Skye Liikanen grew up riding horses from a young age. As a teen, Skye was very competitive to National level in both Dressage and Showing, being a member of the QLD Young Rider Squad and a HOTY winner.
Skye spent over four years as a trick rider/performer at the Australian Outback Spectacular whilst studying to be a school teacher. This took her to Western Australia for a few years and in between teaching she worked on a cattle station and taught local kids how to ride.
Skye made the decision to follow her passion of horses to North America. Whilst overseas she got to spend some time working with some amazing horsemen and women. The highlight was working for two years as an assistant trainer to the incredibly talented Dan James of the Double Dan duo, who is based in the United States at the Australian Equine Performance Center in Kentucky.
Working for Dan and Elizabeth James was an incredibly rewarding experience, where Skye were able to travel extensively throughout America assisting with clinics, expo’s and performances as well as learn from some amazing coaches and trainers who came to the Center to teach (the likes of Clayton Fredericks, Brett Parbery, Craig Johnson, Vicki Wilson, Josh Lyons and Mark and Miranda Lyon as well as Dan himself).
Skye had the opportunity to work with a vast range of breeds and types of horses while at Dan’s, including warmbloods, thoroughbreds, quarter horses and ponies as well as starting horses at liberty and working with Dan’s liberty team.
One of Skye’s main goals in America was to take part in the Retired Racehorse Project’s TB Makeover. Skye found her partner Brumby for this in April of 2018 and had six months prepare him for the Freestyle and Dressage components of the competition in October. Brumby showed the true versatility of the TB by winning the Dressage Championship and placing 4th in the Freestyle in a field of over 100 competitors. Skye was also able to successfully take out clients’ dressage horses who had been started under saddle at the centre to their first competitions with wins and placings.
One of the highlights of working for Dan was being his travelling groom at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon USA with the reining stallion Don Magnum as part of the Australian team.
Since returning to Australia, Skye has been working with various client horses and has made a great partnership with International Thoroughbred Retirement where she re-educates thoroughbreds who return from Hong Kong and helps find suitable homes for them. She has been competing in various dressage competitions on her own and client horses with great success. Skye also enjoys various western/cow horse disciplines and hopes to become competitive in these events in the future.