an equally impressive 2023, ready for anything that comes her way.

“We’re gearing up for WCHR week next week and then will show the last two weeks,” she continued. I want to go back to indoors this year, but whatever comes our way will come. I want to keep an open mindset for the rest of the season and see how it goes. I’m going to stay in the 3’3” this year and I’m waiting on my other horse, Esteban, to come back, then we’ll see where we go from there to move up or not. We’ve done really well this season and I’m excited.”

Hunter action resumes Wednesday for the start of WCHR week and Desert Circuit V with the initial classes in the professional divisions.


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