Hunt & Go Highlights WEF 4 For Finally Farm

Liza Boyd and Tradition

Liza Boyd and Tradition

Liza Boyd and Maggie Hill continued their successful Winter Equestrian Festival Hunter performances during Week 4’s featured $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby “Hunt & Go”. Liza guided Maggie’s Tradition to third place overall, and Maggie made her debut in this class format with 11th place in the Classic phase.

“We used this International Hunter Derby to help the horses peak for WCHR Week 6,” said Liza, of the class held on the expansive ring. “The horses will now have a relatively easy WEF 5, and a lot of the them will have the week off. They will be fresh and ready to go for Week 6.”

Liza was proud of Maggie’s skillful ride in the Hunt & Go, in which the first eight fences were jumped in the Classic format, and the remaining six fences were scored as a Handy.

Maggie Hill and O’Ryan

Maggie Hill and O’Ryan

“She did a great job on O’Ryan,” said Liza. “She had high scores in the Classic part, but there was a tricky turn in the Handy, and you had to be cautious to hold the horse’s lead. You had to canter in between hay bales, and because of that (small mistake), she had an error at the next high option.

“But after doing the derby, Maggie came right back and was champion aboard O’Ryan in the Junior Hunters,” continued Liza. “She’s just a lucky kid to have him; O’Ryan is a derby specialist, and he’ll give her great experience. The horses don’t ride the same around a derby course. You have to learn to manage their strides when they’re up and more nervous. It requires a softer but also stronger ride, because the fences are bigger. It’s a lot different than riding around a 3’6” hunter course in the Rost Ring.”

Liza explained that the Hunt & Go format also requires a different strategy than the typical two-round USHJA International Hunter Derbies.

“It took me a while to walk the course, because it’s a little trickier to figure out your plan,” she said. “First, it’s a longer course, and you have to think about everything all at once. It also requires a fitter horse, because they start to get tired, flat and strung out, so you have to manage them. I don’t think the high options weigh quite as much, either, and you also don’t get handy bonus points. You don’t see as many people risking a difficult inside turn like you would in the other format. It’s just a different strategy.”

In addition to earning championship honors with O’Ryan in the Small Juniors, Maggie also guided Cassanto to the reserve championship in the Large Junior, 16-17, section and received excellent ribbons aboard Tradition.

Just after finishing in the Junior Hunters, Maggie ran over to the Medium Junior Jumpers for the $10,000 NAL Classic, where she had just one rail and made the time allowed aboard the mare, Hope. “She just moved up, so I’m really proud of her for that round. It was well done, and she’s fortunate to have Hardin (Liza’s brother) and Darragh Kenny to help her, in addition to Jack,” noted Liza.

Libbie Gordon added to her ribbon collection aboard Tybee this week. The pair won a Large Junior, 15 and under, class and then added a second and three third-placed ribbons. This was their second week showing together. “They’re really cute going around and a great match,” said Liza. “They’ll have Week 5 off and aim for WCHR week.”

Gigi Manigault continued her excellent performances in the Low Children’s Jumpers with Cassiana, and Libbie competed her two mounts, Athletic Lady and Can-Do, in the High Children’s Jumpers.

Elle Boyd and Blue Moon

Elle Boyd and Blue Moon

Liza’s daughter, Elle, had success aboard Blue Moon in the competitive Children’s Small/Medium Pony section. “She was second in the last class with 30 kids and is really working on learning to manage the canter,” said Liza. “In the last line coming home, she’s sometimes too fast. So we’re working on her slowing down before she makes the turn for the next corner. She’s immediately landing and getting the pony back to the rhythm.

“A real light bulb went on this week for her,” added Liza. “At this point, we’re teaching her about track and pace and not as much about finding a distance. If you get the right track and pace, there will be a distance presented to you. Rachel Kennedy also helped me with that, which was really nice.”

The Finally Farm team then wrapped up Week 4 with a barn Super Bowl party. Special thanks to the Hill family for hosting!

Posted on February 4, 2019 .

Stand-Out Performances During WEF 3

Libbie Gordon and Tybee

Libbie Gordon and Tybee

Despite the rainy conditions over the weekend during WEF Week 3, the Finally Farm horses and riders shined brightly, January 23-27 in Wellington, Florida.

Bridget Hallman had a banner week with her horses, claiming a championships in the Adult Amateur Middle section aboard Who’s It. She guided the 9-year-old Selle Francais to victories in both over fences classes and second in the under saddle for a commanding win.

In addition, Bridget piloted Halston to two third places over fences in the same section. The 7-year-old Holsteiner also earned excellent ribbons in the Green Conformation section with trainer Liza Boyd in the irons earlier in the week.

Liza rode Maggie Hill’s Tradition to championship honors in the High Performance Working Hunters, including an impressive win in the Handy Hunter class. Maggie continued her own tricolor streak this week, earning the 3’6” Large Junior Hunter, 16-17 championship aboard Tradition, as well. Her Junior Hunters O’Ryan and Cassanto, tricolor winners in the previous two weeks, took some time off, and Tradition stepped right up to fill their shoes.

Libbie Gordon and Vistano’s consistency paid off in the 3’6” Small Junior Hunters, as they earned a reserve championship with top ribbons in most every class. In addition, Libbie rode Tybee to impressive ribbons in the 3’6” Large Junior Hunters.

“We added a new gentle giant to our barn,” said Libbie’s mother, Susanne, of the fancy chestnut Tybee.

Posted on January 31, 2019 .

More Wins at WEF 2 For Finally Farm

El Paso and Clara Saad

El Paso and Clara Saad

More ribbons were added to the Finally Farm banner during Week 2 of the Winter Equestrian Festival with more riders and horses joining in the fun, January 16-20 in Wellington, Florida.

The Gordon sisters, of Statesville, North Carolina, traveled south to escape the cold and snow and were justly rewarded. Vistano ands Libbie Gordon received excellent ribbons in the 3’6” Small Junior, 15 and under, section. “She had a great first week on him,” said trainer Liza Boyd. “He’s still relatively green and wasn’t imported until last summer, so we’re still working on teaching him to be a hunter. He’s a great little horse and has come a long way this winter.”

“Physically, he’s getting stronger, too,” she added. “He became a hunter in June or July and has been a fun project. We see him as being a derby horse for her, and I’ll do him in the beginning. He’s game and scopey and has a great character. He really gallops and backs himself up to the jumps. They’ve had a lot of snow at home, so they haven’t gotten to do a ton of practicing. Libbie hadn’t jumped a course in a while before coming here, so she’ll have a fun circuit and keep progressing.”

Abby Gordon piloted her new mount Delightful to championship honors in a section of the Low Children’s Hunters. The pair impressed, with two blue ribbons over fences and second in the under saddle out of 41 entries. “She’s only done the ponies, and he’s overqualified for the Children’s, but we like for them to be this way,” said Liza, smiling. “Now, she’s going to move up and do the regular Children’s at the next show.” 

Maggie Hill and Eclipse

Maggie Hill and Eclipse

Hamim Ourai and Annika Singh once again took blue ribbon honors in the Equitation 15-17 section. “She did really well, and now, in the second week, we’re getting to know her and her horses,” said Liza. “She’s a beautiful rider, and she’s fun to work with.”

Clara Saad and El Paso continued to gain great mileage and top ribbons in Low Children’s Hunters. “Clara and El Paso tied for Reserve Champion in a huge division this weekend at WEF- only his second show in the States. I think he likes it here,” said Clara’s mom on her Facebook page.

“I was really happy for her,” said Liza. “Clara only got to come these first two weeks, and they’re already headed home. She did a really good job, and the horse has come a long way in a short amount of time.”  

Paige Miller and Shamrock made their debut together in the Low Adult Hunters during Week 2. “It was a fun first show for them, and they’re a great match for the future,” said Liza.

Maggie Hill had an exceptional show during WEF 2. In addition to claiming the 3’6” Small Junior Hunter, 16-17, tricolor with O’Ryan, Maggie guided Cassanto to excellent ribbons in the Large section and piloted Eclipse to top ribbons in the big equitation classes.

“Maggie and Eclipse really hit it off,” said Liza of their new addition, leased from Northrun. “She was second in the ASPCA Maclay and was fantastic. Everything was seamless. I want to say a huge thank you to Northrun for Eclipse, and Maggie’s going to be a competitive one in this division. He’s a wonderful horse.”

Monday “Fun Spa Day” with Elle, Liza and Adeline Boyd.

Monday “Fun Spa Day” with Elle, Liza and Adeline Boyd.

Posted on January 22, 2019 .

Finally Farm Has Great Debut at WEF 1

Bridget Hallman’s Who’s It

Bridget Hallman’s Who’s It

Finally Farm had a fantastic start to the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival circuit with top prizes and tricolors in the Hunters, Jumpers and Equitation rings during Week 1, January 9-13.

Bridget Hallman, of Oyster Bay, New York, made her WEF debut with her newest horse Who’s It a winning one—earning championship honors in the Adult Amateur Hunter, 36-49, B section with two firsts and a second. Bridget also captured top ribbons with her Halston in their first time together in the show ring.

“This week was so exciting for Bridget. She rides them both so well, and Bridget and Who’s It are a great match,” said Liza.

Barn manager Katie Wood noticed the 9-year-old Selle Francais (Lamm De Fetan—Kaline De Cantilly), last year in Tryon, North Carolina, during a ticketed warm-up class and suggested Liza check him out. Grand Prix rider Todd Minikus was transitioning the bay from the Jumpers to the Hunters.

“I think I drove Todd crazy chasing him around the show grounds to get it lined up for Bridget to try him,” said Liza, laughing. “Bridget gave him the barn name ‘Woody’ after Katie’s last name. He’s a really game horse with a great personality. He was born to be a hunter and could definitely do the hunter derbies.”

Liza also credited Bridget’s team, including Ivan Rakowsky and Jacob Pope, for helping to prepare Who’s It for WEF. Minikus also gave Bridget a flat lesson on Who’s It in preparation for the show season.

Maggie Hill and O’Ryan

Maggie Hill and O’Ryan

“Ivan and Jacob took care of her in November and December before I got down to Florida,” said Liza. “Jacob did a lot of work with him and ticketed warm ups, and I think that’s why he transitioned so well. I did him in the 3’6” Greens as well, and he was great. We’re all very excited about him.”

Maggie Hill started her show season just where she left off last year—with tricolors. She guided O’Ryan to the Small Junior Hunter, 16-17, championship and Cassanto to the Large Junior Hunter, 16-17, title.

“It’s now a year later, and she knows those horses so well,” said Liza. “It’s so amazing how far they’ve come, and I’m so proud of these horses. They come through for us every year. O’Ryan, at 17, is as fresh and crisp as ever, and he looks fabulous. And Maggie has learned to sit still on him and has mastered the different rides between the two horses. With O’Ryan, you don’t have to use as much leg and keep a connection on him like you do with Cassanto. Her riding has become so sophisticated.”

Like Bridget, Maggie has also been settled in Florida for a while and has been riding a lot and training with Liza’s brother, Hardin Towell.

“Hardin’s been helping her on her jumper, Hope. It’s a nice balance between Jumper lessons from Hardin and Hunter lessons from us. She’s riding really well. Hardin and (business partner) Darragh Kenny of Oakland Stables are within riding distance of us here, so it’s nice to take the Jumpers over there to their big grass field.”

Finally Farm welcomed Annika Singh from Medina, Washington, to the family during WEF 1. Annika is spending three weeks with the Towells from her home base with trainer Morgan Thomas in the Seattle area. Although it was Annika’s first foray to Florida, she wasn’t fazed by the cross-country journey and captured an Equitation, 15-17, championship out of 50 competitors in a California split.

“She focuses on the equitation and brought two lovely horses, Charlie and Hakim Ourai,” said Liza. “It was fun to get to know her and her horses this week. She’s a very talented rider and a pleasure to work with.”

In the Children’s Jumpers, Ruby Sloan and Libertina jumped to fifth place in the Highs, while Gigi Manigault and Cassiana placed 11th in the Low Children’s Jumper Classic.

Gigi also moved up to the 3’6” Large Juniors on Bastille and had solid performances. “We’re very excited that she’ll spend the circuit competing down here with these two wonderful horses,” said Liza.

Liza’s daughter Elle Boyd made her WEF debut with Blue Moon in the Small Pony Hunters with impressive performances, including an eighth-placed ribbon over fences and ninth place in the classic. In addition, Elle is following in her mother’s footsteps and had her first-ever catch ride. She guided Delovely to second, fourth and fifth in the Children’s Pony Hunters.

Finally Farm also congratulated Paige Miller on the purchase of Shamrock and wishes her the best of luck as she shows him next week in the Adult Amateur Hunters.

WEF Fun Week 1 Gallery

Posted on January 14, 2019 .

Hardin Towell Leads Winning Team in USHJA Gold Star Clinic - East

The winning team of Cathleen Driscoll, Cameron Tague and Sydney Stephenson with Chef d’Equipe Hardin Towell and Lead Clinician Richard Spooner. Kaitlyn Karssen/USHJA Photo

The winning team of Cathleen Driscoll, Cameron Tague and Sydney Stephenson with Chef d’Equipe Hardin Towell and Lead Clinician Richard Spooner. Kaitlyn Karssen/USHJA Photo

From December 27-30, a group of 2018 USHJA Zone Team Championships Individual Medalists and select wild card recipients expanded their equestrian horizons by participating in the USHJA Gold Star Clinic-East Coast at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Towell, of Wellington, Florida, was one of the expert show jumping athletes chosen to help educate the clinic attendees and lead a team through the culminating Nations Cup-style competition.

After three days of mounted and unmounted instruction from top clinicians, covering a variety topics including stable management, horse health, breeding, press relations, flatwork and gymnastics, the clinic culminated with seven teams competing. Earning the victory was the team of Sydney Stephenson, Cameron Tague and Cathleen Driscoll, led by Chef d'Equipe Hardin Towell.

Driscoll, from Elk Mills, Maryland, received her spot in the clinic after winning the 2018 USHJA Emerging Athletes Program National Training Session. "[This sport is] not just about showing up every day and riding your horse; you have to want it. You have to want it more than anything else, and you have to be willing to sacrifice your time and money and put everything you have into this," she noted. "It really needs to be a whole-hearted passion."

The USHJA Emerging Jumper Rider Gold Star Clinics are part of the USHJA Emerging Jumper Rider Program, launched in 2017 in conjunction with the USHJA Zone Jumper Team Championships.

Tague, of Cream Ridge, New Jersey, clearly sees the benefits. "I'm already planning my show schedule leading up to the championships next year, so I can try to make it again,” she said. "The opportunity is just incredible. The amount of information we're getting is unparalleled to any other program this sport offers right now."

Each team consisted of three riders: one at 1.10m/1.15m, one at the 1.20m/1.25m and one at 1.30m/1.35m. One minor adjustment to the format was that all riders rode a full course in Round 1 and then an abridged jump-off course in Round 2, again allowing them another opportunity to put their knowledge to work. Continuing the invaluable experience, lead clinician Richard Spooner provided feedback and commentary following each rider's course.

"It's an absolute necessity for these young riders to have this opportunity," said Spooner, 47, who was a star in the equitation as a junior rider, and has generated his own successful show jumping career via years of hard work, and plenty of watching and learning. "It's a program I wish I had when I was younger," he continued.

Throughout the packed four days of mounted and unmounted instruction, riders learned from Spooner, Olympian Anne Kursinski, and their Chefs d'Equipe in the ring. They also participated in in-depth educational sessions outside of the ring, including horse care, stable management, course design and a highly informative roundtable discussion with show jumpers Lillie Keenan, Anne Kursinski, DiAnn Langer, Richard Spooner, Hardin Towell and veterinarian Geoff Vernon.

The USHJA Emerging Jumper Rider Program serves as the entry point for the Show Jumping Athlete Pathway, a joint USHJA-USEF effort that identifies and nurtures Jumping athletes as they advance through the sport to enhance future success for Olympic and international teams representing the United States.

For more information about the USHJA Emerging Jumper Rider Program, please visit:

For more information about Hardin Towell and his availability for clinics and coaching, please click here.

Special thanks to the USHJA for the press release.

Posted on December 31, 2018 .

Finally Farm is Thankful For a Great Show at Aiken

The Finally Farm team enjoyed a bountiful show during the Holiday Premiere, held at Bruce’ Field in Aiken from November 30-December 2 just after Thanksgiving.

Libbie Gordon and Tybee

Libbie Gordon and Tybee

One of several highlights was Libbie Gordon’s victory in the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby aboard Tybee in their debut together. Gordon is leasing the fancy chestnut derby veteran for the new show season, and they started out with a bang, also earning the reserve championship in the 3’6” Junior Hunters.

“The horse is seasoned to derbies, and even though it was cold and rainy this wasn’t new to him,” said trainer Liza Boyd. “Tybee jumped around the rain at last year’s USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship, so he was confident. But it was LIbbie’s first time showing him in a derby, and they did great. It’s a cute match, and she quickly figured out his ride. The fences at this height are easy for him, but he jumped in nice form. They will be a fun pair to watch in this winter in Florida, and I see them doing the International Hunter Derbies in the spring.”

On the flip side, Maggie Hill and Charmeur ended their partnership during the class when placing second to Libbie. Maggie’s lease ended, and the lovely bay goes back to Missy Clark and North Run. Finally Farm now welcomes Eclipse to the barn for the upcoming show season as Maggie’s equitation partner.

“Charmeur has been a great horse for Maggie, and we thank North Run for a wonderful year with Charm. We are looking forward to an exciting future on Eclipse,” said Liza.

Maggie Hill and Charmeur with Libbie Gordon and Tybee

Maggie Hill and Charmeur with Libbie Gordon and Tybee

In total, Finally Farm riders collected seven championships and two reserve championships at Aiken.

Libbie’s Vistano picked up the championship in the Green Hunter section. “We congratulate Libbie on the purchase of his nice horse, and we want to thank Ashland Farms,” said Liza. “We’re looking forward to seeing Libbie and Vistano in the Junior Hunters, and he’ll also do some derbies with me and the 3’9” Green Hunters.”

Mackensie Bowles’ Radar Love

Mackensie Bowles’ Radar Love

Mackensie Bowles’ Radar Love captured the championship in the 3’3” Performance Hunters with Liza aboard. “Mackensie goes to Clemson University, and he’s been with us to have some training,” said Liza. “He’s a lovely horse, and we’re excited for her to show him in the Amateur hunters in the future.”

In the High Children’s Jumpers, it was Gigi Manigault and Cassiana who dominated. The pair won two classes on the way to the championship.

“Gigi is a good jumper rider,” said Liza. “We had no idea she’d pick it up so quickly. I’m really impressed with how far she came in this time. This was her first time moving up to the highs, and she was really competitive and really fearless. She’s leasing Cassiana for the year from Stella Styslinger, and they’re a great match.”

Elle Boyd made her first appearance with the Small Pony Hunter Blue Moon a winning one.

Elle Boyd with little sister Adeline, Blue Moon and Hershey’s Kiss

Elle Boyd with little sister Adeline, Blue Moon and Hershey’s Kiss

“She’s worked so hard,” said Liza of her daughter. “Every day after school we practice, and she’s been having a lot of lessons from me and Jack (her grandfather), and she’s come a long way. She was champion on Blue Moon and won the Handy on Hershey’s Kiss. I want to congratulate Elle on the lease of Haley Ray’s Blue Moon!”

Clara Saad’s El Paso may have been recently imported from the Netherlands, but his first time showing in the United States didn’t faze him. “I’m proud of him,” said Liza of El Paso, who earned the 2’6” Special Hunter tricolor with her and nice ribbons in the 2’6” Pre-Children’s with Clara. “He went right in there and was quite good. We’re thrilled with him.”

Clara Saad’s El Paso

Clara Saad’s El Paso

Ruby Sloan was back with Libertina in the Low Children’s/Adult Jumpers after a break. “We’re glad to have them back in the barn. They had a nice first show back with excellent ribbons, and we’re looking forward to a successful WEF!” said Liza.

Elly Ficca bid farewell to her special partner Cleopatra’s Smile at Aiken because Elly ages out of the Junior Hunters. The pair concluded their time together wearing blue by winning the Junior Hunter Classic, the very last class they did together. “We were so excited for her to win,” said Liza. “What a great way to finish her junior career.”

Posted on December 12, 2018 .

Finally Farm Earns Top Calls at Harrisburg and Washington

Maggie Hill and Cassanto

Maggie Hill and Cassanto

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

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

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

Maggie Hill and Cassanto

Maggie Hill and Cassanto

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

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

Abigail Gordon and Nominee

Abigail Gordon and Nominee

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

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

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

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

Libbie Gordon and Shamrock

Libbie Gordon and Shamrock

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

Posted on October 31, 2018 .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Liza Boyd and Tradition

Liza Boyd and Tradition

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

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

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

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

Posted on October 25, 2018 .

Finally Farm Riders Reap Rewards at Capital Challenge

Maggie Hill, Equitation 15-Year-Old Champion

Maggie Hill, Equitation 15-Year-Old Champion

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

Maggie Hill

Maggie Hill

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

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

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

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

Alberto Ramirez and Cassanto

Alberto Ramirez and Cassanto

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

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

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

Maggie Hill, center, WCHR Southeast Regional Junior Champion

Maggie Hill, center, WCHR Southeast Regional Junior Champion

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

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

LIbbie Gordon and Shamrock

LIbbie Gordon and Shamrock

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

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

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

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

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

Liz Devor and Sawyer

Liz Devor and Sawyer

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

Elle Boyd with Jack Towell

Elle Boyd with Jack Towell

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

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

Posted on October 13, 2018 .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press release courtesy of the USHJA.

Posted on October 6, 2018 .