By Karen Billing
Caroline Ingalls, an accomplished equestrian who honed her skills riding horses since the age of 7 in Rancho Santa Fe, was this summer’s champion at the Showpark Summer Classic’s California Professional Horseman’s Association Foundation Finals.
Riding her horse Y2K, Ingalls, 23, won the 22-and-over competition on a challenging course in Del Mar.
Ingalls grew up in Rancho Santa Fe and is completing her master’s degree at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. After graduation this November, she plans to return to Rancho Santa Fe.
When in town, she trains with Hap Hansen, Trudi Fletcher and Christine Praefke at the Osuna Ranch. Y2K, while owned by Hansen, has formed a special connection with Ingalls, and she is his rider.
“(The trainers) take such good care of him, and they’re so supportive,” said Ingalls, whose competition season is over until next year.
Ingalls started showing horses when she was about 8 years old and consistently moved up to bigger and bigger events.
“At 12, I started taking it very, very seriously, and ever since I’ve been really passionate about it,” said Ingalls, who specializes in jumping or equitation.
Ingalls rode on the Savannah College of Art and Design’s equestrian team for her four years of undergraduate eligibility and every summer returned to California to ride as much as she could. Y2K even came across country to compete in some college shows.
The CHPA win was Ingalls’ biggest victory since before she left for Georgia. Before college, she won a big championship in the junior division (under 18) at the Ronnie Mutch Equitation Championships in Palm Springs. That year, 2009, she also won the West Coast Junior Hunter Finals, the championship of the U.S. Equestrian Foundation.
“The CHPA win was really nice because I haven’t really been riding at all, and my horse, Y2K, is getting older and has arthritis, and had taken a lot of time off,” Ingalls said. “I said to my trainers that it would be fun for (us) to compete in Del Mar to see how well we could do — and then we went in and won. It was really great.”
While Ingalls started at the Rancho Riding Club, she has been training at Osuna Ranch since she was 16.
“I love it. I love the history of Rancho that’s there, and it’s right in the heart of town,” said Ingalls. “It’s really a lovely place and it’s really a great aspect of Rancho Santa Fe … It’s so hard to be out in Georgia and not riding there. It’s a huge incentive to come home to be back riding my horse with my trainers at Osuna.”
“Hap Hansen is one of the best in the business,” said Kate Williams, Caroline’s mother. “Rancho Santa Fe is so fortunate to have him in town.”