Finally Farm Earns Top Calls at Harrisburg and Washington

 Maggie Hill and Cassanto

Maggie Hill and Cassanto

The Finally Farm team continued on collecting accolades on the East Coast fall indoor circuit, with shows in October at the Pennsylvania National in Harrisburg and at the Washington International in downtown Washington, D.C.

Maggie Hill rose to the occasion at Harrisburg, taking the reserve championship aboard Cassanto in the Large Junior, 15 and under, section.

“Maggie had to win the stake on the final day to be reserve champion, and she went last in the class,” said trainer Liza Boyd. “So, it’s always fun when the pressure is on. She’s gotten so good at being in that position, and she makes the shot when it counts. I was really proud of her there.”

 Maggie Hill and Cassanto

Maggie Hill and Cassanto

Maggie also rode her veteran O’Ryan to good ribbons in the Small Juniors. “It was nice she could go in on him first before Cassanto and get a feel for the ring and the courses,” said Liza. “She’s come a long one way after just one year with these two horses. I’m so proud of her. She was very consistent on him in every single class.

“This was her first year ever doing the 3’6” Juniors,” Liza added. “She won a class last year here in the 3’3’ on Coco Chanel and then got nervous. What a difference this year has made in her riding and her confidence in the show ring.”

 Abigail Gordon and Nominee

Abigail Gordon and Nominee

Elly Ficca and her lovely gray Cleopatra’s Smile collected ribbons and jogs at Harrisburg in their first appearance together at indoors in the 3’6” Juniors.

“She rode really well, and she’s well prepared well for Washington and the National,” saiid Liza of Elly, who earned nice ribbons at Washington including a fourth over fences.

The Gordon sisters both took new mounts to indoors this year and are gaining great experience.

After earning an eighth at Harrisburg along with some jogs, Abigail and Nominee turned in some excellent performances at Washington, with the highlight being second in the Large Pony Hunter Stake class.

 Libbie Gordon and Shamrock

Libbie Gordon and Shamrock

Likewise, Libbie jumped to impressive performances at Washington, including a second and fourth over fences aboard Shamrock in the Large Junior Hunters for a memorable show.

Posted on October 31, 2018 .

Liza Boyd Earns First Place in the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at Tryon

 Liza Boyd and Tradition with owner Maggie Hill, left, and Finally Farm’s Katie Wood

Liza Boyd and Tradition with owner Maggie Hill, left, and Finally Farm’s Katie Wood

Liza Boyd and Tradition gave two stunning performances to earn a total score of 371 in the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby in Tryon Stadium to take the win on October 19 in Mill Spring, North Carolina.

Boyd, of Camden, South Carolina, piloted the 8-year-old Westphalian gelding for owner Maggie Hill. Reserve honors were earned by Harold Chopping, of Southern Pines, North Carolina, and Barbara Scott's Catchphrase, an 8-year-old Zangersheide gelding, combining their first-round and handy scores for a total of 370. Holly Shepherd, of Grand Bay, Alabama, claimed third in the irons for Helen Brown aboard Tybee, an 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding, finishing on a two-round total of 369.25.

Eighteen entries toured the course set by designers Dean Rheinheimer and JP Godard, with the top 12 invited back to showcase their talents in the Handy Round. Boyd noted that the second round was tricky, but she credited Tradition for pulling through.

"That was a pretty hard Handy," she explained. "From 1-2, when I was cantering to it, I didn't realize how tight I had turned. I think that's what got me such high points; I think I sliced to it a little bit more, a bit on accident, actually. When I was cantering to it, I thought for a second, 'Oh my, he could run out here.' But he just stepped up for me."

 Liza Boyd and Tradition

Liza Boyd and Tradition

Planning for a well-executed Handy Round, Boyd elaborated on her plan moving through the trot jump. "I definitely did have to fudge (the trot jump) a little," she said. "I started trotting later than I had planned, which gave me some extra points. You take a little risk when you take that long to come back to the trot. I did a sitting trot to get him engaged from behind a little bit better. Then for the hand gallop I tried to get it done early. I was able to measure the distance and make sure he was back on his hind legs for the last jump."

Boyd and Tradition have had a productive year, and the pair will continue to compete through the indoor season and head to Florida for the winter.

"The horse stepped up and was third at the USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals (in August), and then he went on and helped me win the World Champion Hunter Rider Pro Finals class at Capital Challenge," noted Boyd. "He helped me gain a place in the top six. He's done a lot for me this year, and he's really quickly stepped up to the plate to become a really top professional horse. He's young, and super, super scopey. In Europe, I think he really jumped some really great tracks; he's got a lot of ability. He's done a lot."

Special thanks to the Tryon International Equestrian Center for the press release.

Posted on October 25, 2018 .

Finally Farm Riders Reap Rewards at Capital Challenge

 Maggie Hill, Equitation 15-Year-Old Champion

Maggie Hill, Equitation 15-Year-Old Champion

In addition to Liza Boyd’s thrilling win in the WCHR Pro Finals for the second consecutive year (see Liza Boyd Repeats $10,000 WCHR Pro Finals Victory published in the News October 6), the Finally Farm team had a banner show at the Showplace Arena in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

 Maggie Hill

Maggie Hill

Maggie Hill started the momentum during Equitation Weekend when she captured the Equitation 15-Year-Old championship aboard Charmeur. Maggie also placed fifth in the THIS Medal Final in a competitive field.

“Her goal all year was to do the THIS Finals and the 3’3” equitation finals on the fall indoor circuit on her young equitation horse. It’s nice that the plan worked out,” said trainer Liza Boyd. “She also placed in the top 20 in the USHJA Jumping Seat Medal Final, which was a great class with 130 entries.”

Liza especially liked the format of the USHJA Jumping Seat Medal, which is based on the USEF Talent Search. Riders contest flat, gymnastics and jumping phases.

“The gymnastics phase had a lot of cavaletti and bounces, and I think that helps trainers go back and remember the basic foundations as they prepare their students,” said Liza. “Sometimes we focus too much on jumping courses, and the gymnastics help a rider focus on position and the training of the horse.”

 Alberto Ramirez and Cassanto

Alberto Ramirez and Cassanto

In the Hunters, Maggie also showed her prowess. She earned the Small Junior, 15 and under, championship aboard O’Ryan and received top ribbons aboard Cassanto. Thanks to Cassanto’s beautiful shine and condition, our own Alberto Ramirez received the Shapley’s Award.

Liza was especially grateful to see 16-year-old O’Ryan continue his winning ways, showing brilliance and freshness in the ring on the way to championship honors.

“I’m really proud of our program,” she said. “To keep these aged horses going and enjoying their jobs is very meaningful. You don’t see that as often any more. O’Ryan just seems to get better with age, so to me that says we’re doing it right. We have a great team, with veterinarian Diane Scheireck, barn manager Katie Wood who does the flatwork and trail rides. O’Ryan has nothing more to prove, but yet he keeps giving back to all of us and loves the shows. It’s so nice to start out the indoor season and gain confidence.”

 Maggie Hill, center, WCHR Southeast Regional Junior Champion

Maggie Hill, center, WCHR Southeast Regional Junior Champion

Maggie was also third overall in the WCHR National Junior standings and won the WCHR Southeast Regional title. WCHR.

Libbie Gordon and Shamrock earned great ribbons in the 3’6” Large Junior Hunters during their first Capital Challenge together. They earned a second in the handy and sixth in the WCHR Challenge.

 LIbbie Gordon and Shamrock

LIbbie Gordon and Shamrock

“It’s fun to see a horse you brought as a young horse come along and be such a solid Junior Hunter,” said Liza. “Libbie rode great. I also want to congratulate her on her new Small Junior Hunter Vistano. We’re excited for that new partnership.”

Sister Abbie Gordon also got some ribbons on Show Me Love out of 41 Medium Pony Hunters and had great rounds aboard her new Large Pony, Nominee.

Gigi Manigualt and Bastille took home ribbons from the 3’3” Juniors Hunters in a competitive field during her first Capital Challenge.

Liz Devor and her own Sawyer earned fantastic ribbons at Capital Challenge in the Adult Amateurs, including fifth in the WCHR Adult Amateur Challenge.

“It was fun watching him go around the ring after the many years she’s spent bringing him along,” said Liza of Liz. “She brought him here for me to show in the past and was dedicated to the process of training him. It’s gratifying to watch him do what we always hoped he’d do, but that doesn’t always happen. It takes a lot of dedication, hard work and patience to bring one along. But now it’s so fun to see him be a true amateur horse.”

 Liz Devor and Sawyer

Liz Devor and Sawyer

Elly Ficca and Cleopatra’s Smile captured some impressive ribbons in the Small Junior, 16-17, section. “She’s well prepared,” said Liza. “She has all three indoors heading her way, so she’s off to a good start and it was great exposure to riding in an indoor.”

 Elle Boyd with Jack Towell

Elle Boyd with Jack Towell

Elle Boyd made her debut at indoors in the Small Pony Hunters aboard Hershey’s Kiss.

“She didn’t get any ribbons but the learning and mileage was so valuable,” said Liza. “In one class, she petered out to the first jump and the pony stopped. Elle kicked her on and finished really well. When she came out of the ring, she said, ‘She taught me a lesson. I was going too slow.’ I thought that was so cute! Most kids would be crying or mad at the pony, but she has such a good attitude. For me, that’s better than a ribbon! She also remembered her courses and was brave. It was a great first experience for her. at indoors.”

Posted on October 13, 2018 .

Liza Boyd Repeats $10,000 WCHR Pro Finals Victory at Capital Challenge

 Liza Boyd earns the World Championship Hunter Rider Pro Finals title for the second consecutive year and her third time overall. Credit: Shawn McMillen Photography

Liza Boyd earns the World Championship Hunter Rider Pro Finals title for the second consecutive year and her third time overall. Credit: Shawn McMillen Photography

Professional hunter competition wrapped up Friday, October 5, at the Capital Challenge Horse Show with the heralded $10,000 World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Professional Finals. In her sixth time in the class and marking her third win, Liza Boyd, of Camden, South Carolina, came out in first in the three-phase class that puts top hunter professionals in a head-to-head competition to earn the title World Champion Hunter Rider.

Amanda Steege, Scott Stewart, Victoria Colvin, Jenny Karazissis, Sandra Ferrell and Liza Boyd contested the prestigious class on Friday night. In the new Pro Finals format, which includes Playoffs and Finals, the riders would advance through two Playoff rounds with the score from the first round of the WCHR Professional Challenge, held on Wednesday, counting as the Round One score of the Playoffs.

Friday evening kicked off with the Round 2 of the Playoffs in which the six riders competed over a handy course on a horse of their choosing. Boyd, Stewart, Steege and Colvin earned the top scores after Rounds 1 and 2 to continue on to the Final Four, where they all rode each of the four evenly matched horses that were donated by Claiborne Bishop/The Barracks and University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia.

"Horse 1 and 2, I was pretty calm and relaxed. Horse 3, I started getting a little more nervous when I trotted in and they said I was in the lead," said Boyd. "On the fourth horse, Scott went so well on the bay horse before me. As I was at the gate, I said to my dad, 'I really have to go for it.' And he said, 'Be careful that you don't go for it too much that you mess up.' That was a pretty good thing to say. I just tried to work off some pace but not get too risky. It's a great feeling; it's exciting. I'm glad my husband Blake and my daughter Elle are here to experience it with me."

Boyd was able to defend her title after earning her spot in the class when John French opted out of participating.

"I have to thank John French for the win," she continued. "I wouldn't be here if it weren't for John. So thank you John, I appreciate it!"

She went first in the final four rounds, riding Falcon, who ended up being the highest-scoring horse with scores of 92.33, 90, 91.33 and 93.5 with Boyd, Steege, Colvin, and Stewart respectively, and the recipient of the Far West Farm Perpetual Trophy.

Boyd maintained her lead from the first round, gaining ground with each new horse and earning a total four-round score of 366.82 (92.33, 89.33, 91.66, 93.50).

Approximately 5 points behind Boyd was 19-time competitor Scott Stewart who is no stranger to the title World Championship Hunter Rider, having earned it six times previously. Having participated so many times, Stewart appreciated the change in format for 2018.

 Liza Boyd earned a score of 92.3 aboard Falcon, the high-scoring horse, donated by Claiborne Bishop/The Barracks and University of Virginia. Credit: Shawn McMillen Photography

Liza Boyd earned a score of 92.3 aboard Falcon, the high-scoring horse, donated by Claiborne Bishop/The Barracks and University of Virginia. Credit: Shawn McMillen Photography

"I liked the new format; it was actually really fun," said Stewart. "Going in the first round on our own horse in the handy gave us a good shot to do our best. I thought all of the horses were great. They were all different, but hunters. It made for a good class."

In third place and in her third time competing in the class, Amanda Steege only knew the class in its old format, but she was pleased with her rounds and the new format. She earned her place in the class on Lafitte De Muze, owned by Cheryl Olsten, on whom she won the Pro Challenge earlier in the week.

"I had a great time," she said. "I was much more relaxed this time doing the class than I was the first couple years I got to do it. It was fun; the horses went great. I'm very thankful to The Barracks for letting us use them."

Victoria Colvin finished fourth in her second time competing in the Pro Finals, after securing her spot in the final four aboard Airport 48, owned by John and Stephanie Ingram LLC.

"I always really wanted to do this class when I was a junior, so to be able to just compete in it is wonderful," she said. "After my second round, I knew I was going to be [fourth] anyways, so then I just had fun. It actually worked out."

The riders navigated courses set by Ken Krome, and the class was adjudicated by three panels of judges: Rick Fancher and Scott Hofstetter on Panel 1, Mark Jungherr and Jim Clapperton on Panel 2, Tony Sgarlata and Chris Wynne on Panel 3.

Press release courtesy of the USHJA.

Posted on October 6, 2018 .

Fantastic Finishes at Aiken Fall Festival

 Elly Ficca and Cleopatra’s Smile

Elly Ficca and Cleopatra’s Smile

The Aiken Fall Festival Horse Shows, held at Bruce's Field in Aiken, South Carolina, proved to a show to remember. In addition to garnering many championships and blue ribbons, success also came in new sections and competition.

 Maggie Hill with Charmeur and Liza Boyd with Justified

Maggie Hill with Charmeur and Liza Boyd with Justified

Junior rider Maggie Hill took on the professionals in the $15,000 William Howard Memorial National Hunter Derby and made her presence known with the second-placed ribbon aboard Charmeur.

Only Hunt Tosh could top Hill's score, and Maggie even topped her own trainer, Liza Boyd, who placed fifth riding Kelly Maloney's Justified.

"This was such a great class," said Liza. "Maggie went in there and rode great. She beat me and Hunt, on his other horse, and professionals Tim Maddrix and Daniel Geitner. It was super fun to watch her and cheer her on."

For Liza, the pink ribbon was especially meaningful because it was Justified's first Hunter Derby after many years spent in the Jumper ring.

"This always happens with Kelly Maloney," said Liza, laughing. "She purchased Fieona as a 5-year-old, who then became our 'family' horse. My brother Hardin and I showed her in the Jumpers and Hunter Derbies, and then she became Kelly's Adult Jumper. Then, she bred and raised Justified, who has been super successful in the Jumpers. Then, at the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show this summer, our friend Alison Thorpe needed a horse to show. So, we braided her and Alison showed her in the Adult Hunters and got some great scores.”

At Aiken, Justified earned top prizes in the Performance Working Hunters before her derby debut.


“I rode her in one of her first horse shows and wondered if she might be a derby horse,” Liza recalled. “But they said she wasn’t sharp enough with her front end. It’s interesting how horses evolve and change over the years, and now she jerks her knees. You never know what you have in your barn until you try!”

Maggie also impressed the judges in the equitation ring, winning the WIHS Overall, Jumper and Hunter Phase, the ASPCA Maclay and the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal classes aboard For Side VDL. She and Cassanto also topped the Junior Hunter Classic.

Elly Ficca and Cleopatra’s Smile won three of the four over fences classes to capture the 3’6” Junior Hunter championship, while Sawyer and Liz Devor captured the Adult Amateur, 18-35, championship.

 Erin McGuire and Kasarr

Erin McGuire and Kasarr

Erin McGuire and Kasarr continued on collecting impressive accolades this year, winning the $5,000 Aiken Saddlery Welcome Stake.

Reserve championship honors went to Gigi Manigault with Bastille in the 3’3” Juniors, Maggie with Cassanto and Tradition in the 3’6” Junior Hunters and McKenzie Miller with Otis Spunkmeyer in the Opportunity Crossrails.

Hurricane Florence took aim on the Carolinas during Week 2, so the show was canceled. Thankfully, Finally Farm in Camden was spared from the worst of the storm. “We brought the horses home and kept riding,” said Liza. “One day we had high winds, and one day we had rain, so we basically did barn chores. We cleaned out tack trunks and laughed at what we found! ‘Has this expired? Yes, it’s from 2007!’ It was spring cleaning in the fall.”

Posted on September 20, 2018 .

Liza Boyd Captures Second and Third in the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship

 Liza Boyd and Clemens, with owner Ann Misenheimer, daughter Elle Boyd, groom Alberto Ramirez and trainer Jack Towell.

Liza Boyd and Clemens, with owner Ann Misenheimer, daughter Elle Boyd, groom Alberto Ramirez and trainer Jack Towell.

It's impressive to jump around to scores in the 90s in the $289,730 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship, but Liza Boyd not only did that once, but twice. Aboard Clemens and Tradition, Liza mastered the Classic and Handy Round courses August 16-17 to claim $56,578, the most prize money earned by any rider in the Championship at the Kentucky Horse Park.

“I was so proud of both of my horses,” said Liza, who earned $32,009 with Clemens and $24,569 with Tradition. “They’re both 3’9” Green horses, and they stepped up to the plate."

In the end, Liza finished behind defending champion Tori Colvin aboard Brad Wolf's Private Practice.

 Liza Boyd and Clemens

Liza Boyd and Clemens

But when Liza, the only three-time Championship winner (aboard Brunello), entered the ring  for the Handy Hunter round aboard the first of her two entries, Clemens, owned by Finally Farm and Westerly Farm, she knew she had to be at the top of her game to claim a substantial check.

One of the challenges on the Handy course was the in-and-out, vertical-to-vertical option was one weighing on many riders' minds. 

"I had enough things to stress about, so I just let Jack [Towell] tell me what to do [on that one]," said Liza. "He had helped Daisy Farish earlier in the Derby Challenge. They had something similar. However, he had a big long speech about how it worked out for Daisy, so I just listened to what he said and didn't stress. So thank you, Jack."

She went on to earn base scores of 91, 92 and 89 with 29 bonus points with Clemens.

 Liza Boyd and Tradition

Liza Boyd and Tradition

Then, she returned to the ring on Maggie Hill's Tradition and delivered another solid round, earning 27 bonus points and base scores of 87.75, 91 and 90 for a two-day total of 584.25 and a third-placed finish overall. 

“I would definitely like to thank my blacksmith, Ian Currey, and Scott Pool, my home blacksmith,” said Liza, “because Clemens pulled not one, but two shoes in the schooling area before the class—one at one end of the ring and one at the other before the round.

 Liza Boyd and Tradition with owner Maggie Hill.

Liza Boyd and Tradition with owner Maggie Hill.

“I said, ‘Let’s just go barefoot! He’s telling me something. He’s trying to tell me he doesn’t want shoes anymore.’ I jumped four jumps, and my vet, Diane Schiereck, was out there: ‘Put the shoes on!’ So it was a good comic relief for me. And I’d like to thank Ann Misenheimer and Tom Hill, the owners of my horses,” Liza added.

Liza was particularly pleased with Tradition, who had competed in just one derby at Blowing Rock [North Carolina] before contesting the Derby Championship. "We did the premium entry option so he could compete here. He impressed me so much tonight,” she said. 

Ann Misenheimer, of Unionville, Pennsylvania, partnered with the Towells to purchase Clemens in the spring of 2017. Last year, she watched Clemens compete in the Derby Challenge, and this year she was on hand to escort the 8-year-old Oldenburg (Clemence—Diana) into the ring for the Championship awards.

“He’s come along so quickly, and I have to say I have nothing to do with it. I just get to come and applaud!” said Misenheimer. “I’m so lucky to be able to be an owner. We had been looking for a derby horse for a long time, and we were lucky enough to find him. They knew he was the horse for the job, but things happen over time, and so to be here tonight …  I give them all the credit and their staff. And it was so wonderful to win the Shapley’s Best Turned Out Award.

“Also, coming in second to my friend Brad Wolf was really fun,” noted Misenheimer, who used to compete against Wolf in the Amateur-Owners. “We had dinner last night together. I think that really made it extra special.”

Since 2008, the USHJA International Hunter Derby Program has paid out more than $12.3 million. This year 279 horses were enrolled in the program from more than 32 states and Canada.

 Jack Towell enjoyed his horses' performances!

Jack Towell enjoyed his horses' performances!

Clemens and Boyd were presented with this year's Shapley's Best Turned Out Award. Sally Stith-Burdette was on hand to present groom Alberto Ramirez with a Shapley's Awards Package.

Liza also rode Bridget Hallman's Halston to impressive performances in the 3'/3'3" Green Hunter Incentive Championship, including 16th in Round 1 and 19th in the Championship Round for earnings of $1,486. 

Tradition also placed fifth in the 3'6"/3'9" Green Hunter Incentive Championship Round, while Clemens finished 11th.

 Liza Boyd, fourth from left, was recognized with the other winners of the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship (from left, John French, Hunt Tosh, Jennifer Alfano, Kristy Herrera and Tor Colvin) during the event's 10-year celebration.

Liza Boyd, fourth from left, was recognized with the other winners of the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship (from left, John French, Hunt Tosh, Jennifer Alfano, Kristy Herrera and Tor Colvin) during the event's 10-year celebration.

Clemens in the USHJA International Hunter Derby and Green Hunter Incentive Championships


Tradition in the USHJA International Hunter Derby and Green Hunter Incentive Championships


Halston in the USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship

Posted on August 27, 2018 .

Finally Farm Enjoys Family, Friends and Fun at Blowing Rock

 Liza Boyd and Clemens

Liza Boyd and Clemens

The Finally Farm team, family and friends enjoyed their annual trek to the Blowing Rock Horse Show in North Carolina in July, where in addition to enjoying this traditional and unique show, they also spent quality time together outside the ring.

“This show is always a highlight of our summer. It’s such a special horse show,” said trainer Liza Boyd. “It’s just two rings, which is nice. I’m not running from ring to ring. Yes, the days are long, but we have time between classes, and it has an old-fashioned feel and it’s a great change of pace.

 Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show

Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show

“There’s something about that mountain air that gives everyone energy,” Liza continued. “And we always have so much fun. We have a ritual on Monday, when we go with the Tosh and Geitner families and go canoeing. Being on the lake and bumping canoes and laughing and fishing is so fun. And we have a big lunch afterwards. It’s always great!”

Liza’s time at Blowing Rock was also rewarding, as she guided Clemens to multiple honors, including victory in the USHJA International Hunter Derby during Week 2, to win the Diane Ward Memorial Trophy, and to championship honors in the 3’9” Green Hunters during Week 1.

“Clemens had two great weeks. The first week he got 88s and above in every class and was second in the Challenge of Champions. Then, we did the High Performance Week 2 to jump a little higher, and he was fantastic,” she said.

 Maggie Hill receives the Casallo Trophy

Maggie Hill receives the Casallo Trophy

In the first round of the International Hunter Derby, Liza said Clemens was a bit playful, putting him third going into the Handy Round. When Liza returned for the second round, she planned to go for the win.

“As it turned out, there were some pretty hard inside turns, and Daniel Geitner, who came back before me, did them all,” said Liza. “So, I was like, ‘OK we’re in third, so I need to take the risk.’ Plus, it was good practice. Not being on top, my plan was to go all the way, or if we made a mistake, either one of us, it would be a good prep for the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships. In the end, we just squeaked out the win.” 

Julie Curtin and Cassico also moved up to place second behind Liza and Clemens. “Julie had the same philosophy, and she went for it in the Handy. I went right after her and watched her do the inside turns. I never would have considered doing those hard turns during the course walk, but once Daniel did them and got 10 bonus points we all had to follow. The girl who was leading didn’t do them, so it paid off and moved Julie and I up.”

 Elly Ficca and Cleopatra's Smile

Elly Ficca and Cleopatra's Smile

Liza always uses Blowing Rock’s Derby as a preparation for Kentucky in August since the derby also runs as an evening/night class and has atmosphere. In addition, this year Liza’s husband Blake, her brother Ned and friend Jim Breedlove offered a free fish fry in memory of Pauline Russell. 

“When do you ever have a fish fry during a derby?” asked Liza laughing. “It was an energetic crowd for sure, eating fish and drinking beer to honor Pauline. With the cool mountain air and a big party, there was a lot of atmosphere for the horses. It’s a completely different ring from the huge arena in Kentucky but good prep nonetheless.”  

Liza was also proud of the Finally Farm juniors who also tackled the International Derby, with Libbie Gordon riding Shamrock to seventh in their first International Derby together, and Maggie Hill and Charmeur placing ninth and Elly Ficca and Cleopatra’s Smile taking 11th. 

 Libbie Gordon, Alberto Ramirez and Shamrock

Libbie Gordon, Alberto Ramirez and Shamrock

“The high options were high, and they all made the second round after doing the low options,” she said. “I was so proud of how forward and confident they all rode.”

Maggie and Elly will also compete in the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship in Kentucky after having a wonderful Blowing Rock experience.

Maggie received the Joan Ellis Goodwin Memorial Trophy and the Bill Daily Perpetual Memorial Trophy for Best Child Rider on a Horse during Weeks 1 and 2, while Elly received the Joan Ellis Goodwin Memorial Trophy Best Child Hunter Rider Week 2. Maggie and Cassanto received the Lyrik Trophy for Overall Grand Champion Junior Hunter and the Cassalo Trophy for Grand Champion Large Junior Hunter, while Elly and Cleopatra’s Smile receive the Elizabeth Crockett Luczak Trophy Grand Champion Small Junior Hunter.

Libbie was also reserve champion in the Junior Hunters the first week with Shamrock and third in the Junior Hunter Classic. “They all had a great two weeks of showing with their hunters, and I was thrilled how everyone rode,” said Liza.

Maggie also continued getting to know her jumper Hope in Children’s Jumpers with top placings and earned excellent ribbons in the equitation with For Side VDL, including victory in the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal, the WIHS Overall, Hunter and Jumper phases and the THIS National Children’s Medal. 

Libbie was consistent both weeks with Shamrock and also competed in the Low Children’s Jumpers, where she earned great ribbons with Can Do.

“By doing the Hunters, Jumpers and derbies, these girls are getting so much good exposure,” said Liza. “We have a super strong group of junior riders right now, and I’m thrilled with their progress and the hard work they’ve put in.”

 Abbie Gordon and Jack Towell with Robin Greenwood's Nominee

Abbie Gordon and Jack Towell with Robin Greenwood's Nominee

Liza was also proud of her 3’3” Junior riders, including Gigi Manigault who earned great ribbons on Bastille as well as Cassiana, the jumper she’s leasing from Stella Styslinger.

In the ponies, Abbie Gordon continued her tricolor run. She was reserve champion on her Medium Show Me Love the first week and then catch rode Robin Greenwood’s Nominee to the Large Pony Hunter championship the second week. “She’d never done the larges, so that was wonderful. She’s come a long way,” said Liza. 

Liza was happy for her daughter Elle, who continues to gain mileage in the Small Pony Hunters aboard Hershey’s Kiss. “She got some ribbons, and being third to Maddie Tosh is like winning! Maddie’s a great little rider. Elle was fifth and seventh in the classics, against all the ponies, so that was fun for her.” 

Mackenzie Miller leased Elle’s Otis Spunkmeyer and showed in Walk-Trot-Canter, where she earned the reserve championship. Mackenzie’s mother Paige Miller guided Lavasco to ribbons in the Adult Amateurs, so it was a great two weeks for the mother-daughter duo. “I’m proud of Mackenzie and happy that Otis is able to teach another young rider the ropes,” said Liza. 

Liza’s husband, Blake, took his trail horse Joe to Blowing Rock so the family could enjoy some fun trail time together. Barn manager Alberto Ramirez also took Joe for a spin. “No one knew he was such a good rider!” said Liza laughing. “Katie Wood said, ‘Oh no! I’m going to lose my job!’” 

In the Large Ponies, Clara Saad rode Fox Creek’s Cavalier to excellent ribbons in preparation for the USEF Pony Finals. “We wish her good luck there!” added Liza. 

In the Adult Amateur Hunters, Finally Farm collected many ribbons. Alison Thorpe showed Kelly Maloney’s Justified and Liz Fogleman competed her own Sawyer. In addition, Kelly guided Fieona to solid performances and ribbons in the Low Children’s/Adult Jumpers, while Sarah Isgett jumped to double clears in the same section with Killarney.  

 Erin McGuire and Kasarr

Erin McGuire and Kasarr

As usual, Erin McGuire and Kasarr were hard to beat—winning the Open Jumper Welcome Stake during Week 1 and placing a close second in the L.P. Tate Jumper Classic during Week 2. “She always rides great and so efficient and fast in the jump-offs. They have a wonderful partnership together.” 

In preparation for the USHJA Championships, Bridget Hallman sent Halston to Blowing Rock to gain more ring time. “In the last class in the 3’3” Greens, we scored an 88 and won, so Halston ended in excellent form,” said Liza. “And she sent him back to Camden for me to ride before going to Kentucky, so we’ll be as prepared as possible.” 

After taking a break, Zola Thompson returned to Finally Farm and showed the first week aboard Fonteyn HS in the Low Children’s Hunters, where the picked up some great ribbons. “It was fun to have her back in the barn!” said Liza. 

Posted on August 8, 2018 .

Two Towell Generations Star at Tryon Summer III


Elle Boyd and her uncle, Hardin Towell, both made the Finally Farm family especially proud during the Tryon Summer III, held June 27-July 1 in Mill Spring, North Carolina.

Elle guided Hershey’s Kiss to second-placed honors in the USHJA Pony Hunter Derby, while Hardin piloted Ann Thompson’s Carlo to the red ribbon in the $70,000 Adequan Grand Prix CSI 2*. Both classes were featured events held at the Tryon International Equestrian Center.

“Our parents (Jack and Lisa Towell) were on a Baltic Sea vacation, so I was fortunate to have my brother Hardin here to help me with the jumpers,” said trainer Liza Boyd. “Hardin stepped in and took Jack’s place, and we had a lot of fun.”

Thirty-eight horse-and-rider pairs tested the Ken Krome-designed grand prix track on Saturday night, with seven pairs returning to prove themselves over the short course. Hardin and the 12-year-old, Holsteiner gelding (Casall x Landlord) claimed second place honors, stopping the jump-off timers in 38.60 seconds, just behind Sydney Shulman riding Ardente Printaniere.

 Elle Boyd and Maddie Tosh

Elle Boyd and Maddie Tosh

After cheering on her uncle Saturday night, Elle returned to the ring aboard the Small Pony Hershey’s Kiss on Sunday for a stellar performance in the Pony Derby. This was her derby debut and the first time she donned a shadbelly.

 Elle Boyd and Hershey's Kiss

Elle Boyd and Hershey's Kiss

“She was so good and so cute, and I’m really proud of her,” said her mother, Liza. “To remember the courses and do the bending lines, rollbacks and trot jumps was great. I don’t remember doing that when I was a kid! And the trust she has in that cute little pony is amazing.” 

Liza said Elle also had fun showing in the George H. Morris Stadium on Saturday, the first time she’d ridden in Tryon’s “big ring.” In the derby, Elle was second to Maddie Tosh, the daughter of professional rider Hunt Tosh.

“It made me laugh to stand at the ring with Hunt. Over the years, we’ve competed against one another and been first and second so many times, and now our kids are coming along and doing the same thing! Hunt and I were standing at the in-gate and taking the photos now. It was so great!” said Liza laughing.

Sisters Abbie and Libbie Gordon continued the family theme, earning tricolor honors at Tryon. Abbie guided Show Me Love to the Medium Pony Hunter championship, while Libbie collected the 3’6” Junior Hunter reserve championship and won the Junior Hunter Classic aboard Shamrock.



“Abbie rode great and enjoyed showing in the big stadium,” said Liza. “It was a good experience for the pony riders to show in that huge stadium and so exciting. Libbie did a great job with Shamrock, too, and won the classic with a high score of 86.”

In the jumpers, Kelly Maloney and Fieona earned excellent ribbons in the 1.15m Non-Pro section, as did Maggie Hill riding Hope. 

“It was cool that Hardin was there to help Kelly. The last time he rode Fieona was six years ago in a grand prix, and then I showed her in the Hunter Derbies. Kelly bought her as a 5-year-old and was so generous to the let the Towell kids show and train her. And, now, she’s finally able to enjoy her!” 

Maggie bought Hope from Hardin earlier this year and has spent the past few months learning the ropes in the jumpers. “It was fortunate Hardin was here to help her this week,” said Liza. “She’s really clicking with this mare and learning to make tighter turns. It was really fun to see that and how much potential they have to grow together. Maggie will be able to move all the way up to the High Juniors with her, eventually.”

University of South Carolina student Sarah Isgett returned to train with Finally Farm and enjoyed excellent performances with Killarney in the Low Adult Jumpers.

 Show Me Love

Show Me Love

“We’re so happy to have her back for the summers,” said Liza. “Sarah’s main goal is to stay riding and in the show ring so when she goes back to school she’s ready for the intercollegiate competitions. We practice walking the courses and doing the numbers, like in an equitation course, to keep her tuned up for the college shows.” 

Sarah Livingston and Ne-Yo earned excellent ribbons in the 3’3” Junior Hunters, as did Gigi Manigault riding Bastille. 

Gigi also continued to develop her new partnership with Cassiana during Tryon and had nice rounds in the Low Children’s Jumpers, while Libbie Gordon took the reins on Hardin’s Can Do, learning the jumpers and having fun.

Liza guided Maggie Hill’s Tradition to the 3’9” Green Hunter championship during their first outing at that height. Liza’s plan is to qualify Tradition for the USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship at Kentucky in August. “Then, our ultimate goal is to make him up into a derby horse and for him to be Maggie’s derby horse,” said Liza. “He’s super brave and scopey, and I think that’s where he’s going to shine.”

In the Adult Amateur Hunters, Joann Loheac’s Chestnut Avenue jumped to championship honors in the 50 and over section with Lisa Baugh. The pair won three of the four over fences classes for an impressive point total and also topped the WIHS/NAL Adult Hunter, 36 and over, Classic. “We were excited to have him back and to help Lisa. She’s always fun to work with,” said Liza.

Lavasco and Paige Miller also took home great ribbons in the Adult Amateur Hunters, with consistent performances in the 36-49 section.  

 Adeline and Elle Boyd

Adeline and Elle Boyd

Posted on July 2, 2018 .

Accolades and Enjoyment at Country Heir


The Finally Farm team made the Kentucky bluegrass state a home away from home for two weeks during the Country Heir Horse Shows, held June 6-17 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

Barn manager Katie Wood chronicled the experience on her Instagram feed, with her lead-off photo describing what proved to be what many thought of their time: Kentucky for two weeks #nocomplaintshere #luckyisanunderstatement#countryheir #cassiana @finally_farm @equifit1

“We had a wonderful two weeks in Kentucky,” said trainer Liza Boyd. “There were so many highlights, but certainly spending time riding out on the cross-country course and showing in their beautiful rings were two of them.”

Finally Farm chose to attend Country Heir, in part, to give some of their horses an opportunity to experience the Kentucky Horse Park before the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship and the Green Incentive Championship later this summer. 

In preparation, Clemens tackled the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby during Week 2. After being a bit under the weather during Week 1, Clemens returned to the show ring and placed an impressive second. 

“Fortunately, one of the head veterinarians at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute came out and scoped and ultrasounded him. We put him on some medications, gave him eight days off, and he got better and better and felt great," said Liza. "I’m so glad we took the time to get to the bottom of it, and I was happy we were here in Lexington to access specialists in gastrointestinal treatments.” 

During Week 2, the Derby was held in the Walnut Ring rather than the Rolex Stadium, but Liza said it was still challenging for the horses, with big walls, impressive fences and use of the natural terrain.  

“The courses were very technical, and we had the canter up the hill and jump a jump on top and canter down the ledge, five strides to an oxer,” she said. “Clemens has come a long way, and he was ready for that challenge. I was really impressed with him.”

Liza and Clemens were tied for first after the Classic Round with Tim Maddrix aboard Indecision, but during the Handy Round Maddrix pulled ahead to win. 

“I was thrilled with second; Clemens went beautifully,” said Liza. “He had a stumble before the trot jump, which happens, but it was a good class for him. Tim rode great, and I was happy to be second. There were nice horses, and it was plenty hard.” 

Country Heir also marked the first time Liza took Clemens in a 1.10m jumper class, which was the strategy she used over many years to prep her famous Brunello for the derby classes. 

“He was ready for that challenge,” said Liza. “He’s done a lot this spring and early summer, and now he can take all that he’s learned and have some easy weeks before we gear up for Blowing Rock in North Carolina and the Derby Championships back here in Kentucky.” 

Liza was also impressed with Clemens’ fortitude and confidence. He pulled a shoe after the first fence in the Classic Round but never missed a beat. 

“He just stepped out of the shoe, and I almost pulled up but then thought, ‘Gosh, I don’t want to miss another derby.' But he jumped the next jump well, so I aimed for the next high option, and he jumped it perfect, so I kept going. He did the whole course with one shoe and didn’t care. That showed me he has the heart, and I’m really proud of him for that.”

 Elle Boyd and Hershey's Kiss

Elle Boyd and Hershey's Kiss

Liza was also proud of her daughter, Elle, who made her debut in the Small Pony Hunters with Hershey’s Kiss. During Week 1, the pair scored an 87 for a well-earned blue ribbon, and they also won the Pony Hunter Classic.

“She was so good! She’s really learning her handy classes so well now,” said Liza. “She’s super excited for the rest of the summer to do the Small Ponies.”

After shining at Devon in the Junior Hunters, Maggie Hill spent some valuable time in the Rolex Stadium in Kentucky gaining more experience in the jumpers aboard her new mount, Hope.  

“That mare is so lovely, and they’re trusting in each other and showing in these different environments,” said Liza. "They are really solidifying their partnership, and that's fantastic."

 Elly Ficca and Cleopatra's Smile

Elly Ficca and Cleopatra's Smile

Maggie also tied for the reserve championship in the Small Junior Hunters aboard O’Ryan and earned excellent ribbons with Cassanto, her Devon Large Junior champion, during the second week. In addition, Maggie was eighth in the USHJA National Hunter Derby in the Walnut Ring aboard Charmeur. 

Elly Ficca continued her winning streak aboard Cleopatra’s Smile, with reserve championship honors in the Junior Hunters. The pair also placed 12th in the USHJA International Hunter Derby. “I think she was the only junior to qualify for the Handy Round. She was just coming off of a confident Devon, and she sticking in there with good results!” said Liza.

Bridget Hallman also collected her fair share of ribbons as a rider and owner. Her Halston showed just Week 2 and scored a 91 with Liza aboard in the Green Hunters. They also placed sixth in the $10,000 Joey Darby Memorial Green Hunter Challenge. 

“Halston is coming along nicely, and Bridget did so well herself. She won a class both weeks in the 3’6” Amateur-Owners on Gala. We also helped Daisy Farish, who scored an 89 in both rounds of WIHS and won that class riding Bridget’s Capitano. He’s a hunter turned equitation horse, and Heritage did a lovely job turning him into equitation horse this winter in Florida. He’s for a sale and ready to be a star in that ring," said Liza.

Sisters Abbie and Lizzie Gordon also continued their successful summer show season. Libbie earned reserve championship honors on Small Romance in the Large Pony section and also won great ribbons on Shamrock in the Junior Hunters, scoring several 84s for second- and third-placed ribbons. Abbie was second in the Pony Hunter Classic the first week on Show Me Love and got nice ribbons in the Mediums both weeks in very competitive sections. 

Amy Nolan showed only during Week 2 but made it count, earning the reserve championship in the 3’3” Amateur-Owner Hunters with Caruba. Ellen Addison also received good ribbons aboard El Tiendo in the same section. 

Karen Lackinger’s Gratis produced consistent rounds in the very large and competitive 3’3” Green Hunter section and was ninth in the $10,000 Joey Darby Memorial Challenge with Liza in the irons.

Finally Farm would also like to congratulate Gigi Manigault on the lease of Cassiana from Stella Styslinger. They started in the Low Children’s Jumpers and will steadily move up the levels. “They are such a cute pair, and I’m so happy for Gigi,” said Liza. “She also had nice ribbons in the 3’3” Juniors on Bastille.” 

Congratulations also to Erin McGuire and Kasarr for placing second in the $8,000 NAL Low Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic. 

 Liz Fogleman and Sawyer

Liz Fogleman and Sawyer

Liz Fogleman and Sawyer further solidified their partnership and earned a reserve championship during Week 1 in the Adult Amateur Hunter, 18-35, section. “We were super excited for her,” said Liza. “They are really putting it all together.” 

Posted on June 26, 2018 .

It's Devon Blues For Finally Farm

 Maggie Hill with trainer Jack Towell and Cassanto

Maggie Hill with trainer Jack Towell and Cassanto

There’s nothing like a Devon blue, and for the Finally Farm team they came in abundance during Junior Weekend, held May 24-27 in Devon, Pennsylvania. 

Maggie Hill, competing at her first Devon Horse Show, captured the Large Junior, 15 and under, championship. In the weeks leading up to the show, trainer Liza Boyd offered Maggie some words of wisdom that carried through.

“I knew she was getting nervous a few weeks before Devon. When she made a mistake, she would say, ‘What are we going to do? Devon’s coming up!’ I told her, ‘Let’s not focus on Devon. This is your first Devon, and you might not get even one ribbon. You have the rest of your life to go to Devon, so try to focus on riding well and leave Devon happy with how you rode and how your horses went.’” 


The Sunday before Devon, in a schooling ring in Tryon, Liza pulled Maggie aside and told her, “I believe in you and know you can do well at Devon but go there and be happy. Be happy just getting a ribbon of any color. Some people take a long time to get a Devon blue. I think that took the pressure off, and she arrived relaxed,” said Liza. 

Maggie began her Devon debut aboard Charmeur and received her first ribbon on the first day with a fourth in a section of the Dover Saddlery/USEF Medal. That confidence boost set the stage. As the Junior Hunters began on Friday, Liza could see that Maggie was riding confidently.

“By the time she got on O’Ryan, she’d been in the Main Ring a few times. O’Ryan is a great ‘Steady Eddie’ and went so well,” said Liza of Maggie’s Small Junior Hunter. “They earned low ribbons, and then in her first class on Cassanto she was fifth. She ended up with two nice ribbons and was happy. Not a primary. But it was a great start.”

Maggie returned the second day and was on fire. She placed second aboard O’Ryan and won both over fences classes on Cassanto. 

“Maggie got better and better each round and more relaxed,” said Liza. “By the last round I was thinking I’d never seen her so relaxed and calm. It was due to her hard work and dedication as well as her supportive parents and these two great horses. 

“I have to commend the Finally Farm team, as well. Katie (Wood) really has to be credited. She knows how to prepare both horses and gets them just perfect. Alberto Ramirez got there at 3 a.m. to get a good longeing spot, and for his thorough care in keeping these horses healthy, sound and comfortable. Diane Schiereck does the body work, which makes the difference between an 84 and 88. They feel so good.”

Liza also believes her training partnership with her father, Jack Towell, makes a huge difference in the preparation and the results their riders achieve.

“It’s really developed into a wonderful symbiosis,” said Liza. “Jack has the judge’s perspective and goes over the courses and the handy tracks. Then, I get on in the schooling area first to get the horses sharp and tell Maggie what I feel. So, she receives feedback from both of us. Jack on what the judges would like to see, and because I ride and show them I can tell Maggie exactly what I feel at that moment. It’s a great team.”

 Abbie Gordon and Farmore State Of The Art with trainers Liza Boyd and Jack Towell

Abbie Gordon and Farmore State Of The Art with trainers Liza Boyd and Jack Towell

Liza and Jack followed that same routine with Abbie and Libbie Gordons’s ponies, Farmore State Of The Art, Small Wonder and Pacific Blue. 

Liza rode Farmore State Of The Art in the schooling area and focused on what might help Abbie navigate the ring, keeping him straight and moving forward. Their teamwork paid off, as Abbie and her Small Pony won an over fences class on the first day and placed second in the stake class. Libbie also picked up ribbons aboard Pacific Blue and Small Wonder in the Large Pony section. Abbie also won the Small Pony Hunt Teams with her teammates, riding to the “Top Gun” theme.

For Abbie, Devon was bittersweet. She’s on the verge of outgrowing Farmore State Of The Art and not renewing the lease, so Liza and Jack spent time talking to her and lightening the mood during the course of the show. 

“Jack told her some funny stories and little things that helped her,” said Liza. “It’s hard to lose the love of your life, but in the end, she rode beautifully and scored an 88. It was her best round and a huge accomplishment to win at Devon.”

Libbie is also transitioning after Devon and moving out of the ponies, so her ribbons were meaningful, as well. “She just leased a Children’s Jumper named Athletic Lady. She’s a really cute mare, and we’re looking forward to a fun summer with her and then Shamrock in the Junior Hunters,” said Liza. 

 Elly Ficca and Cleopatra's Smile with trainer Jack Towell

Elly Ficca and Cleopatra's Smile with trainer Jack Towell

Elly Ficca was on the standby list for Devon and only found out she’d be going the night before the horses left for the show. But she made the most of her opportunity with Cleopatra’s Smile, winning the first over fences class, placing second in the stake and earning the reserve championship in the Small Junior, 16-17, section.

“It was really close. The mare hasn’t done the Juniors for very long,” said Liza smiling. “Elly was so confident and rode that mare so well. She’s such a great jumper and kicks up so well behind. They’re a great match and kind of meant to be together. I’m so happy for her. It’s her last junior year and to get to go to Devon and win was great.”

Jack and Liza also welcomed the Peacock family back to Finally Farm. They trained Parker Peacock and Glenhaven Astoria to ribbons in the Small Pony section. “She had nice scores in the 80s, and I’m really proud of her,” said Liza. “Her mom, Ashley, rode with us before, so it’s great to have them back.”

Liza credited trainer Lynn Caristo Forgione for all of her support behind the scenes. “Lynn goes to the Peacocks’ and the Gordons’ farms at least once a week and does lessons with them. And then she calls me and goes over what they’re working on, so I want to thank her. She’s not here in the glory, but her hard work is evident.” 

Speaking of hard work, Liza also noted that such a successful Devon doesn’t come without dedication.

“We have a wonderful group of kids. They show and practice more than most,” she said. “All of these kids went to Tryon and lessoned beforehand. They’re extremely dedicated, as are they’re parents. 

“All of those bending lines at Devon were a piece of cake for them,” she continued. “We’ve been working all year at home and in Wellington and Aiken. I also credit Maggie’s and Elly’s confidence in that they did the USHJA International Hunter Derbies this spring. Those courses were similar to the stake class at Devon. They had to really nail the track, and they did it so easily. I’m so proud of all of them.”

Posted on May 31, 2018 .