The Finally Farm riders and horses concluded an incredibly successful horse show season with dozens of blue and tricolor ribbons during the Atlanta Fall Classic Horse Shows, held November 5-16 in Conyers, Georgia.
As a special bonus, the past two weeks also provided some great news for Finally Farm riders outside the show ring in Georgia.
West Coast-based Hardin Towell guided Jennifer Gates' Lucifer V to an impressive fifth-placed finish in the $75,000 Las Vegas CSI-W Grand Prix. Hardin now stands second in the FEI World Cup standings for the North American East Coast League. A trip to the Longines FEI World Cup Show Jumping Final in April could be in his future!
Hardin also enjoyed victory as an owner, when the Thoroughbred Fifth Business, whom he co-owns with his father Jack Towell, Ian Howard and Partners, broke his maiden during an Allowance Race for 2-year-olds at Woodbine Race Course.
Finally Farm also received word that student Sarah Isgett has officially signed with the Carolina Gamecocks Equestrian Team for 2015!
"Sarah has ridden with us for the past two years, and we are so proud that she achieved this goal," said Liza. "She and her mother started this process when Sarah was in ninth grade, and they did all of the research, attended camps and followed the program. I'm so happy for them!"
Sarah will continue training and showing with Finally Farm, competing in the jumpers before heading off to USC next August.
"There were so many highlights these past few weeks that it's hard to remember them all," said trainer Liza Boyd, laughing.
Maddy Thatcher's two weeks of Atlanta were particularly special as she concluded an incredibly successful junior career with a few final victories.
"Woohoo junior career is a wrap!" she posted on her Facebook page. "Great two weeks in Conyers. Ally won the 1.30m, Show won both a 1.30m and 1.40m, fifth today in the high classic, Robbie earning two firsts last week and two seconds. Summer clean sweep in this week's division and was champion last week as well!!"
"Maddy and Scripted are a great match," said Liza. "They won two classes the first week and got great prizes the second week. This was her first time showing him, and she never even jumped over a line of fences before she went into the ring because she's been busy at school. We are really looking forward to seeing them together in the Amateur-Owners next year."
Erin McGuire collected a variety of top honors during Atlanta, including impressive performances in the jumper ring aboard Kasarr and the EMO Junior Amateur-Owner High-Point Award.
"They’ve been so consistent all year, and Erin just keeps getting better," said Liza. "She was double clear and third in the Classic, and I was really proud of her. She's learned this year not go crazy every time out, and her consistency is paying off.
"She had a breakthrough here in Atlanta, I think," continued Liza. "Sometimes Erin wants to get huntery and leans up and lets go the last stride, and then her horse doesn’t have as much scope. One night during Atlanta I was on Facebook and saw McLain Ward’s winning round from the Royal Winter Fair. I was like, 'Erin, go home tonight and watch McLain on Rothchild. Watch his position.' The next day she was so much better! After she went in the class she laughed and said, 'Oh my gosh, I’m channeling my inner McLain!' "
Liza said that because some riders are more visual learners, it's important to take the time to observe the best riders do what they do. "We all need to take more advantage of the great riders of our sport and watch them more and model after them," she said.
Liza took some of her own advice during Atlanta and earned top ribbons in the jumper ring.
"I'm really grateful to be able to show some of Maddy's horses in the jumpers to help prepare them for her," said Liza. "Riding the 1.20m and 1.30m classes helps me be a better Hunter Derby rider and sharper. I really do enjoy it, especially on Maddy's wonderful horses."
Liza's successful performances even impressed Alberto Ramirez, Finally Farm's longtime groom. "I came out of the ring and Alberto said, 'Wow! Liza Boyd is fast. What happened?'' It was pretty cute," she said.
In the hunter rings, Liza was thrilled to see Lily Bennett and Grayanna Grigg step up from the Children's to the Junior Hunter 3'3" section for the first time with excellent results. Lily rode her new mount Maraschino, and Grayanna piloted Beaujolais.
"They both rode really well for their first times at the new height," said Liza. "I want to extend a special welcome to Maraschino, who just joined the barn after Harrisburg. Lily and Maraschino competed in the Children's the first week of Atlanta to get to know each other, and then moved up and even won a class in the 3'3". They're a great match, and we're really excited for her."
Liza also gave a special thanks to Assistant Trainer Tamara Berkowitz who was called into duty at the in-gate when Jack traveled to Las Vegas to assist Hardin.
"It was a real team effort these past two weeks," said Liza. "Everyone really pitched in and helped, and the results really spoke well of the camaraderie everyone has together."
Finally Farm will now take a winter break from showing until the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival circuit begins in January.