Education: BA from Princeton University in English
Status: Married to Tim Wickes
Family: Four children, Patrick Manahan, Hugh Manahan, Baylor Wickes, Sam Wickes
Residence: Unionville, PA and Wellington, FL
What is your equestrian background?
I grew up riding from age 3 with Louise Serio at her mother’s barn, Derbydown, in Kennett Square, PA. I showed ponies for other people, broke a lot of animals, galloped horses on the racetrack, fox hunted, Pony Clubbed- we did it all!
At some point, we decided to do more away shows, and we left Derbydown for Gerry Goldman’s. My sister, Polly, and I got to ride the legendary pony, Dresden. She was our first foray into the big leagues and life on the road. From there, I rode Junior Hunters for other people and did the equitation. As a junior, I never had many horses of my own, but would ride anything offered to me.
When did you turn professional?
I graduated from Princeton in 1980 and decided to take one year off before heading off to law school. That was 37 years ago! You can imagine how thrilled my parents were. I started riding and training and worked for some great professionals like Tim and Michele Grubb while my two oldest kids were little.
What was the trajectory of your professional career?
I opened my own business in 1990 and began to work for Peter Wetherill’s Happy Hill Farm. I had ridden for Peter as a junior, so we had known each other for years. After decades away from the sport, he decided to start riding again. We had an amazing 10 years together and some great horses: Hudson, Junior League, Northern Rollick, Desert Storm, Rox Don, Eddie Murphy, UFO Drum. We had a stellar roster of hunters and jumpers and a great crew to care for them. We won everything there was to win!
I had my twins in1993 and decided in 1999 that it was time to get off of the road. I left Happy Hill and took a few years off from the horse business, other than some free- lance teaching. When I was ready to go back, I re-opened Springtown Farm and started riding and training on a large level again. My daughter, Baylor, was beginning to show, so we had some great fun as a family.
How did you end up as the Editor of The Plaid Horse?
When Baylor aged out and went away to college, the business felt a bit empty. I never thought I would be a horse trainer my entire life, and I set out to see what else the world might hold for me, almost driving my husband crazy in the process! A writer at heart, I soon found some freelance writing assignments, including a stint at USEF.
My son, Sam, is on the autism spectrum. Through him, I became extremely involved in that world, and have stepped up my efforts there. I am the President of the Board of Trustees at the Hill Top Preparatory School in Bryn Mawr, PA. My work in the autism community is enormously satisfying, a real labor of love. There is much work to be done for these kids in education, employment, and social acceptance.
As to TPH, Piper called me out of the blue during Devon last year. We met, decided to give it a three month try, and here I am. I am tremendously appreciative of the opportunity and of the staff of TPH. Everyone is 28 except for me! You can imagine the patience that they have to muster regarding technology. Piper is brilliant, from a different generation and a different experience in this business, so we mesh well.
Do you still ride and train?
I feel like I have culled the best of the business for myself. I am involved with Caves Farm in Owings Mills, MD, a beautiful 50 horse facility. The trainers, Katie Cooper and Katie Francella, run a great business with hunters and jumpers at all levels. When home, I am lucky enough to train and ride there 2-3 days per week and travel to some shows with them. I enjoy the fun part without my phone ringing all night, and it is flexible enough for me to explore other facets of life.
Judging is a fun and educational challenge for me, and I hope to do more of it in the future. Recently, I became a member of the Board of Directors of the USHJA and sit on several different committees. I am absolutely committed to the important work on governance and the direction of our sport.
What do you envision as the future for The Plaid Horse?
I would like to continue to expand and improve the editorial content. TPH is about education, horsemanship and appealing to a wide sector of hunter/jumper enthusiasts. The magazine will grow as an editorial and informational source for our multi-tiered equestrian community.
About the Author: Sissy is a Princeton University graduate, a lifelong rider and trainer, a USEF R rated judge, a freelance journalist, an autism advocate and Editor of The Plaid Horse. Her illustrious resume includes extensive show hunter and jumper experience. She lives with her family in Unionville, PA and Wellington, FL.
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