Hardin Towell Claims Thrilling Victory in $87,000 GroupBy Big Ben Challenge

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November 11, 2017 - Toronto, Ontario

Hardin Towell of the United States claimed a thrilling victory in the $87,000 GroupBy Big Ben Challenge on Saturday night, November 11, to close out the CSI4*-W Royal Horse Show, held as part of the 95th Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in downtown Toronto, ON.

A sold-out crowd of more than 6,000 spectators packed the Ricoh Coliseum and were treated to show jumping sport at its finest as 23 riders challenged the final track set by 2016 Rio Olympic course designer Guilherme Jorge of Brazil. 

Eight riders, including Kent Farrington and McLain Ward, currently ranked numbers one and two on the Longines World Rider Rankings, jumped clear to advance to the all-deciding jump-off.  The night belonged to Towell, who blazed around the jump-off track with Lucifer V, breaking the timers in 38.37 seconds to snatch the win from Canada’s own François Lamontagne, 33, of St. Eustache, QC, who had stopped the clock in 40.92 seconds aboard Chanel du Calvaire.

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“This is my first time at The Royal and it was fantastic!” said Towell, 29, who also won the $35,000 Jolera International Jumper event on Tuesday, November 7, aboard another mount, New York.  “It is nice to win here because the classes are so special.  The atmosphere is amazing, and the crowd was great tonight.

“I have believed in Lucifer since I first started riding him and we really came along together,” continued Towell of the 11-year-old Westphalian gelding (Lord Dezi x Grandeur) owned by Evergate Stables that he has been paired with for four years.  “I went to my first World Cup Final with him, jumped my first five-star grand prix with him, and he has helped me get to the next level.”

Lamontagne had the Canadian crowd behind him as he gave his best effort on closing night.  For his impressive performances on home soil throughout the Royal Horse Show, Lamontagne earned the Moffat Dunlap Leading Canadian Rider Award while his mount, Chanel du Calvaire, was presented with The All-Canadian Cup as the leading Canadian-owned horse.  The All-Canadian Cup was established by the late Susan Grange and presented by the Grange family representing Lothlorien Farm of Cheltenham, ON.

“To do the international division at The Royal is a dream that I have had since I was a child,” said an ecstatic Lamontagne, 33, who is no stranger to success at the Royal Horse Show, having competed in other divisions in the past.  He topped the Jump Canada Talent Squad Final in 2011 riding Barron, a horse that Lamontagne developed and went on to win a team silver medal for the United States at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games paired with Lucy Davis.

“It was really special to show here this week,” continued Lamontagne, who also claimed the title of Reserve Canadian Show Jumping Champion on opening weekend.  “It doesn't happen often that there are so many people that come to watch show jumping, and the atmosphere was amazing tonight!”

New Zealand Olympian Sharn Wordley rounded out the top three with a double-clear performance in the Big Ben Challenge, crossing the timers in 43.61 seconds riding Barnetta, owned by Sky Group.  The defending champion of the Big Ben Challenge, Kent Farrington, settled for fourth after posting the fastest jump-off time, 36.92 seconds, but at the expense of one rail for four faults riding Creedance for owner RCG Farm.  A crowd favourite at the Royal Horse Show, three-time U.S. Olympic medalist McLain Ward took fifth place with four faults in 37.58 seconds riding his 2016 Rio Olympic partner, Double H Farm’s HH Azur, the same mount that carried him to the coveted Longines FEI World CupTM Final title in April.

Following five days of top-calibre international show jumping competition, Towell shared the Leading International Rider title with four-time U.S. Olympic medalist Beezie Madden, who enjoyed wins in the $35,000 Brickenden Trophy on Thursday riding Coach and the $50,000 Weston Canadian Open aboard Breitling LS on Friday.

“I just took the week class by class, and it is amazing to be tied with someone like Beezie Madden at the end,” said Towell of his Leading International Rider title.  “She is one of the best in the world, and the title is icing on the cake after two wins.”

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For more information on the Royal Horse Show, which returns as the marquee event of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair on November 2-11, 2018, visit www.royalfair.org/horseshow.  For a behind-the-scenes look at the Royal Horse Show, follow The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair on Facebook, @royalhorseshow on Twitter and @theroyalfair on Instagram.  Tag the Royal Horse Show using #RAWF17, #royalfever, #FEIWorldCup, #Longines, and #RideToParis.

Funding support for The Royal has been provided by the City of Toronto and the Government of Ontario.

Special thanks to Jump Media, Inc., for the press release.

$87,000 GroupBy Big Ben Challenge - Saturday, November 11

     Rider / Hometown / Horse / Faults/Time
1.  Hardin Towell / United States / Lucifer V / 0:0/38.37
2.  Francois Lamontagne / St. Eustache, QC / Chanel du Calvaire / 0:0/40.92
3.  Sharn Wordley / New Zealand / Barnetta / 0:0/43.61
4.  Kent Farrington / United States / Creedance / 0:4/36.92
5.  McLain Ward / United States / HH Azur / 0:4/37.58
6.  Daniel Coyle / Ireland / Cita / 0:4/38.75
7.  Kelli Cruciotti / United States / Hadja van Orshof / 0:4/40.74
8.  Adrienne Sternlicht / United States / Cristalline / 0:8/39.02
9.  Conor Swail / Ireland / GK Coco Chanel / 1
10.  Shane Sweetnam / Ireland / Indra van de Oude Heihoef / 4
11.  Leslie Howard / United States / Donna Speciale / 4
12. Beezie Madden / United States / Coach / 4

Posted on November 13, 2017 .

Fall Indoors is Fantastic For Finally Farm

WCHR Pro Finals Winner Liza Boyd and Stella Styslinger's O'Ryan

WCHR Pro Finals Winner Liza Boyd and Stella Styslinger's O'Ryan

From the Capital Challenge in Maryland to the National Horse Show in Kentucky, the Finally Farm clients and horses took top ribbons during the East Coast Fall Indoor show season in October and  November.

In addition to Liza Boyd's victory in the WCHR Professional Finals at the Capital Challenge, she piloted Stella Styslinger's O'Ryan to third place in the $25,000 WCHR Professional Challenge.

In the Pro Finals, where riders compete on two catch rides and then a horse of their choosing, Liza started out strongly. She earned an average score of 90 in the first round to move into the second place position, and an average score of 90.50 in the second round moved her to the top of the leaderboard where she would remain through the end of the class.

“I had a little bit of luck of the draw,” said Boyd of her second mount, Redfield Farm’s Carolino. “I got the horse that was a little bit nervous the first round for Scott (Stewart), and Scott did a beautiful job of warming him up for me. So, I kind of felt like the amateur rider that got to get on after the pro rode it around. Thank you, Scott!”

The 2017 WCHR Pro Finals was one of the most closely contested Pro Finals in recent memory, with scores in the first and second rounds just fractions apart. It was up to riders to set themselves apart aboard their own mounts in the handy round, and they each pulled out all the stops.

Liza Boyd and O'Ryan

Liza Boyd and O'Ryan

“We had to go for it in the handy. Everyone was amazing in the handy,” said Liza, who elected to ride her veteran partner O’Ryan. “I was actually probably the most nervous on O’Ryan, which I thought it was going to be the opposite going into, but I think Tori Colvin really put the pressure on us going first and doing those really, really hard turns.”

To read more about Liza's WCHR Professional Finals victory, please click here.

Elly Ficca and Quatrain also jumped to impressive performances during the Capital Challenge, taking fifth place in the WCHR 3'3" Junior Hunter Challenge and top ribbons in the section.

With the WCHR season concluding at the Capital Challenge, the Regional winners were invited into the ring for presentations. Finally Farm was well represented in the Southeast Region:

  • Junior 3'6" - First Place - Stella Styslinger
  • Junior 3'3" - First Place - Maggie Hill
  • Junior 3'3" - Second Place - Elly Ficca
  • Junior 3'3" - Fifth Place - Sarah Ekola
  • Handy - Tie First Place - Liza Boyd
  • Professional - Second Place - Liza Boyd
  • Pony - Second Place - Zola Thompson
  • Adult Amateur - Fourth Place - Megan Schall
  • Amateur-Owner, 3'3" - Sixth Place - Mary Carton Mitchener

During the Pennsylvania National, the success continued. Maggie Hill and Coco Chanel won a class in the competitive 3'3" Large Junior section and earned ribbons in every class. Elly Ficca and Quatrain also took ribbons in the 3'3" Small Juniors, while Stella Styslinger and her horses Cassanto and O'Ryan earned excellent ribbons in the 3'6" Junior Hunters.

Jack Towell celebrates!

Jack Towell celebrates!

Then it was on to the Washington International Horse Show, where trainer Jack Towell helped Stella to excellent ribbons in the Small Junior, 16-17, section with O'Ryan and in the Large Junior, 16-17, section with Cassanto, including a second place in the Stake Class.  

"Washington was a little bittersweet. It was Stella's last show as a junior, but her second place was a great round and great way to end up," said Liza. "She’s enjoying UVA, but it's a little sad that she's done with the juniors. She'll take some time off now and get back going in spring or summer as an amateur."

While Washington was going on, Liza took a contingent of horses and riders to the Tryon International Equestrian Center in North Carolina, where they enjoyed beautiful fall weather and a fun horse show.

In addition to riding her Justified in the Adult Jumpers, Kelly Maloney returned to the ring aboard her long-time partner Fieona. "We put her back in the jumper ring, and it was so much fun," said Liza. "Fieona has done the Hunter Derbies with me and the Adult Hunters, and she hadn't been a jumper in years. Kelly bought her as a 5-year-old, and she became Hardin’s grand prix horse and my derby horse. In the Adult Jumpers, she looks so happy out there. She does it like she’s cantering around the derby course with good style and going around like a hunter."

Jack Towell, Stella Styslinger and Cassanto

Jack Towell, Stella Styslinger and Cassanto

Finally Farm also welcomed new client Amy Nolan, of Wilmington, North Carolina, to the barn. She keeps her horses at home and will meet Finally Farm at the shows.

"She rode great and was champion on her horse Curuba in the Adult Amateur, 36-49, section, and she got nice ribbons on her other horse, Extra Credit. We're very excited to have her in the barn!"

Lily Bennett and Zimba continued their top performances in the Low Junior Jumpers. They placed second in every outing to earn the reserve championship.

"She was so solid in every class," said Liza. "It was tough competition and technical courses. She even had one day on international field, which was fun. She’s getting really competitive, and it’s great."

Elle Boyd and her first Classic blue ribbon!

Elle Boyd and her first Classic blue ribbon!

Likewise, Elle Boyd is showing her consistency in the show ring and won the Short Stirrup Classic with Otis Spunkmeyer.   

"It was so exciting, and I was so proud of her," said Liza. "It was a cold and windy day, and they didn’t show until 4 p.m. She had a little rough time in first class, but then she was tough. It was a long course, and I never thought she’d remember it, but she did. She rode well, and she was proud of herself! It was her first Classic and she won!"

The indoor show season culminated at the National Horse Show in Kentucky, where Quatrain and Elly Ficca starred during their final competition together. The pair won both over fences classes the first day in the 3'3" Junior Hunters and ultimately earned the reserve championship.

"How exciting it was that Elly and Quatrain ended their partnership with such a fantastic finish," said Liza. "Elly is moving up to the 3'6" Juniors next year, so Quatrain is now available for the next rider to win on!" 

In addition to enjoying the horse shows, the Towell and Boyd families celebrated the wedding of Blake Boyd's younger sister Margie. She and Aaron Warren were married in Camden, South Carolina, and Elle and Adeline served as flower girls.

Special thanks to the Finally Farm team for all of the wonderful behind-the-scenes photos in the gallery below!

Posted on November 7, 2017 .

Liza Boyd Claims WCHR Pro Finals Title

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Watch Liza Boyd's winning Handy Hunter Round aboard Stella Styslinger's O'Ryan during the $5,000 WCHR Pro Finals!

Upper Marlboro, Maryland – Professional hunter competition concluded on Friday, October 6, at the Capital Challenge Horse Show, presented by World Equestrian Center, with the heralded $5,000 World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Professional Finals.

The top six professional hunter riders in the country went head-to-head over three rounds, before Liza Boyd, of Camden, South Carolina, emerged victorious at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center.
 
Boyd, Victoria Colvin, Tracy Fenney, John French, Scott Stewart and Hunt Tosh each contested the first two rounds on a borrowed horse donated for the class before bringing a horse of their own into the ring for the third and final Handy Hunter round.
 
Boyd earned an average score of 90 in the first round to move into the second place position and an average score of 90.50 in the second round would move her to the top of the leaderboard where she would remain through the end of the class. 

Liza Boyd won her second WCHR Professional Finals title aboard Stella Styslinger's O'Ryan.

Liza Boyd won her second WCHR Professional Finals title aboard Stella Styslinger's O'Ryan.

“I had a little bit of luck of the draw,” said Boyd of her second mount, Redfield Farm’s Carolino. “I got the horse that was a little bit nervous the first round for Scott (Stewart), and Scott did a beautiful job of warming him up for me. So, I kind of felt like the amateur rider that got to get on after the pro rode it around. Thank you, Scott!”
 
The 2017 WCHR Pro Finals was one of the most closely contested Pro Finals in recent memory, with scores in the first and second rounds just fractions apart. It was up to riders to set themselves apart aboard their own mounts in the handy round, and they each pulled out all the stops.
 
“We had to go for it in the Handy. Everyone was amazing in the Handy,” said Boyd, who elected to ride her veteran partner O’Ryan, owned by Stella Styslinger. “I was actually probably the most nervous on O’Ryan, which I thought it was going to be the opposite going in, but I think Tori really put the pressure on us going first and doing those really, really hard turns.”
 
To add to the pressure, Boyd was aiming to better the leading point total posted by her close friend Tosh. The two had flip-flopped wins during the week, and Boyd was ready to take her turn.

“I did not want to do that left lead to the first jump at all—the angle that Tori did started the trend,” Boyd said. “Actually, when we walked the course, we didn’t even think about that. I almost didn’t do it, but then Hunt was so good, and I kind of wanted to beat him. We have had a little rivalry since the [age] 12-14 days, where I did win.”

“We have a picture to prove it,” added Tosh with a laugh.
 
“Then, this week, he beat me by half a point in the 3’6” Performance, so I was like, ‘I’m getting you tonight buddy, sorry,’” Boyd added with a smile.
 
Tosh collected the reserve championship title after riding Betsee Parker’s Gotham to a brilliant Handy Hunter round.
 
“It’s always a fun class,” he said. “We always laugh and tell jokes and try to help each other out a little bit or make each other nervous—I don’t know which it is! We had a good time.”
 
Following the conclusion of the class, Scott Stewart’s mount Private Life, owned by Betsee Parker, also received the Shapley’s Best Presented Award. The Far West Farms Perpetual Trophy, donated by the Karazissis Family and given to the donated horse with the highest cumulative points of the WCHR Pro Finals, was presented to Falcon, owned by The Barracks.  

Check out the Capital Challenge Daily Update, below, for more results!

Posted on October 8, 2017 .

Finally Farm Shines at Rolex Central Park Horse Show

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"It was one of those shows that just doesn’t happen very often," said Liza Boyd of Finally Farm's domination during the Rolex Central Park Horse Show, held September 20-24 in New York City.

The show couldn't have started out better after Hardin Towell and his student Jennifer Gates captured two major jumper victories to start the week. Hardin topped the $40,000 U.S. Open CSX FEI Speed Class aboard Evergate Stables' Lucifer V. 

Hardin Towell and Lucifer V

Hardin Towell and Lucifer V

Hardin and Lucifer V, a 2006 Westphalian gelding (Lord Pezi x Grandina), improved upon their third-placed finish last year and clocked a jump-off time of 53.53 seconds. Hardin was the last entry on course and ultimately overtook Daniel Bluman (ISR) aboard Bacara D’Archonfosse, a 2007 Belgian Warmblood mare (Asca Z x Queen D’Archonfosse) owned by Kim Douglas and Alexa Schwitzer, who stopped the clocks in 55.75 seconds. 

"I felt the course was nice," said Hardin. "It had a twisty turning start, but it wasn’t so big and my horse has been jumping big classes all year. Tonight was a very competitive class, but I had a lot of confidence in my horse, so I took some shots and it was fantastic. I felt he was pretty quick to the second-to-last jump, and I thought my turns were nice. Last week at the American Gold Cup I only got third, but I didn’t trust my horse or myself through the first line, and in the second line I had the third jump down. I would’ve ended up third even if I’d gone clean, so today I decided to believe in my horse. I felt fast today and I knew it was quite good.”

Hardin and Lucifer also placed an impressive second to Kent Farrington riding Creedance in the U.S. Open $216,000 Grand Prix CSI3*, presented by Rolex, and Hardin earned the Leading Rider Award. He noted that Lucifer’s consistency has become one of his greatest strengths, and that trait paid dividends at Central Park.

In the U.S. Open $25,000 Hollow Creek Farm Under 25 Grand Prix, Jennifer Gates, of Seattle, Washington, jumped to a speedy double-clear performance aboard Alex for the win. Aboard the 2004 Westphalian gelding (Arpeggio x Marilu) owned by Copernicus Stables LLC, Jennifer bested the class of 13 entries with a jump-off time in 27.14 seconds.

Jennifer Gates and Alex

Jennifer Gates and Alex

“I thought that the first round was really well done,” said Jennifer. “I was really happy with it. I thought Alex helped me out a bit in the first round, so I was really lucky to come in with him for the jump-off and be able to go that fast. I was trying to just come out and go as fast as I could, so I’m really happy with his performance tonight.”

The pair have been together since July, and this is their fourth show together. “I was very lucky to get the ride on this horse. He’s one of the coolest ones I’ve gotten to ride," she said. "He just goes into that ring and does his job. He’s such a sweetheart in the barn; I’m hoping to grow our partnership and work on being a bit faster.”

Hunters Take the Big Apple Stage

Liza followed up on her brother's success with victory in the U.S. Open $50,000 Duchossois Cup, presented by the Gochman Family and Betsee Parker, aboard Stella Styslinger's O'Ryan. 

Walking through Central Park to the horse show

Walking through Central Park to the horse show

"It was a special win, and I’m not sure why, but I got a bit emotional when they threw the cooler over O'Ryan's back," said Liza, who considered the late Bruce Duchossois a dear friend. "I think it was also being in the city with my family and the unique energy there. Showing at Central Park is really exciting if you have the right horse, and walking through Central Park to the schooling area is really amazing."

Liza described the two-round class as a fun but serious competition, and she particularly liked the format of the show. "Being able to focus on one ring and one class I feel is a little taste of what the jumper riders are used to when they attend the FEI events," she said. "We're so used to running from ring to ring, that this was special. We were able to spend time back at the barn talking and hanging out. The Tosh family even had time to take Elle to the Central Park Zoo, so that was quite fun for her."

Liza enjoyed course designer Bobby Murphy's track. "There were pretty jumps, but only so much you can do there with the size and shape of the ring," she said. "The course wasn't technical, but it was mostly verticals, so the biggest challenge was not to rub the fences. With the atmosphere there, though, it was enough of a challenge just walking into the ring!"

After the first round, Jennifer Alfano and Miss Lucy held the lead with Liza and O'Ryan second by 1 point. "Miss Lucy just loves that venue. I'm amazed at how she can keep that height over those smaller jumps," said Liza. "She went the best in the first round and was beautiful,"

In the second round, Hunt Tosh set the pace with a score of 89, so Liza knew she had to go for it. "I thought, 'OK, now the judges are throwing out high scores, so you have to make sure you keep the height and be bold.' I tried to gallop enough but tried not to let him get strung out or get a rub. I thought he jumped better the second round. He had nice height through the in-and-out, and then I did gallop to the last jump to finish off with flair, and he went great and got the 90. We were on top."

O'Ryan and Liza Boyd with father Jack Towell, daughter Elle and presenters, from left, Katherine Bellisimo and Becky and David Gochman.

O'Ryan and Liza Boyd with father Jack Towell, daughter Elle and presenters, from left, Katherine Bellisimo and Becky and David Gochman.

As she walked out of the ring, Jen entered aboard Miss Lucy. Due to the way the ring is set up, Liza wasn't able to watch Miss Lucy go as she walked back to the schooling area. 

"I was really happy with my performance, so I thought if I’m first or second that would be great," she said. "Jen had last year off due to her knee injury, so I would be just as happy if I won or if she did.  In the end, it was basically splitting hairs because I won by half a point. 

Liza Boyd and Jen Alfano 

Liza Boyd and Jen Alfano 

"Jen and I are great friends and walk these courses together and cheer each other on. This year we added Hunt to the mix, and that was great. We laughed, because we almost gave him too much information since he'd never been here before and almost beat us!" she joked. "But that's the fun part about the sport, these great friends. Having the three of there at the press conference was wonderful, and it didn't matter which one won. We were all cheering each other on. I think that this event brought that out in us because we were able to spend so much quality time together."

Stella Styslinger and Cassanto

Stella Styslinger and Cassanto

Even though Stella Styslinger is a busy freshman at the University of Virginia, she made the Central Park Horse Show a major goal. And the time and effort she put into preparation paid off with the victory in the Junior/Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic aboard Cassanto. 

"I'm so happy for her," said Liza. "Stella did this class last year and was third on O’ Ryan, so she understood the format. She rode beautifully, went in with confidence and stuck to the plan we had. In the schooling area, which is quite small, she had a couple of mistakes, but she didn’t let that bother her. I was so proud of her."

Pony rider Zola Thompson took fifth place in the Pony Hunter Classic aboard Elegance. "She rode really well, was relaxed and focused, and the pony jumped great. She left very confident, and the show was great preparation for the fall indoor shows ahead of her."

Zola Thompson and Elegance

Zola Thompson and Elegance

Although there were many people who contributed to Finally Farm's success at Central Park, Liza cited the most important person to thank is Katie Wood.

"We had it easy compared to Katie. She’s the one who was out at Gladstone with the horses, and her hours were crazy," said Liza. "She came to the horse show and worked all day long. Between preparing and shipping the horses from New Jersey to the show, she was up for 26 hours straight. She went above and beyond, and I can't thank her enough for having all of the horses so well prepared and beautifully turned out. She made it all happen." 

Special thanks also to James Parker and The Book LLC photographers Vicci Valenti and Sam MacDonald for the amazing photos that truly captured the moments and memories that we'll cherish forever!

Posted on September 28, 2017 .

Fun For Finally Farm at Aiken Fall Festival

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The Finally Farm team spent two weeks at the Aiken Fall Festival at Bruce’s Field, September 7-17, and enjoyed ample victories, great accomplishments and rewarding returns.

After having shoulder surgery over the summer, Erin McGuire returned to the show ring aboard her Kasarr. They captured the Low Amateur-Owner Jumper championship and Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic during Week 2 after earning the reserve championship and taking second place in the classic during Week 1.

Erin McGuire and Kasarr

Erin McGuire and Kasarr

“It’s so exciting that Erin is back,” said trainer Liza Boyd. “It was as if she’d never left. Throughout her rehab she was so smart about everything and is crazy about her fitness. I think she’s stronger than ever, and she was so aware of coming back and keeping herself fit. That certainly helped her return so successfully.”

Finally Farm’s 3’3” Junior Hunter riders continued to be a force, taking tricolors and classic wins both weeks.

Zola Thompson and Elegance

Zola Thompson and Elegance

“All three riders, Elly Ficca, Sara Ekola and Maggie Hill, finished the two weeks as grand champion, champion and winners of the classic,” said Liza. “They all had a great last day and had their photo with Jack (see above). It’s a nice way to get set up for the fall indoor shows.”

Zola Thompson not only earned Medium Pony Hunter tricolors both weeks, but she was also featured in The Chronicle of the Horse magazine. The article, titled: “Big Apples For Small Ponies: The Five Most Important Lessons From Zola Thompson,” interviewed Zola about her preparations for the Rolex Central Park Horse Show. Click here to read what Zola had to say about her ponies, role models and future goals!

Elle Boyd and Otis Spunkmeyer

Elle Boyd and Otis Spunkmeyer

Elle Boyd also made great strides in the pony ring during Aiken, stepping up to top performances the Short Stirrup section with Otis Spunkmeyer.

“I’m really proud of her,” said Liza of her daughter. “The first week there were nine in the classes, and she got low ribbons. And she said to me, ‘Mom, I was last in every class.’ I told her, ‘You get out what you put in. You were doing great, but lately you’ve been coming home from school and trail riding or riding bareback.’”

Elle thought about her mom’s advice and stepped up her game for Week 2. After a few focused lessons, Elle was better prepared for her classes.

“She came to the ring so ready the next day,” said Liza. “Unfortunately, she was the only one in the division. But we took it very seriously! She worked hard on riding her corners correctly for the lead changes and improved and had a great time. I thought, ‘Who cares about the competition?’ In the end, I just want these kids to learn and improve their skills.”

Megan Schall and Frederica also stepped up during Aiken and into the 3’3” Amateur-Owner Hunter section. They were more than ready, as the pair finished the two weeks with the Amateur-Owner Hunter Grand Championship.

Megan Schall and Frederica

Megan Schall and Frederica

“Megan and Frederica also did their first USHJA National Hunter Derby, and they were great,” said Liza. “She’s riding amazing, forward and accurate, and the mare has really blossomed after switching over from being a jumper to a hunter. Meg’s really bonded with the mare, too. She’s always out hand grazing her and loves her horse.”

Stella Styslinger just entered her freshman year at the University of Virginia this fall, but she took the time to travel to Aiken for Week 2 as preparation for the Rolex Central Park Horse Show. She earned ribbons on Cassiana in the High Children’s Jumpers, was champion on Cassanto in the 3’6” Junior Hunters and won a class on O’Ryan.

Finally Farm's next stop is the Rolex Central Park Horse in New York City!

Posted on September 21, 2017 .

Hardin Towell Claims Third in The American Gold Cup

Hardin Towell and Lucifer V

Hardin Towell and Lucifer V

Hardin Towell is well on the way to qualifying for his third Longines FEI World Cup Show Jumping Final after placing third in the $216,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping New York CSI4*-W.

The American Gold Cup is one of only seven events that comprise the East Coast division of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League. Top equestrian athletes compete in the league at events all across North America in order to qualify for the prestigious Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final, to be held in Paris, France, April 10–15, 2018.

The 2017 American Gold Cup at Old Salem Farm came to an end on Sunday, September 17, as some of the world’s top international show jumping athletes competed for the coveted American Gold Cup trophy.  The United States claimed the top prize for the second year in a row as Devin Ryan secured the victory aboard the 8-year-old KWPN gelding Eddie Blue.

The top 39 athletes from Friday’s $86,000 American Gold Cup Qualifier CSI4*-W, presented by Windsor Show Stables, came forward to compete on the Grand Prix Field in Sunday’s grand finale over two challenging tracks designed by Alan Wade and Nigel Jess.

The large first round course utilized the field’s natural slopes and hills to test athletes over a series of 14 obstacles, where a majority of faults were collected through the Longines triple combination (oxer-oxer-vertical). Five combinations advanced to the jump-off after producing clear efforts in the first round.

Brianne Goutal (USA) kicked off the tie-breaking round with Remarkable Farms LLC’s Nice De Prissey. The pair won the 2013 American Gold Cup together but concluded Sunday’s competition on 4 faults in 40.12 seconds, which would garner them fourth place in the final standings.

Canada’s Mario Deslauriers and Bardolina, owned by Wishing Well Farm, LLC, experienced an unfortunate parting of ways at the third element of the eight-fence jump-off, resulting in an elimination. Both horse and athlete received a round of applause for their efforts after immediately getting back on their feet and reuniting.

Just coming off their recent win in the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament’s $75,000 Agero Grand Prix at the end of August, Ryan and Eddie Blue, owned by LL Show Jumpers, LLC, claimed the first clear performance of the jump-off. They blazed around the short course in 37.75 seconds, knowing world number three ranked show jumping rider and New York native McLain Ward (USA) would be following him in the order-of-go.

Ward and HH Callas, owned by Double H Farm, took their turn on the Grand Prix Field next, also finishing clear but one second behind Ryan in 38.34 seconds. Jack Towell and Evergate Stables LLC’s Lucifer V were the final challengers of Sunday’s main event. They posted the fastest 4-fault effort in 39.51 seconds for third place, while Ward took home second place honors.

Special thanks to The American Gold Cup and Phelps Media Group for the press release.

Posted on September 18, 2017 .

Summer Fun For Finally Farm

The Finally Farm team took a well-earned break after the USHJA Green Hunter Incentive and Derby Championships in August, with family members and friends enjoying the recent eclipse by horseback and some taking a trip out to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for a different equine experience!

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    Summer Break!

                          Time for some fun in the sun!

Posted on September 1, 2017 .

USHJA Championship in Photos

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USHJA Championships

Kentucky Horse Park - August 2017

Team Finally Farm spent the week of August 14-20 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, which featured the USHJA International Hunter Derby and USHJA Green Hunter Incentive championships.

It was a great week, with lots of wonderful performances from the young and green hunters to the veterans O'Ryan and Cassanto, who made it to the Section A Handy Hunter Round under the lights on Saturday night.  

USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship

Elizabeth Fogleman's Sawyer

Megan Schall's Frederica

Kelley King's Refined


USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship

Stella Styslinger's Cassanto and O'Ryan

Finally Farm and Westerly Farm's Clemens

 

Posted on August 25, 2017 .

Blowing Rock Results in Rewards For Finally Farm

Always a summer highlight, The 94th Annual Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show didn't disappoint as Finally Farm riders and horses starred in the ring and enjoyed ample time for celebration and relaxation, July 26-August 6 in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. 

Success was ample, from the ponies to the USHJA International Hunter Derby to the jumpers, over the two weeks spent in the North Carolina mountains.

"We had a great show, and it was so much fun," said trainer Liza Boyd. "The staff and volunteers do an amazing job, and each year they find a way to improve it!"

Liza was particularly proud of one of their youngest students, Zola Thompson, who set a pretty impressive goal and worked hard to achieve it.

Zola Thompson and Elegance

Zola Thompson and Elegance

"Zola came down to Camden the week before Blowing Rock and had lessons. Her goal was to be grand champion on her pony, Elegance," said Liza. "I thought, 'Gosh, this is going to be hard!' One day she came out to the barn and wanted a flat lesson and wanted to learn how to get her pony on the bit. She just worked and worked. In the end, she was Medium Pony champion both weeks and just missed the grand championship.

"But it was so exciting to watch the progression and see how a student can set a goal and attain it," Liza added. "Her focus on flatwork really has made her stronger and more aware of her pony’s track. For example, learning how to move her pony into the outside rein, which is a little technical for a young rider, made a big difference. Showing is more than just jumping around, and she's old enough now to learn how to get a lot more out of her pony."

Liza also found her own success throughout Blowing Rock and earned a number of the traditional silver memorial and perpetual trophies, many named after icons in the industry who helped establish Blowing Rock nearly a century ago.

Liza Boyd and Cassanto

Liza Boyd and Cassanto

Liza guided Maggie Hill's Capriccio to the meaningful Roger Young Memorial Grand Conformation Hunter Championship. "This win meant a lot. Roger always loved conformation horses," said Liza of her late Camden neighbor. "Maggie was also grand champion in the 3’3” Juniors on him and earned the Critz Trophy. He's such a nice horse, shows you the distances and is so beautiful between the jumps. I've found that all types of judges seem to like him; he’s very appealing."

Stella Styslinger's Cassanto also earned double grand titles, first with Liza for their 3’6" Performance Working Hunter championship and then with Stella and Devin Seek in the irons for the Cassalo Trophy as the Grand Large Junior Hunter Champion. Stella's O'Ryan also won the Lyrik Trophy for Overall Grand Champion Junior Hunter and the Elizabeth Crockett Luczak Trophy for Grand Champion Small Junior Hunter.

It wouldn't be Blowing Rock without a touch of rain!

It wouldn't be Blowing Rock without a touch of rain!

In addition, Wells Fargo sponsored a rider bonus program where the top-scoring rider from each day from each ring received $500 and his or her groom received $100.

"So, it was really fun and competitive--we were all really going for it," said Liza. "And what was great was that some days the Ponies and the Green Hunters would go in the same ring, so the kids would be riding against the professionals! One day Maddie Tosh beat her dad, Hunt. It was cool because it wasn’t just the pros winning. Devin Seek also got it one day on Cassanto in the Juniors and Mary Carton Mitchener won it in the Amateur-Owners. I won the bonus twice on Cassanto. He was jumping to some really high scores! And Maggie Hill got it one day. It's a great idea, and I believe Burr Collier thought of it and Wells Fargo took it on, and I thank them all for coming up with such a great idea!" 

Liza also thanked Devin Seek for once again riding Stella's Cassanto and O'Ryan when she couldn't be there the first week. Liza finished up the first week with second place aboard Cassanto in the $15,000 Kathryn G. Clark Memorial Challenge of Champions behind Havens Schatt aboard Crack. Liza also picked up fourth place with Clemens. 

Sunday evening of Week 1 also featured Finally Farm's traditional good-bye gala for the juniors graduating and going onto college. This year, the celebration was for Stella, who will be moving to Virginia and Mary Carton Mitchener, who is off to California. Mary Carton finished her final show with Trinity by earning her highest score to date of an 88 and taking the reserve championship.

For the $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, Liza and Cassanto jumped to the top with Clemens placing third. 

"I always think Blowing Rock is a great prep for the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships in Kentucky. Even though it's a smaller ring, the class is held at night, it's dark with a party, and there's a lot of energy around the ring," she explained. "It's a lot of pressure for the horses and riders. This year's course was hard, the jumps were big and the Handy was really challenging. Some of the distances were set on the half-stride, so you had to plan and make good decisions."

Liza and Cassanto stood second going into the Handy, and she chose to jump three of the four high options but added some tighter turns to up the degree of difficulty. In the end, her strategy paid off as she edged Sara Taylor with Carento for the blue ribbon. Clemens also rallied in the Handy to move up from seventh to third overall.   

"It felt like good prep for my horses and myself. I'm super proud of Clemens. He's a First Year Green horse, and he was really on his game," she said. "This was a positive note going into his first Derby Finals."

As preparation for the USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship, Liza piloted Megan Schall's Frederica to a reserve championship in the 3'3" Green Hunter section, and Liz Fogleman's Sawyer earned good ribbons both weeks. "Blowing Rock is always a good experience for a young horse, because sometimes they show later in the evening as they do at the Green Incentive. There are no warm ups, like Kentucky, so they have to walk right into a spooky ring. It's a good way to gauge their preparation, and they both seem ready, so we're all looking forward to Kentucky!"

Elly Ficca with Quatrain, Ellen Addison riding El Tindo, Sarah Isgett riding Fieona and Sarah Ekola with Zanzibar also collected top ribbons in their respective sections during Blowing Rock to wind down their summer show seasons. 

In the Jumper Ring, Lily Bennett showed just Week 2 but made it count. "She had a great day on the final Sunday and was second in the Low Children's Jumper Classic on Athina 18, just ahead of Stella with Cassiana, and Lily also claimed third in the Highs on Zimba," said Liza. "Everyone had a great time at Blowing Rock this year, and we're now looking forward to Derby and the Green Incentive championships!"

Posted on August 9, 2017 .

Championship Time at Charleston

Liza Boyd and Clemens won the USHJA National Hunter Derby

Liza Boyd and Clemens won the USHJA National Hunter Derby

Finally Farm's Clemens continued to impress on the summer show circuit, this time winning the USHJA National Hunter Derby at the Charleston Summer Classic, July 11-16 on John's Island, South Carolina. In addition, the entire Finally Farm team enjoyed ample success as well, taking home nine championships and reserves in the hunters, jumpers and ponies.

Trainer Liza Boyd has been partnered with Clemens since the spring, and they're developing a strong partnership as they focus on the USHJA Derby classes. "At Charleston, I also did some jumper classes, which was really good for him. Also, because the Derby went in the jumper ring I wanted to get in that ring and familiarize him with the environment. There were end jumps and bending lines, so that was nice to do. For that horse show, it was good strategy."

Because this Derby went in the evening, Liza also wanted Clemens to experience the atmosphere, such as spectators around the ring and the different fences.

Liza was pleased with the Derby itself, which featured courses designed by Allen Rheinheimer. 
"Allen did a great job. The courses were nice, with bending lines and unique fences. It was great practice and exposure for Clemens," she said.

Liza also piloted Capriccio to the 3'3"/3'6" Green Hunter championship and Karen Lackinger's Gratis to the 3' Green Hunter championship, 

"Gratis was champion, which was good for him because he'll take a break now," said Liza. "He's not quite ready for Blowing Rock or Kentucky, so this was a great way for him to wrap up the summer. He'll go home now and trail ride and show again this fall in Aiken. We also like to give the young horses this valuable down time to relax."

Capriccio is a new face at Finally Farm, as Maggie Hill just began leasing him from owner Samantha Kench. Their debut in the 3'3" Juniors was a championship one, as the pair quickly clicked. Maggie also earned ribbons on Shamrock and Co Co Chanel for a strong showing in the section.

Maggie Hill and Capriccio 

Maggie Hill and Capriccio 

Finally Farm dominated the 3'6" Juniors, taking the championship with Trinity and reserve championship with Cassanto. Devin Seek took the reins aboard Mary Carton Mitchener's Trinity and Stella Styslinger's Cassanto and O'Ryan for the show, also winning the Junior Hunter Classic aboard O'Ryan.

A similar sweep occurred in the Medium Pony Hunters as Finally Farm-trained riders dominated. Behold and Dylan Driver earned the championship, while Zola Thompson's consistent performances with Elegance resulted in the reserve championship ribbon. Zola as well as second place in the Small/Medium Pony Hunter Classic. 

"We trained Dylan because her trainer, Jessica Ogburn, couldn’t be there," said Liza. "She was fun to teach. Zola won the model and another class. She rode great."

Ellen Addison joined Finally Farm at Charleston and earned the Adult Amateur Hunter, 50 and over, section championship riding El Tindo. "She lives in Alabama, and her horse is really cute. She's hasn't shown in a while and intends to move back up to the 3'3" Amateurs at Blowing Rock. We look forward to having her in the barn!"

 

Posted on July 27, 2017 .

Tricolor Time For Finally Farm at Atlanta Summer Classics

Frederica and Megan Schall

Frederica and Megan Schall

The Atlanta Summer Classics, held June 14-25 at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, provided a great start to the summer show season for Finally Farm riders and horses. 

For Megan Schall, Week 2 proved particularly memorable as she and Frederica made their 3’3” Amateur-Owner Hunter debut. They won three of the five section classes and placed second in the Handy round.

"Meg did the Adult Amateurs during Week I and was reserve champion, so we thought it was time. This week she moved up to the 3’3”, and what a debut it was," said trainer Liza Boyd. "It was very exciting. I asked her, 'When’s the last time you did a handy?' She said, 'When I was a junior!' The mare is really coming along, and Meg rode her super."

Liza and Frederica also earned the 3'3" Green Hunter championship both weeks of Atlanta as well as top ribbons in the USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Stake class. Similarly, Elizabeth Fogleman's Sawyer continued to rack up the ribbons in the 3'3" Greens and the USHJA Stake classes, with excellent performances both weeks.

Liza piloted Finally Farm's Clemens to another solid performance in the USHJA International Hunter Derby during Week 2 as she prepares him for the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship in August.

"I didn't show him the first week because I wanted to save him for Week 2, which was a WCHR week," said Liza of her showing strategy. "I wanted to aim him for the 3'6" Greens, and he was champion and got good WCHR points.

"The International Derby was Friday morning, and it was quite a good derby and competitive," she noted. "There were many seasoned horses in the class. Clemens was great in the Classic Round, and placed fourth, but did get a little green in the Handy Round. It was partially rider error, as well," she added with a smile. "I angled him for a slice, and he wasn't sure whether we wee jumping the high or low option, and he swapped. But he did all of the inside turns, which were tricky and tough, and he did all the high options. We ended up sixth overall, and I was really pleased with him."

Stella Styslinger and Cassanto

Stella Styslinger and Cassanto

Cassanto and O’Ryan continued their winning streaks during both weeks of Atlanta, earning tricolor honors and many blue ribbons. Liza was especially thrilled with Cassanto's performances during Week 2. 

"Stella rode him amazing!" she said. "They won three classes, and he jumped beautifully. He really loves her and goes the best for her. She frames him up a little, and he just loves the way she rides him. She had one of the best trips I’ve ever seen her have, so that was really rewarding."

Once again Devin Seek assisted with the riding duties for Finally Farm, showing Trinity for Mary Carton Mitchener in the 3'6" Juniors where they earned the reserve championship and won the Junior Hunter Classic. 

"Mary Carton is going to California to college, so Trinity will now be for sale," said Liza. "He's a great Junior/Amateur Hunter and was also reserve champion in the 3'6" Performance Working Hunters with me. Devin is catch riding him for Junior Hunter points and did a great job."

Maggie Hill returned to the East Coast after finishing up school in Wyoming, and she didn't miss a beat. She piloted Co Co Chanel to the 3'3" Junior Hunter reserve championship and won the 3’3” Junior Hunter Classic.

"This was a tough division, with 26 in it, and it wasn't split," said Liza. "She actually tied for the reserve with Co Co and Shamrock, so that was great. It was exactly one year ago that she started leasing Shamrock, and to see how far they’ve come in a year is awesome. The last round they scored an 87 in the Handy, and it's so fun to see how they've both grown and matured. Even though she wasn't able to show Week 1, she sent him with me for the USHJA National Hunter Derby, which helped him gain more mileage and he ended up second."

In the jumpers, Finally Farm riders also claimed top honors. Kelly Maloney and Justified earned championship honors in the Adult Amateur 1.10m section. "Kelly hadn’t shown in a little while, so it was great for her to pop in and win. All of those miles in Florida really paid off, and Kelly rode really well."

Lily Bennett jumped to the reserve championship in the 1.15m Children's/Adult Jumpers with Zimba, continuing her move up the levels.

Finally Farm now takes a short break from showing, but the summer fun and jumping continues on!

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Posted on June 28, 2017 .

Finally Farm Sees Success at Tryon Summer II

Liza Boyd and Stella Styslinger's O'Ryan

Liza Boyd and Stella Styslinger's O'Ryan

In addition to hosting the Carolinas Show Hunter Hall of Fame Inductions, where Finally Farm's Monday Morning earned a coveted place in the Hall, the Tryon Summer II Horse Show featured top competition, June 7-11 in Mill Spring, North Carolina.

Finally Farm’s Clemens continued to gain more mileage and ribbons in the USHJA International Hunter Derbies, with a sixth-placed finish overall in the $25,000 class at Tryon. 

“The Derby was held on the grass field, and it was a little overwhelming for some of the horses,” said Liza. “It’s a big, open field with eventing fences and ditches, and Clemens handled it quite well and held it together.”

Liza described the field as maturing nicely, with a firmer feel than when she competed there previously.  It was just to O’Ryan’s liking, as he placed second overall after placing second in the Classic and Handy rounds. She placed just behindSchuyler Riley aboard Cleopatra’s Smile.

“This was one of those instances where as a rider I had to make a choice and strategize,” she said. “I could have jumped more of the high options, and we might have won. When we started, he raised up a little, and so I did two high and two low options just to be on the safe side.

“But that’s what makes the derbies exciting,” she continued. “I could have done one more high option and got the win, but I also could have knocked it down and got nothing. In my mind it was better to get $5,500 than no prize money. Schuyler did all of the high options. And with her on that white horse with her red jacket galloping around the field, she looked amazing. It was great that a grand prix show jumping rider had so much fun and loves doing the derbies. She took more of a risk, and it paid off, and I’m thrilled with my red ribbon.”

With Stella Styslinger unable to attend Tryon, Finally Farm once again borrowed Devin Seek from Don Stewart Stables to take the reins aboard Cassanto and O’Ryan in the Junior Hunters. The trip was worthwhile, as Devin earned the 3’6” championship with O’Ryan and was reserve aboard Cassanto. As icing on the cake, she also placed first and second in the Junior Hunter Classic with them.

“We really appreciate having Devin ride with us,” said Liza. “She so much fun and has a great work ethic.”

Zimba shows off his loot!

Zimba shows off his loot!

Liza jumped aboard Stella’s Cassiana in the 1.10m open jumpers and placed first and second of 26 entries and earned the reserve championship.

Lily Bennett and Zimba continued on their High Children’s Jumper winning streak. The pair won the NAL/WIHS High Children’s Jumper Classic and the section championship.

“What a great horse-and-rider match they are,” said Liza. “He’s phenomenal, and Lily has really learned to ride these jumpers. I’m impressed with how far she’s come and how educated she’s become.”

Unlike many professionals who ride clients’ horses to keep then sharp and on their game, Liza piloted Zimba in the 1.10m to slow him down.

“He’s a winning machine, and he’s so eager. I get on him every Wednesday and make him have time faults and go straight,” she said laughing. “The whistle will blow, and he’s into it, leaping forward. He knows how to win, and he’s good at it. I have to tell him, ‘We’re going to lose a class by going straight and deep into the corners. Then, when Lily gets back on he’s ready to listen.”

Lily Bennett and Zimba

Lily Bennett and Zimba

Elly Ficca and Quatrain continued their domination in the 3’3” Junior Hunters, winning four of the five classes in the section and placing second in the other for the championship

“She was awesome, super consistent, and she had the best handy I’ve ever seen her have,” said Liza. “I think a lot of her success has come from practice. She’s come to Camden frequently for lessons, and it’s paid off.”

Zola Thompson’s hard work has also paid dividends. She won the handy in the Medium Pony section and earned other top ribbons. Elle Boyd added to her ribbon collection with the reserve championship in the Short/Long Stirrup section aboard Otis Spunkmeyer.

“We’ve been working on the track and not cutting corners, and she was really focused,” said Liza. “She won an over fences class and placed in the top three in all of her other jumping classes. She’s off to her first sleepover camp for a week near Tryon with Joann Loheac’s daughter, Olivia. I hope they have lots of fun.”

 

Posted on June 19, 2017 .

Monday Morning Inducted Into the Carolinas Show Hunter Hall of Fame

Monday Morning and Liza Towell Boyd

Monday Morning and Liza Towell Boyd

The Carolinas Show Hunter Hall of Fame honored the 2017 inductees during a ceremony on June 9 at the Legends Club at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, North Carolina. The Tryon Riding and Hunt Club created the Carolinas Show Hunter Hall of Fame to recognize outstanding Show Hunters and Horsemen from North and South Carolina.

During this, the inaugural year, the inductees included Finally Farm’s famed show hunter Monday Morning. In addition, trainer Jack Towell was a 2017 honoree and also inducted longtime friend and trainer Danny Robertshaw. Other inductees included Kathryn G. Clark, Jarrett Schmid, Protocol, Remember The Laughter, Silverminer and Western Prospect.

“It was a blast. Joann Loheac (the Carolinas Show Hunter Hall of Fame Committee chair) did an amazing job organizing it, as did the entire committee that hosted it,” said Liza Boyd. “It was such fun to hear all of the great stories. Jack received an award, and he spoke for Danny Robertshaw and talked about a class that Danny won at the Washington International on Protocol when Jack was judging. He kept saying, ‘It was the best round I’ve ever seen—except for that one round with Brunello at Derby Finals…the stories were amazing.”

Liza rode Monday Morning to countless Junior Hunter championships in the mid-1990s. His HOF bio read:

Monday Morning – was an off-the-track-Thoroughbred and champion Junior Hunter. He was owned and ridden by Liza Towell (now Boyd), of Finally Farm in Camden, South Carolina. Monday Morning was champion at the Devon Horse Show, Capital Challenge, the Pennsylvania National, the Washington International and the National Horse Show in the Small Junior Hunter division. He won the inaugural $25,000 WCHR Palm Beach Hunter Classic Spectacular in 1997, with an average two-round score of 90.6. Liza Towell Boyd distinctly remembers the night of her victory, “I have to say, it is probably one of the most memorable highlights of my career. It was a huge boost as I started out as a professional the next year.” In 1996, Monday Morning was named The Chronicle of the Horse “Overall Horse of the Year.”

Liza and Monday Morning after winning the inaugural WCHR Hunter Classic Spectacular in Florida in 1997. Painting by Michael Tang based on a photo by Tricia Booker

Liza and Monday Morning after winning the inaugural WCHR Hunter Classic Spectacular in Florida in 1997. Painting by Michael Tang based on a photo by Tricia Booker

“When Monday Morning got his award, I’d kind of forgotten his story and everything that happened,” said Liza. “He had bowed his tendon on the track, and one truck came to take horses to the slaughterhouse and one arrived at the same time to pick up the broodmares. He got on the wrong truck. When he got to the farm, a lady saw him and said, ‘He’s pretty. I’ll rehab him.’ Then there’s another part of the story when she’s driving him to Florida from New York and gets stuck in a snowstorm. She ends up leading him down the interstate, and he was clipped without a blanket. He ended up tied up in a chicken coop. I think in the end he was so appreciative to have me and become a show horse.”

The Carolinas Show Hunter Hall of Fame had a casual inception. One evening in October of 2016, Gerald Pack, of Columbus, North Carolina, and Jack Towell ran into each other while dining at Landrum’s The Hare and Hound. Gerald and Jack began reminiscing about all the great show hunters and horsemen from the Tryon area. Their journey down memory lane became an endless list of famous horses and individuals from the Carolinas.

“Soon after, Gerald called me with the idea of putting together a Hall of Fame to honor these notable people and horses,” said Joann Loheac on the HOF website page. “At that time, we were serving as directors on the Tryon Riding & Hunt Club’s (TRHC) board. We were excited to add the Carolinas Show Hunter Hall of Fame to TRHC’s historic and equestrian centered organization.”

The induction ceremony included a slideshow on the Jumbotron that included great, old photos. “The whole thing gave me goosebumps,” said Liza. “It was a fantastic evening.”

For more information, to view more photos and read about this year's inductees, please visit the Carolinas Show Hunter Hall of Fame website.

Posted on June 19, 2017 .

Finally Farm Celebrates Derby Wins in the Carolinas

Liza Boyd and Clemens won the USHJA International Hunter Derby at Tryon

Liza Boyd and Clemens won the USHJA International Hunter Derby at Tryon

"Derby Friday" was the them for Finally Farm for the past two weeks during the Aiken Spring Classic II in South Carolina, and the Equus Events Tryon May III Horse Show in North Carolina.

"We've had an amazing run of derby successes two weeks back-to-back," said trainer Liza Boyd of their wins in four USHJA International and National Hunter Derby classes.  

The Friday of each show featured the Derby classes, and during Tryon, Liza won both derbies.

Liza Boyd and Shamrock won the USHJA National Hunter Derby at Tryon

Liza Boyd and Shamrock won the USHJA National Hunter Derby at Tryon

Friday May 19 began with the USHJA National Hunter Derby with 31 entries. Show managers opened two rings for the class, allowing ample room and a different venue where Maggie Hill's Shamrock showed off his winning talents.

"It was neat because we had this huge ring to ride in, and the course designer brought in basically all the same jumps used in the International Hunter Derby," said Liza. "Because of the three-day events held there, they even had cross-country jumps incorporated into both derbies. They were really interesting and definitely types of fences I’d never jumped before. One they made into a lower option fence, but it was super wide and stout and had no standards. Amazingly, all of the horses jumped it great."

Liza and Shamrock won the Classic Round and earned the Overall victory in a competitive field of entries. "He’s matured this past winter, and I want to credit Maggie, who leases him now," said Liza. "She's done an amazing job and added the finishing touches."

Over the winter, Liza and Maggie, of Jackson, Wyoming, focused on flatwork and gymnastics with the 8-year-old chestnut Hanoverian, which strengthened his topline and encouraged him to jump with more power from behind. Earlier in the week, Liza and Shamrock also won a 3'6" Performance Working Hunter class with a score of 89.

Their victory set the stage for the USHJA International Hunter Derby, held in the George H. Morris Stadium. Again, the course featured cross-country fences and unique additions, such as whiskey barrels.

"This was a great course and great preparation for the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships since it was held in a stadium setting and included all the different jumps," she said.   

Liza had two rides in the Derby, the veteran Cassanto and her newest partner, Clemens, a 7-year-old bay Oldenburg owned by Finally Farm and Westerly Farm. And, it was Clemens who rose to the occasion.

"During the Classic round, he trotted into the ring and put his head up. He'd never seen anything like this before," said Liza. "I had to hold his hand, but as he went he got better and better. He was overwhelmed but trying so hard not to mess up. My plan was to do all of the low options and qualify him for Derby Finals. After the Classic, he was sixth, right where I wanted him to be, and Cassanto was third."

Liza returned aboard Clemens for the Handy Round and again sought to have a solid round. As she went around the course, Liza realized Clemens was confident and focused, so she chose to add in the high option fences. 

"As I went, he was so good I ended up doing all four high options. I incorporated some tight turns as well, and I couldn't believe how smart this horse is," she said. "Everything you teach him he figures out immediately. Physically, he's not as strong yet, so does get tired, but I was thrilled to score a 90 and 89 before high options and handy points were added."

Watch Clemens and Liza Boyd take their winning Handy Round!

On the afternoon of Friday on May 12, Liza and O'Ryan topped the USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Aiken Spring Classic II after Lindsay Maxwell won the USHJA National Hunter Derby that morning at Tryon Spring II.

"Lindsay set the standard by winning the USHJA National Derby at Tryon that morning. I have to thank her because Jack (Towell) went up to train her, and came back to Aiken for the International Derby here. I said, 'Thank you for sending Jack home in a good mood!'' 

Lindsay Maxwell and Catalyst won the USHA National Hunter Derby in Tryon

Lindsay Maxwell and Catalyst won the USHA National Hunter Derby in Tryon

Maxwell rode Catalyst to the victory in a competitive class of 25 entries. "Jack had helped her once before at Aiken and enjoyed his trip to Tryon," said Liza. "He said, 'Wow, she’s really competitive.' It turned out the horse that went before her scored a 90, and Jack gave her some options for doing inside turns. And she said, 'I’m going for the 92.' Jack said, 'I like this competitive girl!' She went in and went for it, and won that derby and was great."

Liza Boyd and O'Ryan won the USHJA International Hunter Derby at Aiken

Liza Boyd and O'Ryan won the USHJA International Hunter Derby at Aiken

Maxwell's banner show also included the addition of a new partner, as Finally Farm and Archie Cox congratulated her on the purchase on Largesse from Hunt Tosh and the Wheelers.

Down in Aiken, O’Ryan and Liza also topped the derby card in a challenging class. Boyd went first on Stella Styslinger's Cassanto in the Classic Round and was the pacesetter.

"When we walked the course, the bending lines all seemed to walk forward," she said. "It was interesting because it's not a huge ring, but it's not quite like a derby field. I got into a good gallop for a derby, and it turned out I just had too much gallop. The first line was a forward nine, and as I got down there I thought, 'What's happening?' Three strides out I had to pull on the reins and was deep out. It was a little unfortunate to go first."

After riding Cassanto, Liza had O’Ryan at the end of the class and knew more of the plan she needed. Since she knows O’Ryan well, her strategy in the Handy was to go for the win, take some hard inside turns and most of the high options. 

"Stella couldn't make it to Aiken, so we felt having Cassanto and O'Ryan do the derby was a good preparation for Devon," she said. "Devon will have some spookier jumps and a more challenging course, so this was a good class to get them tuned up for her, as well."

At Tryon, Devin Seek showed Cassanto and O'Ryan and took championship honors in both Junior Hunter sections. "She did a wonderful job, and it was so nice of her. I want to thank Don Stewart for sharing her for the weekend," said Liza. 

Other Finally Farm champions during Tryon and Aiken included: Lindsay Maxwell's Technicolor in the 3'9" Green Hunters; Co Co Chanel and Maggie Hill in the 3'3" Juniors; Frederica and Meg Schall in the Adult Amateur, 18-35, section; Quatrain and Elly Ficca in the 3'3" Juniors; Trinity and Mary Carton Mitchener in the 3'3" Amateur-Owners; and Otis Spunkmeyer and Elle Boyd in the Short Stirrup.

Zola Thompson and Elegance also won the Pony Hunter Classic, and Joann Loheac's Callahan won the USHJA Green Hunter Incentive. Technicolor also earned the overall Grand Hunter title for the two weeks of Aiken.

"I feel good that everyone did so well over these two weeks," said Liza. "For some, it was a great prep for Devon and others made great strides in their ongoing goals. We look forward to Devon next week and continuing the momentum into the summer."

Posted on May 23, 2017 .

Rewards Abound For Finally Farm at Aiken Charity I

Elle Boyd and Otis Spunkmeyer

Elle Boyd and Otis Spunkmeyer

The Finally Farm team enjoyed success and memorable moments during the Aiken Charity Horse Show I, held May 3-7 on Bruce's Field in Aiken, South Carolina.

"It was a wonderful horse show and so competitive," said trainer Liza Boyd. "It was refreshing to see so many quality hunters, and all of the sections were filled during this World Championship Hunter Rider week. You don't typically see that nowadays, and I know that (the late) Bruce Ducchosois would have loved to see all of this. I think that the support for the show says a lot about the tradition here and how important the hunters were to Bruce and his horse show." 

Liza enjoyed ample success in the open sections, earning the 3'9" Green Hunter Reserve Championship aboard Lindsay Maxwell's Technicolor.

Liza Boyd and Lindsay Maxwell's Technicolor

Liza Boyd and Lindsay Maxwell's Technicolor

"I was really pleased with how well he went," said Liza of Technicolor. "With Hunt Tosh, Daniel Geitner and Havens Schatt all preparing their horses for Devon, it was a super competitive section."  

Liza also piloted Megan Schall's Frederica to the 3'3" Green Hunter Reserve Championship, for an excellent start to the week. Megan also collected nice ribbons on the mare in the Adult Amateur Hunters later in the week.

The Juniors continued the momentum Liza started, as Stella Styslinger dominated the 3'6" Junior Hunters, taking the Small Junior championship with O'Ryan and the Large Junior championship aboard Cassanto. Stella and Cassanto also won the Junior Hunter Classic, to top of their show with a bang. Maggie Hill also guided Co Co Chanel to the 3'3" Junior Hunter Reserve Championship.   

On the Jumper side, Stella and Lily Bennett were impressive in the Children's Jumpers, winning consistent ribbons, as was Kelly Maloney on Justified in the Adult Amateurs.

"We were really pleased with how all of the jumpers finished up on Sunday," noted Liza. "They all rode super and the horses jumped great, with everyone earning a ribbon in their respective Jumper Classics."

Sarah Isgett and Fieona

Sarah Isgett and Fieona

Sarah Isgett continued her winning streak aboard Kelly Maloney's Fieona in the Adult Amateur Hunter, 18-35, section. "Sarah and Fieona won both classes the second day, and they were great," said Liza. "I'm so thrilled for Sarah. She rides on her school's intercollegiate team during the school year, and that's helped her so much. We're so appreciative of her spending the summer with us to ride and happy she's so competitive in the Adults." 

Liza was also pleased to see the 13-year-old, Oldenburg mare (Grand Coeur--Hauptstutbuch Festa) return to the show ring this spring after recovering from an injury. "Fieona's coming back strong, and it's so wonderful to see her doing so well so quickly. Kelly bought her as a 5-year-old, and she’s been around a while. She’s had some injuries and lived in Kelly’s backyard while she nursed her back to health.

Owner Kelly Maloney with Fieona and rider Sarah Isgett

Owner Kelly Maloney with Fieona and rider Sarah Isgett

"Fieona has done a little bit for everybody," Liza added. "I like to say she helped me win the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships one year because I went first on her and then rode Brunello later in the class. My brother Hardin also did her in the grand prix classes in Kentucky (click here for a video) and all over. So, it’s fun to see her now again with Sarah, giving her all again and winning."

Elle Boyd, 7, added another tricolor to her growing collection with the Short Stirrup Reserve Championship aboard Otis Spunkmeyer. 

"She was so proud of herself! The jumps were big. The course designer left the hay bales in there, so it was a solid course. This was also the first time she hasn’t gone off course, which was a huge achievement. Her goal the second day was not to let him trot, and she was really excited that she did that, too. And, I think her grandparents were more excited about the reserve than she was," Liza added with a laugh.

Elle Boyd and Alberto Ramirez celebrate the tricolor!

Elle Boyd and Alberto Ramirez celebrate the tricolor!

Posted on May 11, 2017 .

New Arrivals at Finally Farm

Annie Walters and Clemens

Annie Walters and Clemens

Spring often means new arrivals and fresh starts, and that certainly applied to Finally Farm over the past several weeks. 

Finally Farm said good-bye to long-time Assistant Trainer Tamara Berkowitz and welcomed Katie Wood to fill that role at the Camden, South Carolina-based show stable.

"We will greatly miss Tamara, but after almost 3 1/2 years we're happy for her and to see her take this new adventure," said Liza Boyd.  

North Carolina-based Katie Wood was added to the Finally Farm staff as Assistant Trainer and rider following Tamara's departure after the Longines Global Champions Tour event in Miami.

"It's nice to have someone here who has family nearby," said Liza. "Her last job was with Eight Oaks in Middleburg, Virginia, with Kitty and Johnny Barker. She learned so much there, even how to drive a tractor, so Johnny trained her well! Katie will take over the barn managing, do some teaching and riding. She's a good rider, and the horses seem to like her. Her first show was at Aiken (at the end of April), and she prepared the horses beautifully. We're really excited to have her on board."

Finally Farm also welcomed Clemens to the barn at the end of April. The 7-year-old Oldenburg (Clemence--Diana), imported by Annie Walters, was purchased by Finally Farm and Westerly Farm as Liza's next derby superstar.

Annie posted on her Facebook page: "AMW Stables, LLC is thrilled to announce and congratulate Liza Towell, Finally Farm and Westerly Farm on the purchase of our "Clemens". This horse is full of heart and has unlimited talent. With Liza in the irons, this team will be one to beat! I am excited to watch this duo crush the derbies!"

Annie Walters and Clemens

Annie Walters and Clemens

Annie, a young professional from the Charleston, South Carolina, area, imported Clemens and had been showing him this spring locally. She asked Liza to help her at the Aiken Spring Classic Masters in preparation for their first USHJA International Hunter Derby together.

"Each day he got better and better," said Liza. "So, I said to my dad (Jack Towell), 'I like this horse a lot.' I sat on him Friday, jumped a few fences and loved his balance. For me, he's what you look for in a derby horse. He's scopey, athletic and attractive. I look forward to the future with him."

After Annie and Clemens earned the 3'6" Green Hunter championship and placed ninth overall in the USHJA International Hunter Derby, the deal was made. Clemens then relocated to Camden, where he's co-owned by Finally Farm and Ann Misenheimer's Westerly Farm.  

"He has so much scope that he easily cantered out of the paddock the other day," said Liza laughing. "He jumped this big fence, which is up a hill. It's super tall, and we all watched him canter a little circle and jump over it like it was 3’. Alberto turned to me and said, 'You should do him in the Grand Prix!' All the guys were excited because he jumped it so easily. Usually, when a horse gets loose people are freaked out, but not this time. Everyone was excited! The bugs are already out down here, and I don't think he’s used to them, so he was just putting himself back in his stall!"

Liza is also excited to welcome Ann Misenheimer back to the Finally Farm family. She had previously been in a syndicate that owned the Grand Prix Jumper Kargita that Liza competed in the early 2000s. 

"I'm so happy that Ann is back and she and my mom can hang out together and cheer us on," she said. "To have her back on the team with this horse is really exciting."

Annie Walters and Clemens

Annie Walters and Clemens

Posted on May 2, 2017 .

Hardin Towell and Darragh Kenny Take Thrilling Win in Shanghai

Darragh Kenny, left, and Hardin Towell lead the Longines Global Champions Tour victory lap in Shanghai.

Darragh Kenny, left, and Hardin Towell lead the Longines Global Champions Tour victory lap in Shanghai.

Source: LGCT/Stefano Grasso

Paris Panthers turned up the heat in the Longines Global Champions League ranking with a thrilling win in Shanghai with fans on the edge of their seats until the final fence. Darragh Kenny and Jack Hardin Towell sealed victory after a major upset saw leading team St Tropez Pirates tumble from pole position to eighth overall.

Today’s dramatic team competition went down to the wire and ended with the GCL season leaderboard tighter than ever. Valkenswaard United’s heavyweight squad ensured they held on to their lead for the third leg in a row. New recruit Marcus Ehning proved he was a strong signing and went clear in his GCL debut pairing with Alberto Zorzi today for the Final in Shanghai. The team are on 74 points overall and only 6 points ahead of second place London Knights who jumped ahead of St Tropez Pirates, now in third position, in the ranking.

Thousands of fans watched the team competition, sponsored by BMW, play out on the spectacular show ground in Shanghai overlooked by the imposing red China Art Pavilion. BMW China President Michael Liu praised the event and the world class sport. Families enjoyed the stunning shopping village and entertainment as dignitaries from China joined the VIP guests.

Hardin Towell and Lucifer V

Hardin Towell and Lucifer V

The GCL competition was not short of drama as the heavyweights of show jumping ensured a formidable calibre of competition. St Tropez Pirates looked confident for most of the class after a flawless performance in Round 1 yesterday put them in pole position. Julien Epaillard and Quatrin de la Roque jumped clear following his clear round yesterday on Cristallo. The pressure was on Simon Delestre and chestnut gelding Chesall to hold on to the lead. But the pair picked up an unusual and agonising 12 faults leaving the team plunging down the scoreboard to 8th overall.

Hamburg Diamonds took a strong second, with John Whitaker and Jos Verlooy also jumping clear, just shy of the fastest time in 161.94s. Third went to the London Knights, after Ben Maher and Kent Farrington teamed up once more, with both riders jumping clear but carrying through four faults from the previous round. Fresh from their win in Miami Beach, the pair were the ones to beat with top horses Don Vito and Creedance.

Darragh Kenny

Darragh Kenny

Uliano Vezzani's course was a tough test for the world’s best, featuring formidable oxers, a distracting water tray and delicate verticals. A challenging dog-leg back to the in-gate caught out a few combinations. Others rolled poles in the Longines combination set against the long side of the arena, where the challenge was the short four strides to a big oxer to finish in a time allowed of 84 seconds. The first of the related distances troubled several competitors with the majority of fences at maximum height, including a 1.60m plank, which was gappy, light and with no ground line.

There were thrills and spills aplenty throughout the class, with 14 riders going clear throughout. Kimberly Prince and RMF Bella Baloubet had a double refusal at the water tray, meaning that Miami Glory were eliminated, with teammate Scott Brash’s score not counting despite his phenomenal clear with Hello Annie. Home team fans were left disappointed as Shanghai Swans’ Daniel Deusser and the large-striding Clintop had the final fence down despite flying round in masterful style. Team mate Roger-Yves Bost rode a flying clear with Pegase du Murier, winning the class individually as the fans waved their burgundy and green Shanghai Swans flags. But it was not enough for the home team who finished in 10th overall.

Nicola Philippaerts, riding the popular H&M Harley v. Bisschop, also collected an unusual number of faults. The stunning dapple grey stopped in the second part of the double after crashing through the water tray. Another refusal from teammate Lauren Hough and Cornet 39 also meant the team collected a total of 40 faults overall, dropping them down the order and out of contention. Laura Kraut looked strong for the Rome Gladiators, however Zeremonie dropped her legs in the final oxer, kicking back to knock the pole and racking up points for the team total.

Marco Kutscher and Clenur kept their 'calm and steady' strategy, with the expressive duo jumping clear for the Cannes Stars. An unlucky time fault contributed to the team score of 9 after new recruit and German legend Ludger Beerbaum and Chiara had a pole down in the second round. Fresh from their win in Miami Beach, Ben Maher put in a sensational round with Don Vito for the London Knights, jumping clear in 76.61s, a full four seconds ahead of the rest of the field. The London Knights were on incredible form, with Kent Farrington also jumping clear for the team to shoot them up to third place and second in the overall rankings.

Hardin Towell and Lucifer V

Hardin Towell and Lucifer V

But it was the Paris Panthers combination of Jack Hardin Towell and Darragh Kenny who stole the show, taking the win in emphatic style in front of wowed local spectators. Both riders have looked on form throughout the event however proved to be unstoppable in today’s final, with both riders jumping clear and riding fastest with combined total of 155.99s. The League now looks to Europe, and Madrid, where temperatures will continue to rise as the battle for valuable ranking points moves up a gear.

Jan Tops, Co-Founder Global Champions League; "It was really exciting today and the more we run through the year the more exciting it will be. It is now very close (GCL ranking) with London Knights only 6 points behind Valkenswaard United and with St Tropez Pirates and Hamburg Diamonds and now Paris Panthers move up again. We are very fortunate to have a brand like BMW for a long-term contract in Shanghai. It is very good to be associated with and also for BMW it is a perfect fit. It is great to have Shanghai in our circuit."

Darragh Kenny, Paris Panthers (1st place team): "It has been a very successful weekend for me, he (Charly Chaplin) is an incredible horse and it was great for us today to win the team event. We had a strong chance to do well and were very positive about it. Hardin (Towell) had two different horses and it was a really fun competition."

Jack Hardin Towell, Paris Panthers (1st place team): "The weather today was fantastic for show jumping. Sometimes when it is hot it takes a lot out of the horses but it was not too hot here.”

John Whitaker, Hamburg Diamonds (2nd place team): "We had a good day. We perhaps played it a little bit safe but both double clear but not quick enough. Very happy with the horses and the way they jumped."

Jos Verlooy, Hamburg Diamonds (2nd place team): "I am very honoured to be in a team with John Whitaker, a rider I always looked up to and it is great to ride in the same team."

Kent Farrington, London Knights (3rd place team): "Ben and I had two really good horses for the class today, they’re both quick so when it comes down to time that plays to our advantage for the second round.”

Full house in Shanghai enjoying world-class show jumping.

Full house in Shanghai enjoying world-class show jumping.

GCT Third Stop - Shanghai

With little time for jet-lag and fresh from The Americas, the Tour makes its third stop in the spectacular destination of Shanghai, China from the 28th April - 30th April. Synonymous with glamour and new beginnings, Shanghai is renowned for its record-breaking skyscrapers which have sprung up where just twenty years ago there was only farmland, and the growing number of new show jumping fans in the region is developing just as fast. 

Whether you fancy a night in one of the world’s highest hotels, or a stroll through streamlined art-deco apartment blocks or the home-grown Lòngtáng Laneway housing, Shanghai has something for everyone. Though it’s most alive at the end of the day when the local population pour out of offices, food is the centre of social life and the culinary scene is wide-ranging and engaging. 

Many people visit Shanghai purely for the shopping experience. But if you would rather enjoy the renowned culture, art galleries offer contemporary local art and acrobatic shows are always close at hand. A massage is always popular with visitors if you are looking to relax in-between enjoying the world-class showjumping on offer in the heart of the city. 

Posted on April 29, 2017 .

Cassanto Claims the Derby at Aiken Spring Classic Masters

Cassanto with Liza Boyd and Stella Styslinger

Cassanto with Liza Boyd and Stella Styslinger

Cassanto and Liza Boyd solidified their partnership at the Aiken Spring Classic Masters, April 19-23, in Aiken, South Carolina, and the results were gratifying. The pair picked up the overall victory in the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby and earned the 3'6" Performance Working Hunter Championship.

Cassanto is a relatively new ride for Boyd, whose student, Stella Styslinger, is leasing him for the year. Boyd and Cassanto contested their first classes together on the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit, and this was their derby debut.

For the USHJA International Hunter Derby at Aiken, Liza's plan wasn't necessarily to win, but instead for them to gain confidence in one another. 

"My plan with him was first and foremost to have a good experience," she said. "I wanted to ease him into another pressure situation (after Florida) and work on our partnership. Because of that goal, I wasn’t jumping all of the high options and was simply hoping for a nice ribbon and good experience."

Liza Boyd and Cassanto

Liza Boyd and Cassanto

After a solid Classic Round performance, Liza and Cassanto stood in second place going into the Handy Round.

"Havens Schatt was leading and so far ahead that I thought I was riding for second place," said Liza. "Havens had done all of the high options in the first round and handily won it. In the second round, my plan was to be handy but not risk jumping a big oxer and having it down. I stuck to my plan and did it. I was very handy and only jumped one high option vertical, and, as it turned out, that was a wise decision. Daniel Geitner was second to me by 1 point. It's a good thing I did the one high vertical. It's funny how strategy comes into play in these classes.

"It was good for me to do a derby and move forward," added Liza. "It was a competitive class and very exciting for the spectators, I think. For Cassanto, it was a good atmosphere, with lots of spectators and energy. I'm very happy with how it all turned out. We have plenty more classes to build on this spring, with lots of opportunities and stepping stones. I think I have him figured out now."

Liza also finished sixth overall aboard Lindsay Maxwell's Technicolor, a new ride for her.

Lindsay Maxwell and Technicolor

Lindsay Maxwell and Technicolor

"I was really proud of him. He's only 7 years old, and I don’t know how many derbies he's done, but it can't be too many," she said. "Lindsay was also champion on him in the 3'6" Amateur-Owners. She rode vey well and was first or second in every class. He's such a quality, beautiful horse. I think he really loved this horse show, where there are 20 strides between the fences, and he loved galloping on that field. Lindsay is a good rider and knows her horse well, so it was fun to watch them out there together."

Erin McGuire and Casallo with their fans.

Erin McGuire and Casallo with their fans.

Casallo and Erin McGuire reunited this spring after the gray warmblood returned from a lease. They placed 11th overall in the USHJA International Hunter Derby, "He's a wonderful horse, and Erin has so much fun with him," said Liza. "He's available for lease again, and I'm sure he won't be in the barn long!"

The Finally Farm team also cleaned up in the 3'3" Junior Hunters, where Maggie Hill and Shamrock topped the Junior Hunter Classic, Quatrain and Elly Ficca earned the section championship and Maggie took the reserve on Co Co Chanel as well as second in the Classic.

"Elly was really good on that big field and understood how to gallop and go forward out there," said Liza. "Quatrain jumped beautifully and had a great time. Maggie was reserve and won the Classic on Shamrock. He loves her, and it's so interesting for me to watch them. He’s really found his calling with her and being a Junior Hunter. I think he'd still be good with me in the derbies, but I can see how happy he is doing this job. He just loves it and is so overqualified. They are a great match."

Sarah Isgett and Fieona

Sarah Isgett and Fieona

Sarah Isgett returned from the University of South Carolina to resume her summer showing with Finally Farm. She earned the Adult Amateur Hunter, 18-35, championship aboard Finally Farm's Fieona.

"It was their first show back, and they were great. They improved each day," said Liza. "She's such a hard worker and team player. I want to credit USC coaches Boo Major and Hillary Dobbs. They've done a great job, and riding all those different horses has been great for Sarah. She's riding so well."

Liza also enjoyed time in the show ring aboard a fancy new prospect named Gratis. The 5-year-old gray earned the Baby Green Hunter Championship for owner Karen Lackinger.

"She sent him to me just before Aiken and had bought him in an auction in Germany sight unseen," said Liza of the Hanoverian (Gray Top--Akazie). "She studied his pedigree and bought him to be a future derby horse. I'm really excited to have him in the barn, and for him to do so well in his first horse show is thrilling. He has a great brain. I haven’t jumped him very high yet since he's so young, but he feels very scopey and eager. She bought him to bring him up the hunter pipeline, and it will be so much fun to bring him along. He’s a pleasure to work with, cute and willing, and seems to have the right balance and talent to be a derby horse--that natural god-given canter, with a good rhythm. I'm super excited."

Liza Boyd and Karen Lackinger's Gratis

Liza Boyd and Karen Lackinger's Gratis

Posted on April 24, 2017 .

Finally Farm Makes Memories in Miami

Stella Styslinger and Cassiana

Stella Styslinger and Cassiana

The Finally Farm training team of Jack Towell and Tamara Berkowitz traveled to the Longines Global Champions Tour in Miami to soak in some sun and secure some ribbons with the backdrop of waves washing ashore.

"Miami was great," said Jack. "It's really an amazing venue. Right outside the arena you see the water, the yachts and all of the people on the beach."

In addition to training Stella Styslinger who competed in the 1.10 and 1.15m classes, Jack cheered on his son, Hardin, who piloted Lucifer V and New York in the 5* events. Miami was the second of the 15-leg Championship Tour, which attracts the best grand prix riders in the world. Hardin is right among them, placing fourth in the Saturday's Table A 1.55/1.60m class.

Hardin Towell and Lucifer V

Hardin Towell and Lucifer V

"Hardin is in the biggest league now and riding against the best there is in the world," noted Jack. "He was in the top 10 three times and fourth in one class at Miami. He just had some bad luck in the last grand prix, where his horse cut in a little around one corner, shifted and had a jump down. But he was great and was right there."

Hardin is currently ranked ninth in the GCT 2017 world rankings, with earnings of more than $43,000 this seasin so far.

Stella made attending the Longines GCT in Miami one of her primary goals for 2017, and she achieved it with success. Aboard Cassiana, Stella competed in the 1.10m and 1.15m classes, with a highlight being their fifth-placed finish with a double-clear performance. 

Stella Styslinger and Cassiana

Stella Styslinger and Cassiana

"Stella rode really well. She had one time fault in one class and was fifth and double clear in another. She'd never done anything like this before, so I couldn't have been happier," said Jack. "The courses were really hard and technical, with related distances. She hasn't been doing the jumpers long, and only practiced in Florida, but she was very comfortable doing it. She brought her whole family, too, and I think they really enjoyed the whole experience."

Special thanks to The Book LLC for the fantastic photographs!
 

Posted on April 21, 2017 .

Stars in the Spotlight: Jack Hardin Towell

Special thanks to the Longines Global Champions Tour for featuring Hardin Towell in their "Stars in the Spotlight" article!

Release date: 17/04/2017

Photo: LGCT / Stefano Grasso

Jack Hardin Towell, better known as Hardin to his friends, is one of America's rising show jumping stars. Humble, grounded and infectiously enthusiastic, the 29 year old American has been quietly smashing his goals and rising through the levels to where he is now counted as one of the top show jumpers in the world. Ahead of LGCT and GCL Miami Beach, we caught up with Hardin to talk teams, tactics and taking stock of how far he's come.

Hardin, just give us a little background – your family is one with a history in the sport... That's right, my father is a professional; I grew up riding and my sister is also a professional – she competes in the hunters. I've been riding since I was a kid although I actually didn't like it that much when I was younger, I liked to play baseball and football! But I grew up and I realised that this is what I was going to do for my living – I wasn't going to make any money playing football or baseball so horses it was!

 Was there a moment then where you said, 'ok this is for me, it's time to put the bat down'? I wasn't great when I rode ponies but then I started to improve a little bit. I had a little success when I was around 13 or 14, I started to enjoy it and saw that what I did was pretty cool. That's when I decided that it was what I wanted to do.

We've seen you on the Longines Global Champions Tour these past few seasons, what has been your experience of it and what differentiates it from competing on any other type of circuit? The shows are amazing. The destinations are amazing. I was lucky enough two years ago to win one of the big classes in Miami Beach on the first day. Everywhere you go on the GCT if you win classes or have success it's very highlighted – there's a lot of publicity. They're great shows. I've been lucky to take part these past two years and this will be my third year competing in the GCT and my second in the GCL.

Do you think the event in Miami Beach changed the game a little bit here in the United States? I do. I think there are a lot of Americans who are taking part in the GCL, and I think Miami has helped with that. People got excited last year – it was the first GCL – and I think it has helped a lot.

Last year you travelled to quite a few of the LGCT events – which ones stood out for you and what was your best experience? Well last year I won a big class in Shanghai, so that would be the best one for me! Mexico City was amazing, and Miami was great as always. I did Shanghai which I liked – maybe because I had a good week! And I also did Vienna which was very nice. I was lucky enough to be on a team with Laura Kraut and Emma Heise for the GCL Rome Gladiators; they gave me a nice opportunity and it was a very good experience for me to be able to compete.

Tell us a little about the Rome Gladiators, the team with whom you were competing for the GCL last year. What was your experience of that? I really liked it. The first one I did was Mexico City, and it was tough. It was bigger than I think a lot of people expected and a new format. I didn't have a great result so I wasn't thrilled with how I performed for the team there. In Shanghai my horse jumped well, but I was still a little disappointed in myself so it was nice in Vienna that Laura Renwick and I ended up second and I jumped double clear. I felt good that I could put in a nice effort for the team and I could contribute. I went into Vienna very focused on the team event and I'd brought my horse specifically for the show with that in mind and it worked out.

When you ride second in particular there is a lot of pressure. There's no drop score and you want to do the best you can for the team, so it's fun – I really enjoyed it last year and I'm looking forward to it again this year. Our team [the Paris Panthers] this year will be great. We have Jennifer [Gates] who I can't wait to ride with, Darragh Kenny who is one of my best friends, Lillie Keenan as another U25 American and Nayel Nasser who lives in California. We know each other very well and it's a good group. Two of the riders, Jennifer and Lillie are U25 and then the rest of us are under 30 so it's a cool, young team and I'm looking forward to it.

What do you think the GCL offers to fans of the sport? It can bring a new following to the sport. It's a new concept. Last year was great but it was the first year. This year the format is a little different – and I think the way it is going to work this season will be even better. There is serious money and world ranking points so I think you're going to see people using their best horses and really fighting for it.

Your team sounds strong... Yes, and we're not coming to a competition without trying to win! We all have different horses. Nayel's horse is very careful and I think would be great for Monaco and the smaller rings. So at the moment we're going over the team dynamic, which horses are going to suit which venues and we need to be strategic about it. Hopefully it pays off!

You also train Jennifer, how will it be competing on a team with her? I'm looking forward to it. In the past couple of years it's been quite fun as both Jenn and I have reached the next level. It's actually sometimes more difficult for me when she's showing as I'm so nervous for her! It's nice that we're going to be able to do this together. It does [have a family feel], we're all good friends so it's going to be fun.

What advice would you give to someone looking to compete on your level in the future? It hit me last year actually when I was talking to one of my friends as I was leaving Mexico. I was frustrated with how my results had been, and he said “you know what Hardin, take a deep breath – look, you're showing in Mexico, you're showing at the best events in the world, enjoy it a little bit.”

You put so much pressure on yourself that you don't get to enjoy the ride sometimes, and that's where I've recently tried to take a deep breath and realise if I keep doing what I'm doing with my horses, it's eventually going to happen. You're going to have rough times where you're not going as well but if I look back to five years ago, I never thought I'd be jumping these shows. That version of me would be delighted to be competing at this level. With this sport you just have to keep going and working hard – you'll never know when you'll find a great horse and move up the ranks.

One thing to remember is you need to take time. You won't get from 1400th in the world to the top 30 overnight. You need to have a plan.

Two years ago I said to myself: 'by the end of Spruce Meadows I want to be in the top 100 in the world' and then by the end of that year I wanted to be in the top 50. It's been a few months now and I've stayed in the top 50. You have to pick stepping stones and then look at the final goal.

You're also very knowledgeable about the sport... There are riders like Bertram Allen or Darragh who are amazing, absolutely amazing. They can do anything. Then there are other people who don't have as much talent but have worked hard and are smart – it's like with any sport; smart with how they point themselves. I feel like you need to know, you need to be a fan of the game. I might not have the talent that those guys do, but if I point towards a certain goal when my horses are going right, on any given day I can still beat them. You need to understand the sport and be a fan of the sport, especially as it's evolving – even in my lifetime if you go back and watch videos from the Olympics in 2000, it's crazy to compare it to what it is now. You need to understand the sport to change with the times.

Posted on April 18, 2017 .