Finally Farm Enjoys Family, Friends and Fun at Blowing Rock

 Liza Boyd and Clemens

Liza Boyd and Clemens

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

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

 Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show

Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show

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

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

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

 Maggie Hill receives the Casallo Trophy

Maggie Hill receives the Casallo Trophy

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

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

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

 Elly Ficca and Cleopatra's Smile

Elly Ficca and Cleopatra's Smile

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

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

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

 Libbie Gordon, Alberto Ramirez and Shamrock

Libbie Gordon, Alberto Ramirez and Shamrock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Abbie Gordon and Jack Towell with Robin Greenwood's Nominee

Abbie Gordon and Jack Towell with Robin Greenwood's Nominee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Erin McGuire and Kasarr

Erin McGuire and Kasarr

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

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

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

Posted on August 8, 2018 .

Two Towell Generations Star at Tryon Summer III


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

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

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

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

 Elle Boyd and Maddie Tosh

Elle Boyd and Maddie Tosh

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

 Elle Boyd and Hershey's Kiss

Elle Boyd and Hershey's Kiss

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

 Show Me Love

Show Me Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Adeline and Elle Boyd

Adeline and Elle Boyd

Posted on July 2, 2018 .

Accolades and Enjoyment at Country Heir


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Elle Boyd and Hershey's Kiss

Elle Boyd and Hershey's Kiss

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

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

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

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

 Elly Ficca and Cleopatra's Smile

Elly Ficca and Cleopatra's Smile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Liz Fogleman and Sawyer

Liz Fogleman and Sawyer

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

Posted on June 26, 2018 .

It's Devon Blues For Finally Farm

 Maggie Hill with trainer Jack Towell and Cassanto

Maggie Hill with trainer Jack Towell and Cassanto

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Elly Ficca and Cleopatra's Smile with trainer Jack Towell

Elly Ficca and Cleopatra's Smile with trainer Jack Towell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on May 31, 2018 .

Top Calls For Finally Farm at The Aiken Charity Shows

 Liza Boyd and Clemens

Liza Boyd and Clemens

The Aiken Charity Horse Shows at Bruce’s Field are always special. And this year the Finally Farm team found ample success as well as enjoyment, May 2-13 in Aiken, South Carolina.

Liza Boyd continued gathering ribbons and accolades in the USHJA International Hunter Derbies, piloting Clemens and Easter to second and third places, respectively, during Week 2.

“Easter has gotten better and better and is so brave,” said Liza of her newest derby mount owned by Leonardo Aljure. “I got her after Florida, and she’s been great. She was third this week and fourth last week in the Hunter Classic and has certainly paid her way. She’s a real derby horse, and the more I do with her the more I like her.”

Although Liza sees a bright future for the 9-year-old and would like to keep her, Easter is for sale. With her scopey jump and attractiveness, she’ll likely find a new home quickly. Liza also showed the mare in the Second Year Green section with great ribbons. She’s already qualified for USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships and the USHJA Green Incentive Championship at 3’9” to be held in August at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. 

 Liza Boyd and Clemens

Liza Boyd and Clemens

Liza credited Florida for helping Clemens step up another level in the derby classes. This show celebrated their one-year anniversary together, with Clemens owned in partnership with Westerly Farm and Finally Farm. 

“He’s coming around so well, and I really appreciated how they highlighted the hunters here. They made the double schooling area into a big ring for $25,000 Aiken Premiere Hunter Classic and Derby where Clemens placed third and second. It took a lot of effort to move all of the jumps, but then we were able to really gallop. It’s hard to beat Tori Colvin, and she won both classes on Private Practice! But I was pleased with how my horses both went.”

 Elly Ficca and Cleopatra's Smile

Elly Ficca and Cleopatra's Smile

Gigi Manigault and Bastille topped the field in the 3’3” Junior Hunters and also earned the Circuit Championship for the two weeks with a well-deserved championship.

“I want to give trainer Ron Danta and Danny Robertshaw another big thank-you for such a lovely horse,” said Liza. “Gigi and Bastille are a great match.”

Cleopatra’s Smile and Elly Ficca earned championship honors the second week in the 3’6” Junior Hunters, with Elly receiving the Best Child Rider Award after winning the Combined Junior Hunter Classic.

During Week 2, Maggie Hill took the equitation ring by storm, riding For Side VDL to victory in the 3’3” USHJA Jumper Seat Medal, the NHS 3’3” Medal and the WIHS Hunter phase. They placed fourth in the WIHS Jumper Phase as well. Maggie went on to win the Dover Saddlery/USEF Medal and place second in the ASPCA Maclay riding Charmeur.

 Liza and Elle Boyd with Hershey's Kiss

Liza and Elle Boyd with Hershey's Kiss

“She was amazing in the tests and doing hard inside turns,” said Liza of Maggie. “They were hard, technical courses and she was really prepared for the questions asked at Aiken. Charmeur is her lovely made up horse, and on her newer, younger horse we did the 1.0m jumpers to work on bending lines. He’s starting to get the equitation.” 

Erin McGuire and Kasarr added more accolades to their resume at Aiken. The pair won the Welcome Stake the first week and were ninth the second week. 

“Erin was great and was super pleased because these were some of the biggest classes she’s ever done,” said Liza. “She’s so good at looking the positives. The small mistakes were just Erin not having experienced that level. But she walked away confident.” 

The Gordon sisters, Libbie and Abbie, both returned home with ample awards. Libbie moved up to the 3’6” Junior Hunters on Shamrock and was second in the Junior Hunter Classic. Libbie was champion on the Large Pony Small Wonder and Green Pony Champion with Small Romance during Week 1. Both girls earned top ribbons in the USHJA Pony Hunter Derby and Pony Hunter Classics, as well.

Elle Boyd made her Children’s Pony Hunter debut a winning one and was champion with Hershey’s Kiss. The pair won three classes on the way to the tricolor.

The Finally Farm team reunited with some friends during Aiken. Bridget Hallman returned after time apart and had great ribbons with Gala in the Amateur-Owners, and Halston took nice prizes in the Green Hunters. 

 Team Finally Farm!

Team Finally Farm!

After competing in successfully in the ponies, Catherine Sharp is back in the show ring and competing in the 3’3” equitation with Imperio. “She had the pony Church Mouse, who went to indoors and did it all,” said Liza. “And now she’s back riding with us. We’re excited to have her here again.”

Please enjoy this photo gallery from Aiken and the following Tryon Spring 3, where Liza and Clemens won the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby and team Finally Farm earned yet more accolades!

Posted on May 14, 2018 .

Finally Farm Stars at Aiken Spring Classic

 USHJA International Hunter Derby winners Liza Boyd and Clemens, with daughter Elle and father Jack Towell.

USHJA International Hunter Derby winners Liza Boyd and Clemens, with daughter Elle and father Jack Towell.

Finally Farm collected top ribbons from the Short Stirrup to the USHJA International Hunter Derby to the Grand Prix during the Aiken Spring Classic Masters, April 18-23, in Aiken, South Carolina. 

"To say we had a great show is an understatement," said trainer Liza Boyd. "One amazing highlight was when Erin McGuire and Kasarr won their first Grand Prix together. She’s been showing here for years, so it was an incredibly emotional experience for us all. She does a great job with that horse, and her dedication is amazing."

To read more about Erin's win and her journey with Kasarr, please click here.

Another wonderful moment was when Liza led the victory gallop in the $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby with two of her students close behind her. 

 Liza Boyd with students Elly Ficca and Maggie Hill after the USHJA International Hunter Derby.

Liza Boyd with students Elly Ficca and Maggie Hill after the USHJA International Hunter Derby.

Liza won the derby aboard Clemens, while junior riders Elly Ficca, aboard Cleopatra's Smile, and Maggie Hill, riding O'Ryan, finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in their International Hunter Derby debuts.

"It was exciting for me to have two kids in the class. I've helped Elly since she was on a Medium Pony, and Maggie came to us doing the Pre-Children’s Hunters, so to see them come a long and be in that class with me was an exciting moment. They've both grown up and matured, and they're coming along so well with their riding," she said.

"This was a good first International Derby for both of them, coming from the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit in Wellington where they showed in the International Ring and Maggie did the WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular at night. They were well prepared," she noted.

Liza was also pleased with Clemens, the Hunter Derby horse owned by Finally Farm and Westerly Farm, who is coming into his own. The pair celebrated their one-year anniversary together with this victory at Aiken.

 LIza Boyd and Clemens

LIza Boyd and Clemens

"He was really good here, and, like the girls, he learned a lot in Florida," she said. "I competed him lightly down there, and I wanted him to return here this spring in a good place physically and mentally, which he has. He really stepped up and showed me some good qualities.

"In the Handy Round, I didn’t have to be too risky since I was winning," she said. "I did strategize and jumped all the high options but one in the Handy. I thought it was a good class for him. There are a lot of nice derbies this spring at Aiken and Tryon, and I'm really pleased he started out the spring on a good note and is ready to move forward."

Finally Farm also welcomed Abbie and Libbie Gordon to the team, as the pair from Statesville, North Carolina, will now be training and showing with Liza and her father, Jack Towell.

The Gordon girls started out strongly at Aiken, with Libbie riding Finally Farm's Shamrock to the 3'3" Junior Hunter reserve championship and the Junior Hunter Classic victory and Small Romance to the Large Pony Hunter championship. Abbie guided Farmore State Of The Art to the Small/Medium Pony Hunter championship and earned top ribbons in the same section with Show Me Love.

Liza credited the girls' mom, Susanne Gordon, and trainer Lynn Caristo Forgione for their excellent preparation and organization. "They get lessons from Lynn at home, and she goes over to their farm during the week and teaches them. She sends them to the horse shows well prepared for us," noted Liza.

Finally Farm also congratulated Maggie Hill on the purchase of her new jumper, Hope. It didn't take long for the pair to win their first blue ribbon and then take victory in the NAL Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic at Aiken.

"I want to thank my brother Hardin for finding Maggie this lovely mare," said Liza. "She has a big record as a Young Rider horse internationally. Hardin called me and told me what a great horse she was, and Maggie tried her. We left Hope down in Florida with Hardin for two weeks after the circuit finished, and Hardin gave Maggie lessons. They showed the week before last in Wellington and got to do a class in the big International Ring, so that was great preparation. They're going to be a great match thanks to Hardin."

New partners Bastille and Gigi Manigault also earned tricolor honors at Aiken, taking the Children's Hunter Championship and winning the NAL/WIHS Children's/Adult Hunter Classic.

"I want to thank Danny Robertshaw and Ron Danta and the Fauntleroys for this lovely horse. Gigi will move up to the 3’3” Juniors at the next show. They're a good combination and so elegant to watch. They seem to be figuring each other quickly, and I'm excited to see their partnership grow."

 Liza Boyd and Karen Lackinger's Gratis

Liza Boyd and Karen Lackinger's Gratis

Karen Lackinger's Gratis continued to collect more accolades, earning the championship in the 3’3” Green Hunters and winning the USHJA Green Hunter Incentive class. "He’s ready to step up and do the USHJA National Hunter derbies to prepare for the USHJA Green Incentive Championship and the Walnut Ring this summer," said Liza of the championship at the Kentucky Horse Park in August. "I'm really happy with the progress he's made. He's such a nice Green Hunter."

Lavasco and Paige Miller moved up to the 3’ Adult Amateur Hunters at Aiken to earn the reserve championship, and Liza credited her dedication for her success.

"I'm so excited for her and her great results," said Liza. "She doesn’t get to ride a lot. She's a mom and works and has several children, so riding and showing takes a big effort. Having children myself, I know what it takes and understand the commitment. I'm so happy she's had this success and is turning into a competitive adult rider."   

Paige's friend, Amy Nolan, also earned tricolor honors, taking the reserve championship in the 3’3” Amateur-Owner Hunter section with Curuba. "Amy came down for a month in Florida, but we hadn’t seen her in a while," said Liza. "She came to Camden for lessons the weekend before the show and was right where she left off. They were great."

Finally Farm's next outing is the Aiken Charity Horse Shows in May at Bruce's Field.





Posted on April 26, 2018 .

Erin McGuire and Kasarr Have That Fighting Spirit


After five years dedicated to one another, the amateur rider and her unlikely grand prix horse claim their first victory at the Aiken Spring Classic.

By Tricia Booker

When Erin McGuire tried Kasarr at the end of the 2013 Winter Equestrian Festival circuit in Florida, she wasn’t all that impressed. In fact, she recalled picking up the trot, trying to get him in front of her leg, and then pulling up to ask his owner if the horse could even get down the lines. 

“I’m not sure she understood what I asked, because she didn’t speak English and just nodded,” said Erin, laughing. “So, I kept going and Jack (Towell) put the jumps up to the top of the standards in the $20 ring, and he did it, so we had him vetted.”

After “Benny” passed the pre-purchase exam, he arrived at Finally Farm in Camden, South Carolina, where Erin met up with him again two weeks later.

“I walked in the barn all excited to see my new horse. I asked (barn manager) Alberto Ramirez where he was, and he grunted and pointed to the cross ties,” she said. “I looked over and thought, ‘Oh my God! Where’s my horse? They sent the wrong one. This is a pony!’”

The diminutive Benny stands “15.2 hands on a good day,” Erin noted. 

But from that inauspicious start, the now 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Gratianus—Liberus H) has grown leaps and bounds in Erin’s heart and carried her to her first grand prix victory on April 21 in the $25,000 Aiken Spring Classic Grand Prix in South Carolina.

“He wasn’t bought for this job, and at no point did I think I’d want to do this or actually do this and be successful,” she said of her grand prix career. “For whatever reason, this horse has more heart than all of my previous horses combined. He has such a fighting spirit. If you look at him, he’s small and built funny and shouldn’t be able to do what he does. But he just does it.

“Reflecting back, take a horse like Casallo, my Junior Hunter. I thought he’d be my horse of a lifetime, and he’s a great horse, but he had success with me and Liza and all of those who have ridden him,” said Erin. “He’s a really good horse. But with Benny, he’s performing for me. It’s not that I’m the best rider or he’s the best horse. We’re a team, and he performs for me. This horse is my pet now.”

Trainer Liza Boyd agreed and credited Erin for creating such a strong partnership and bond with Benny that has contributed greatly to their success together.

“She’s done an incredible job with that horse, and the dedication and hours she devotes to him have made him the horse he is today,” she said. “That little horse has exceeded everyone’s expectations.”

 Erin McGuire and Kasarr with the Finally Farm team

Erin McGuire and Kasarr with the Finally Farm team

Lows and Highs

Erin, of Cornelius, North Carolina, purchased Benny to be her Low Junior Jumper and as the horse she would take with her to the University of South Carolina. “I was aging out of the Juniors, and I had Casallo. I thought he was the nicest horse I was ever going to own, but my time with him was coming to an end. My mom said she’d buy me a jumper to ride but nothing fancy,” she said. 

Erin and Benny made their show ring debut at the 2013 Aiken Spring Horse shows.

“We went straight into the Low Juniors, and it was terrifying,” she recalled with a laugh. “It looked good on paper, but it was scary. We hit the ground running, and I fell on my face the first few times…literally and figuratively. I fell off in the speed class and then won the classic and we were grand champions. But it wasn’t all sunshine and roses!”

While Erin was off at USC focusing on school that fall and winter, the Finally Farm team traveled to the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit, giving Erin time at home to train and work with Benny. 

“The first year I’d been doing the 1.30m/1.35m, and had been doing well, so Liza said, ‘Maybe you can jump the grand prix at Aiken.’ The key word was, ‘maybe.’ I took it and ran with it!” said Erin. 

“I knew I wasn’t fit enough to do a grand prix, but my roommate at the time took me to a group fitness class, and I hated it. I wasn’t strong, and it intimidated me. I’d never touched a weight in my life. But I went once a week and started seeing results, and then I went three times a week,” she said.

It didn’t take long before Erin was totally into fitness and training, and she started working for Emma Williamson, a veterinarian and chiropractor who happened to also teach fitness classes. Erin then became an instructor herself, teaching weights, kickboxing and spin classes. 


Fitness quickly became a passion, and Erin said it made her a better rider—and not only because she’s stronger and fitter, but also mentally balanced.

“It changed my life,” she said simply. “Fitness became an outlet and took the pressure off of riding. For 17-18 years, I’d been defined by horses. I’d dedicated my life to it, doing online school and riding multiple horses. College and fitness gave me something else to take the pressure off my riding.”

That spring of 2014, Erin was well prepared to tackle her first grand prix. She and Benny competed in the 1.40m at the Atlanta Spring shows and she’d spent the winter in fitness “boot camp.”

The first week’s grand prix was canceled due to rain, however, so Erin and Benny competed in the Open Welcome class the second week. 

“I wanted to win that Welcome so badly, and I went so fast the horse turned out from under me and I fell off,” she recalled. “So, going into the grand prix that weekend I thought, ‘Here goes nothing!’ I’d already fallen off. 

“Liza wouldn’t even come to the schooling ring; she was so scared for me,” added Erin smiling. “I know she was thinking, ‘Those jumps are bigger than the horse! Why are we sending her in there?’”

In the end, Erin and Benny had a respectable debut, finishing 13thwith just one rail down in the initial round. 

“After that first grand prix, I was so happy to think we did it. One year ago, at this same show I’d face planted in the Low Juniors, and now I’d jumped around a grand prix like I knew what I was doing!”

Missions Accomplished

In between their grand prix debut and their first victory at Aiken four years later, Erin kept a solid plan of action and realistic goals while she attained her bachelor’s degree in psychology and then her master’s degree in sport psychology.

“I competed in more grand prix classes and in the High Amateur-Owners,” she said. “I had success here and there, but it’s not about the winning. I try to target horse shows where I’ll be competitive and also challenged. I’d rather be fifth in the grand prix than win in the Low Amateurs.”

Along the way she’s picked up lots of grand prix ribbons—even a few red ones—but that blue remained elusive.

More recently, with Finally Farm spending the 12-week circuit in Florida over the winter, Erin picked out a boarding barn closer to Charlotte where she could keep Benny while the Towells were away. There, she began working with dressage trainer Amanda Paris. 

“She’s very patient with us,” said Erin. “Benny is not a flat savvy horse, and when you ask him to go on the bit he’ll spend more time and effort trying not to do what you want. I tell him, ‘If you just gave in, life would be so much easier!’ But that’s what makes him such a special horse and a winner. He has that fighting spirit!

“Amanda’s not teaching us upper level dressage but functionally she’ll help us for the job we’re trying to do,” she explained. “That dressage training has given us an edge and helps us achieve our personal best.”

Erin noted that Amanda is just one of the many people who have helped her achieve her dreams in the sport, and she remembered the wise words veterinarian Diane Schiereck said to her when Benny was vetted.

“To her credit, Diane knew then and said, ‘Yeah, I think you’ll like what you have in this horse. I promise you, he’s more than you think.’”

 Erin McGuire and Kasarr in the jump-off

Erin McGuire and Kasarr in the jump-off

So, after adding a grand prix victory to what’s already an impressive resume, what’s next for the pair? 

“That’s the $1 million question,” Erin said laughing. 

“There was something that Liza told me after I won that hit home,” she continued. “I was crying and emotional because so much goes into it. You buy a horse and it doesn’t go well at first—you have good shows and bad shows. But you ride the horse when it’s 100 degrees, so you’re used to it and can have success at the summer shows. You ride when it’s too cold and all you can do is tack walk. That’s success. And then each victory is just as sweet. Liza said to hold onto the feeling and don’t ever take it for granted. Treat each victory as your first and don’t ever let it go. Now, it’s like, ‘OK. It could never happen again, or it could happen at the next show.’ I’ll treat every class like a brand-new slate. That’s good advice moving forward.”

Liza couldn’t be happier for Erin, and to have her first grand prix victory happen at Aiken made it even more meaningful.

“Erin’s been showing at Aiken since she started in the 11 and under equitation,” said Liza. “She then won everything in the Juniors and then steadily moved up in the jumpers. Winning the grand prix there was really emotional, and the whole horse show was happy for her and cheered her on, from the show management to the staff to the other trainers. Everyone really likes Erin and admires her hard work.”

 Erin McGuire in the 11 and under equitation at Aiken and 12 years later winning her first Grand Prix at the same venue, Highfields Event Center!

Erin McGuire in the 11 and under equitation at Aiken and 12 years later winning her first Grand Prix at the same venue, Highfields Event Center!


Erin is in no rush to decide on her next major competitive goal for good reason. She’s currently establishing a new business, Remarqueable Athletic Solutions LLC, where she’ll specialize in sport psychology, fitness and nutrition for athletes.

“For years, I thought if the stars align I might win a grand prix. And they did. There were nine in the jump-off, and Daniel Geitner went first and fast but had a rail down. I thought to myself, ‘Wow, I can win this.’ It was terrifying. Then, I had a burst of emotion. I’d been dreaming about this moment since that first grand prix in Aiken. I thought, ‘What am I going to do with all of this emotion?’ Yes, I can go in and ride poorly, but if I’m going to be a sport psychologist I’m not allowed to psych myself out. So, I talked myself down, and it was a testament to my sport psychology training. I did it.” 

While Erin thanked her family, friends and many supporters for encouraging and supporting her through the years, she said she wouldn’t be where she is in the show ring and in life without the Towell family and Finally Farm.

“I really can’t thank them enough,” she said. “They’re like family now. I’ve been with them going on eight years, and I came to them as an insecure, average rider with no social skills or personality. And what they’ve done for me as a rider and a person is wonderful. You can’t buy that; it’s all just so remarkable.”







Posted on April 26, 2018 .

WEF Wraps Up With Great Finishes for Finally Farm

 Maggie Hill and O'Ryan at WEF 2018

Maggie Hill and O'Ryan at WEF 2018

The 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival circuit in Wellington, Florida, was a huge success for the horses and riders of Finally Farm. In addition to ample tricolors and ribbons, the team earned great mileage and solid preparation for the rest of the year, created new partnerships and solidified existing ones.

"Overall, it was a great season. Everybody had a great time and experience," said trainer Liza Boyd. "Everyone left better riders, and the horses left fit and ready for the rest of the year. The weather was great, and everyone feels strong and confident heading into spring circuit."

Liza herself had a fantastic finish to the circuit, riding S&L Just A Cobbler to victory in the $50,000 USHJAN International Hunter Derby. After getting to know the 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Namelus R--Orabel) during the second half of the circuit, they peaked at just the right time.

 Liza Boyd and S&L Just A Cobbler won the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby during WEF 12.

Liza Boyd and S&L Just A Cobbler won the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby during WEF 12.

"He was amazing in the Derby. He got better every round and was sixth in the Classic Round and then won the Handy," said Liza. "I had a premonition that day, though. The day of a big class like that I’m usually not like, 'I'm going to win today.' But I woke up and thought for sure we were going to win.

"Then, driving to the show that day I was tired," she continued. "After 12 weeks of showing, I was exhausted and was having a little bit of a struggle with my epilepsy. Fading a little. So I thought, 'If I win, I’m going to give back because it's the right thing to do.' I decided I wanted to give the prize money to the Epilepsy Foundation. When I cantered in the ring, that vision helped me. I was doing it for a good cause, and it helped me rally."

Liza and her father, Jack Towell, then spoke to Cobbler's owner, Sam Edelman, who agreed to donate the prize money. 

"Epilepsy is one of those diseases that's not talked about as much as some of the others," said Liza. "It’s almost a stigma. I want people to become more aware of it and better understand that it's something a lot of us live with but that we overcome to live our lives and thrive."

 Liza Boyd and S&L Just A Cobbler

Liza Boyd and S&L Just A Cobbler

Since Liza and Cobbler became partners during the circuit, she and her team have worked hard to develop a training program that suits him.

"I do think we do some different things with him now that he's more mature," said Liza. "I'll often give him time outs. I'll drop my irons and stand in the schooling ring for a while or do a ton of trot jumps in the schooling area to relax him. It's the little things like that I've found he likes."

Liza noted that Cobbler rides more like a Thoroughbred than a warmblood. "When his blood gets up, and when he pulls you, you have to let go," she said, noting it's a different ride than many people use in today's show ring. "I'll pinch at the knee and drop him, and he likes it. It's an old-fashioned ride that seems to work with him."

The pair concluded the circuit in fourth place in the Equine Tack & Nutritionals 3'9" Green Hunter standings with limited showing. 

 Maggie Hill and For Side VDL

Maggie Hill and For Side VDL

Maggie Hill, 15, of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, earned her own circuit accolades, taking second place in the Small Junior Hunter, 15 and under, standings aboard O'Ryan and third in the Large Junior, 15 and under, standings with Cassanto. She earned so many points during the circuit that she placed 14th overall in the WEF Hunter Rider standings among all hunter riders--professionals, amateurs and juniors. 

"This was her first year doing the Junior Hunters on these new horses, and I couldn't be happier or more proud of how hard she worked and how much she learned," said Liza. 

Maggie finished the circuit with a new equitation horse named For Side VDL. "I'm really excited about him and their future partnership," said Liza. "He's a nice up-and-coming horse. He was a jumper and just started doing the equitation. They earned the reserve championship in the 15-17 equitation and were third in the THIS Children's Medal the final week. She has many reachable goals this year, and it will be fun for her to work with him and move up the levels."

Sarah Ekola and Zanzibar finished the circuit with one last blue ribbon in the 3’3” Junior Hunter, 16-17, section. By virtue of their consistent performances, the finished seventh in the circuit standings.  

"That was her last class and last day showing him, so what a wonderful way to finish," said Liza. "Her lease is up with Zanzibar, and he'll be going home."

While some partnerships conclude at the end of circuit, Gigi Manigault started one through the purchase of Bastille from Eliza Fauntleroy through trainers Ron Danta and Danny Robertshaw. "It's a great match, and we’re very excited for her to start showing him," said Liza.

Bridget Hallman’s Halston secured the 3’3” Green Hunter championship the final week of the circuit to end on a high note. Liza guided the 6-year-old to the blue ribbon in three of the four over fences classes. "It was a hard division. Two weeks ago Halston was champion in the 6-year-olds, had a week off, and then came back to do so well against many older horses. I'm really thrilled with how far we've come over the circuit."

Finally Farm will enjoy a break before resuming at the Aiken Spring Horse Shows later this month.

Posted on April 9, 2018 .

Liza Boyd and S&L Just A Cobbler Wrap Up WEF with Blue-Ribbon Finish in the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby

 Liza Boyd and S&L Just A Cobbler in their presentation with ringmaster Steve Rector, Elle Boyd, Katie Wood and Alberto Ramirez.

Liza Boyd and S&L Just A Cobbler in their presentation with ringmaster Steve Rector, Elle Boyd, Katie Wood and Alberto Ramirez.

Liza Boyd, of Camden, S.C., piloted S&L Just A Cobbler, an entry of S&L Farms, to the top of the field in the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby to conclude the last week of competition at the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival. The event was held over 12 weeks at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL, and awarding more than $9 million in prize money.

Boyd and her mount of four months bested 39 competitors out on the grass field at Equestrian Village at PBIEC with a total of 391.75 points.

Conducted in a normal hunter derby format, consisting of a Classic Round and a Handy Round, riders tackled Kenny Krome’s first course of 11 fences on Saturday to secure a spot in the top 25 for Round 2. Two panels of judges scored each trip, and additional points were offered for high option fences.

On Sunday, the leading 25 returned to the derby track for a Handy Round, which was also judged by two judging panels with high option points, however, bonus scores were additionally offered for handiness on course.

Boyd and S&L Just A Cobbler sat in sixth place going into the second day of competition with a 180.75, which was more than 8 points fewer than Hannah Isop and Red Ryder’s leading 189. The point different didn't faze the duo, however, as they clinched the leading title with a score of 211 in the Handy and remained unbeatable with a 391.75 total.

S&L Just A Cobbler is an 8-year-old KWPN gelding and consistent winner in the ring, having earned the championship tricolor with Boyd twice in the Green Hunter 3’9” division this circuit as well as a second place in WEF’s $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby ‘Hunt and Go’ during Week 4.

“This horse is a very different ride than we are all used to nowadays,” said Boyd. “He's more of a Thoroughbred type. I sort of just chuck the reins at him, and if he starts pulling at all, I just let go and he slows down. It reminds me of my childhood days with Monday Morning, and I love it. He's definitely a different ride than Brunello.”

Brunello was Boyd’s mount to win three consecutive USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships in 2013, 2014 and 2015, leaving S&L Just A Cobbler with a big name to live up to.

“I feel so lucky to have got him at a stage where he's ready to be very competitive,” said Boyd. “I have to give credit to the riders who rode him before me, and I think that he's a good example of a horse that's come through our Hunter pipeline, from the Pre-Green division on up. My dad, Jack Towell, and I have always loved Cobbler, and I would always envy him when I would watch him show at places like the [USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship].”

In addition to their big finish at the end of the week, Boyd and the bay gelding placed third in Friday’s $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Hunt & Go on Friday and continued to prove their abilities throughout the weekend.

“He got better and better every day on the field, and I really appreciate that WEF had the Hunt and Go format on Friday for riders and horses to get out on the grass and get used to it," she said. "I noticed that the judges were really rewarding galloping [today], and that there were not a lot of places to go inside, or to be too handy, so I think I really wanted to show off a bigger stride. My strategy was to keep moving and make sure that the jumps held him off, so he would jump high.”

 Liza Boyd and S&L Just A Cobbler

Liza Boyd and S&L Just A Cobbler

Jennifer Hannan, of Wakefield, R.I., took second-place honors aboard Kensel LLC’s Mindful and echoed Boyd’s thoughts.

“My horse loves to gallop, so it's actually much easier for us to do a handy-type class like this one,” said Hannan. “The course started to get a little challenging by the fourth fence, with a very up-and-down vertical at the top of the ring. There was a lot for the horses to look at, but after the trot jump, that’s where you could really start to get moving, and the judges were looking for us to do that.”

The duo also captured the blue in Friday’s derby and followed the same strategy going into today following a first round score of 179, and with a second round score of 205, gave them a 384 total to earn the second-place spot behind Boyd.

Samanatha Schaefer rode In The Know, an entry of her younger sister Madeline Schaefer, to the third place standing with a total of 383, following first and second round scores of 181 and 202.

“It's so fun to ride out there,” said Schaefer. “I try not to miss any opportunity we get to ride on the grass like this. I keep telling Maddie that I'm going to give him back, but I’m not going to. We have been doing derbies for two years now, and he always rises to the occasion.”

The three riders were excited about the additional hunter derby opportunities at this year’s WEF.

“The horse show has done a great job of introducing new opportunities for us, such as the National Hunter derbies on the field, and I would love to see one or two more derby classes next year,” said Boyd. “[Ultimately,] it's nice to be able to highlight our derby experience, and the more practice we can get as riders on the bigger fields the better.”

Following her memorable Easter Sunday, Boyd plans on donating her winnings to the Epilepsy Foundation, and expressed her gratitude for all the people involved in her big 2018 WEF win.

“I’m sitting in the winner’s seat right now because of Katie Wood, who works for me, and my dad,” said Boyd. “It’s a real team. This is a class I've always wanted to win, and I woke up with this special feeling this morning that it was going to happen. I'm usually the opposite, so I went into today with a good frame of mind. I think we as riders have to pump ourselves up in different ways, and after many weeks of showing, I had to give myself a goal and something to be grateful for. I’m glad it all worked out the way it did!”

Special thanks to Ava Lindsay for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc., for the press release.

Posted on April 2, 2018 .

Florida Wins Continue For Finally Farm

 Clemens and Liza Boyd

Clemens and Liza Boyd

Finally Farm spent the past several weeks collecting additional accolades in Wellington, Florida, on the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit during Weeks 7 and 8 and at the Deeridge Derby.

Liza Boyd and Clemens captured the coveted World Equestrian Center USHJA National Hunter Derby at Deeridge on March 3 as one of the major highlights.

Special thanks to Classic Communications for allowing us to reprint a portion of the Press Release:

March 3 - Wellington, FL - The majesty and grace of some of the world's best hunters were on display at the Deeridge Derby, part of the Palm Beach Masters series at Deeridge Farms, a spectacular world-class venue in Wellington, Florida.

Liza Boyd and Clemens, owned by the family's Finally Farm and Westerly Farm, won the $5,000 World Equestrian Center USHJA National Hunter Derby in convincing style. The pair had the highest score in the first round over the Steve Stephens-designed course, garnering a 92 and then topping that off with a 93 in the second round.

There was no question about how well they had done as they finished the final round, as Boyd's father, Jack Towell, enthusiastically voiced his pleasure for all to hear. Boyd adds this victory to her more than 25 USHJA International and National Hunter Derby titles. With her famous mount Brunello, she won the 2013, 2014 and 2015 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship.

"Clemens is an up-and-coming Derby prospect that I'm really excited about; he may even be my next Brunello," said Boyd. "The course today suited him. Steve Stephens and I get along really well. I just love the way his courses flow. He gives you a lot of bending lines that allow you to gallop; they are very inviting. The grass rode beautifully, the jumps were excellent, it was a really great experience for an up-and-coming Derby horse. I couldn't be happier."

 Clemens, owned by Finally Farm and Westerly Farm, receives his awards with Liza Boyd

Clemens, owned by Finally Farm and Westerly Farm, receives his awards with Liza Boyd

Finally Farm clients also enjoyed galloping around on the grass at Deeridge and picking up ribbons in the USHJA National Junior/Amateur Hunter Derby. Maggie Hill guided Charmeur to sixth and Shamrock to ninth, while Elly Ficca picked up seventh place aboard Cleopatra's Smile.

"It's so fun to have the kids doing these classes," said Boyd. "Seeing those girls step up into this atmosphere and doing these big classes is great. They're a great stepping stone to the International Hunter derbies they'll soon be doing."

Liza said their aim this week was the Deeridge Derby to give the horses and riders a change of venue. "It was also a change of pace for us, and we weren't running from ring to ring. It was nice for the riders, horses and grooms to have a more relaxing week. And to ride on the grass is a great experience for the horses and the kids!"

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Liza was also pleased that Elly and Maggie have made such great progress over the circuit with their new horses, and the added challenge of the derby was a testament to their hard work. While Elly commutes back and forth to ride and show, she manages to juggle riding and academics with excellent results. 

"The courses at Deeridge were really technical, with long numbers and it was a challenge to make the in and the out of each line match," she said. "This experience will help them both when they walk into a ring like Devon later this year."

During WEF 8, Maggie also picked up her first championship in the Junior Hunters with a well-earned tricolor aboard O’Ryan in Section A of the Small Juniors.

 Elle and Liza Boyd

Elle and Liza Boyd

"She was solid and consistent coming off Week 6, where she competed in the $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular," said Liza. "She was really relaxed and confident after doing that night class with Cassanto.

"It's really rewarding for Jack and I to see how far she's come," Liza added. "Two years ago she was doing Nevada in the 2’6” Pre-Children’s and now she's qualifying and showing in the night class in Palm Beach. Yes, she has a lovely group of horses, but she's also a very dedicated and hard working young rider."

Elle Boyd added another pony to double the fun in the Short Stirrup section. During Week 7 she was reserve champion on Otis Spunkmeyer and also earned ribbons aboard her new mount, Clovercroft Show Me The Bunny, owned by Ashland Farm.

"She'll have him for the rest of the circuit, and It's great. I told her, 'You can’t ride only Otis the rest of your life,'" said Liza laughing. "Jack helps her, and it's perfect because I can step back and he can be the coach and I’m the mom. This system seems to work really well for us, and Elle is having a great time."

Liz Fogleman and Sawyer moved up to the 3’ Adult Amateur Hunters for the first time and captured impressive ribbons. "I'm really proud of her and how she's brought him along," said Liza of Liz. "Going from 2’6" to 3' here is challenging. She competed in the Rost Ring, where the courses are technical and the jumps are solid. They were great."

Gigi Manigault also picked up top placings aboard Spyglass in the Children's Hunter, 15-17, section.. "We just started helping her and are excited to have her in the barn," said Liza. "Gigi is having fun with the girls and fits right in. I've been Impressed with her just hopping on the horse and not knowing him well. She's had nice ribbons and consistent rounds."

Bridget Hallman celebrated her birthday during WEF 7 with blue-ribbon results in the Amateur-Owner, 36 and over, Hunters by winning the stake class aboard Gala and earning a reserve championship in the Adult Amateur Hunters on Lulu.

 Maggie Hill and O'Ryan earned their first WEF championship together.

Maggie Hill and O'Ryan earned their first WEF championship together.

Posted on March 6, 2018 .