12-year-old Skylar Millhouser Loves Riding Horses & Competing
Aug 21, 2017 08:22AM
By Melanie Heisinger
The Millhouser family loves animals. They own three horses, four dogs, four cats and even a few chickens on their ranch in Venus just outside Mansfield. But it’s the horses that captivated youngest daughter, 12-year-old Skylar, and have led to an interesting and rewarding hobby.
She’s been riding and taking care of horses as far back as she can remember. She is a member of the Welsh Pony & Cobb Society of America where she shows her horse, Shiner, a half-Welsh/half-Quarter Horse gelding and competes throughout Texas and Oklahoma. Welsh Pony and Cob breeds are used for equestrian competitive disciplines, including showing, jumping and driving. Last year, Skylar won a couple of pretty prestigious national championships.
Skylar lives with her parents, Bill and Audra, and older brother Blake. Both kids attend Mansfield schools. She says her brother loves to restore old trucks and play tennis while she and her mom love to ride horses.
We got to catch up with Skylar, see her beautiful horse and find out more about her.
How did you get interested in horses? My mom rides and we have had horses and ponies my whole life.
Can you explain exactly what ways you have been involved with horses? I help my mom with chores, which involves cleaning stalls and pens, feeding and grooming ponies and my favorite part, riding.
Just what is the Welsh Pony & Cob Society of America (WPCSA)? It’s the group that brings together Welsh pony breeders and sanctions competitions across the country. The AGM is the Annual General Meeting in the United States for the Welsh Pony & Cob Society. This year it was in San Francisco.
How did you get involved? My mom has been showing in the WPCSA for about 5 years. My great aunt breeds, raises and shows Welsh ponies. The pony I show now is by her stallion, Flying Diamond the Bailef and out of a Quarter Horse mare that my mom had, so we have had Bailef’s Time Two Shine, AKA Shiner, since he was born.
What do you love most about it? I just love spending time with Shiner. He is a very sweet pony. I also love going to the show and spending time with all of my friends that I have made in the Welsh Pony & Cob Society.
How competitive is all of this? It is competitive but our Welsh pony friends are like family. Everyone is very supportive and friendly and we have a good time. We often have parties and cook outs at our shows.
How often and where do you travel? Last year we had 11 shows. I also attended a few riding clinics. We are in the south central region so our shows are mostly in Texas and Oklahoma.
Do you own other horses? We also own two Gypsy Horses, Bandera Kilted Moonlight Traveler (Kilty) and Bandera Come On Eileen (Ellie).
What’s unique about the horses? How are they different? They all have unique personalities. Shiner is sweet and is responsive to ride. He loves to jump and do cross-country. Kilty is very laid back and thinks work is overrated, but he is dependable and listens…most of the time. He loves belly scratches and watermelon. Ellie is young and we have just started to ride her. She is also laid back and easy going. Ellie loves to eat and go on trail rides.
What about taking care of the horses? Our horses live here at our ranch with us so my mom and I work together to get the chores done at least twice a day.
How expensive is taking care of the horses and being involved with the competition? It is nice that we keep our horses at home so we don’t have the expense of a boarding facility, but it is still expensive for feeding, veterinarian care, farrier care and especially showing.
Is there training/certification you had or have to go through? I take lessons weekly and have been to quite a few riding camps and clinics, but there is no specific certification required.
Do you have a coach or a guide of some kind? My instructor is very knowledgeable and fun to learn from. Her name is Lynda Lewis.
What does it take to be good at it? It takes lots of practice, dedication, athleticism and sometimes a sense of humor when a pony decides to be silly.
What’s most rewarding about it to you? The most rewarding thing is learning and growing with Shiner and working hard to become a great team.
What has been the greatest challenge or obstacle you have faced so far in competing? Shiner had not had much experience jumping before I started riding him at the end of 2015. Our show season began in March of 2016, so we practiced and took a lot of lessons. I am so proud that we earned National Championships in both of our jumping divisions.
What are your future plans for competing? I hope to continue competing on Shiner in jumping and maybe eventing. I would also like to show Kilty and Ellie in some Gypsy shows and maybe Dressage.
Tell us about the awards you have won. In 2016, we won National Championships in Western Pleasure, Stock Seat Equitation, Short Stirrup Hunter, Short Stirrup Equitation and English Pleasure. I also earned a National Reserve Championship in Jr. Handler and was 4th in the nation in Trail. I am proud to say that I was the National All Around High Point Youth 12 & under. In addition, Shiner was awarded 3rd in the nation in USEF Horse of the Year Program Welsh Pleasure and 1st in our region.
Describe how your family has supported your interest? My mom and dad both go with me to all of the shows. My dad hauls my pony in our trailer. He sets up when we arrive at the shows. My mom is my best cheerleader. She helps me get myself and my pony ready to show. She makes sure we have everything that we need.
What kind of student are you? Favorite subject? I enjoy school and I am on the honor roll. I was recently inducted into the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS). I like all of my classes but my favorite is Texas History. My teachers are all awesome and are very supportive of my equestrian sport.
Other interests/hobbies? I enjoy archery, Kung Fu and learning foreign languages.
What do you do in your spare time? I like to spend time with my friends and my cat. I also like to be outside and climb trees.
How would you describe your personality? I am adventurous and try to be kind to everyone.
What are your college/career plans? I hope to earn a college scholarship and compete on a college equestrian team. I would love to attend SMU, TCU or Texas Tech.
What do you like the most about going to school in Mansfield? I have always had wonderful teachers in Mansfield schools. There are also many educational opportunities I hope I am able to take advantage of when I am in high school.
What kind of career do you want to go into after school/college? I hope to have a career in the equine industry.
Who has inspired you and why? My mom is my biggest inspiration. She has been riding since she was a kid and won many awards as well. She is always there to support me.
Ice cream or apple pie? Ice cream on apple pie.
Food indulgence? Street tacos are amazing, especially when my mom or dad makes them.
What are you most proud of? I am extremely proud of how well my pony and I did this year, seeing how it was our first year competing/riding together.