The Finally Farm team stayed home after the Aiken Winter Classic shows and enjoyed a variety of activities, lessons and preparation for the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival circuit at the end of the month.
Trainers Jack Towell and Liza Boyd taught lessons throughout the week and weekend, with ample time for testing new partnerships, figuring out recently acquired horses and fine-tuning established competitors. The week at home also allowed for pony rides and fun activities for the younger riders.
"We had a great week; everyone came for lessons and hung out at the barn," said Liza. "We are at home, but it's not quiet! It's good exposure for the younger horses, and we have time for lots of training. One of the best parts of the week was that Jack even rode and jumped. Everyone's used to seeing him flat the horses, but he hasn't jumped in a long time, and most people had never seen him jump.
"I think they were really surprised," added Liza with a laugh. "They said, 'Wow, we didn't know he was such a good rider!' Over fences, he loops the reins and is so soft, and he's really good at leaving that hunter gap."
Jack didn't just jump a few fences, either. He rode several newly imported horses and really tested them, jumping 25 to 30 fences while he worked on their training and "Americanization." Then, he came back to the ring the next day to do it all over again.
"By the third day, he was like, 'OK, I'm done; I can't walk!' I don't think he'd jumped in two or three years. It was really entertaining and educational for everyone, and I think they all learned from watching him," said Liza.
Finally Farm also celebrated Blake Boyd's birthday on Monday, January 20, with a cake and celebration ringside in the pavilion.
In addition to continued lessons and training, Finally Farm staff will spend the rest of this week preparing for departure on Monday for Wellington, Florida. Jack and Lisa Towell left for Florida on January 21 to set up and prepare for the arrival of the horses.
"We have 14 horses traveling down from Camden, and then we'll meet up with other clients and horses down there," said Liza. "We'll have about 21 horses competing on the circuit, from ponies to open jumpers."
In addition, Liza will reunite with her brother Hardin, who is in Wellington competing with his own barn and clients. Hardin has already amassed an impressive collection of ribbons over the first weeks of the circuit, including an impressive victory on January 15 in a field of 100 entries in the $6,000 Spycoast Farm 1.40m aboard Jennifer Gates' Cadence.