The Finally Farm family celebrated many birthdays in November, including Jack and Lisa Towell's (no ages revealed!), but the most exciting and colorful was Elle's fifth birthday party.
Blake and Liza Boyd hosted about 25 children and their parents in Camden, South Carolina, where Queen Elsa, from the movie Frozen, made a guest appearance to entertain and pose for photo ops.
In addition, Queen Elsa brought her "reindeer" along, and a unique and colorful painted pony that provided rides for the party goers.
"We also had a hay pile with prizes buried underneath, and the kids all painted horse shoes and decorated them with puff paint and glitter," said Liza. "I think everyone had a great time."
No doubt some of those now-sparkling horse shoes taken home and hung on bedroom walls for good luck were recently pulled off the Finally Farm show horses.
Following the Atlanta Fall Classic Horse Shows, the show horses are taking a well-deserved break and some even had their shoes pulled.
"We walked through the barn and looked at each horse, taking into account their schedule for time off this fall," said Liza. "We had a busy show year, so we want to take advantage of down time because we don’t have it that often. We pulled some horses' shoes so their hooves can rest and return back to the shape they truly want to be. With our soft sugar sand paddocks, it's good for their feet. Even if it's just for two weeks, it seems to help many of the horses.
"It's really an individualized decision for each horse," added Liza. "For example, the jumpers with steel shoes were left on, and some of the hunters got steel shoes back on (rather than aluminum) for more support, and some completely got their shoes pulled off. We went over each horse with the vet, blacksmith, my dad and considered the goals for next year."
Liza's Derby Finals champion Brunello is one horse who will keep his shoes off a little longer than most. "I don’t think he’ll go to Florida this year," said Liza. "So his shoes might stay off for several months unless our January and February get pretty icy. But, for sure, his will stay off all of December."
The last time Brunello showed was the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships in August, and the last fence he jumped was the huge white oxer in the Handy Hunter Round. Liza hopes to repeat their successful season in 2015, so she's following a similar strategy.
"Our plan worked so well last year that I think we’ll stick with that program," she said. "My goal will be kind of like last year, to show Brunello in the summer and then the Derby Finals. I would love if he were back a little earlier, maybe the Camden and Aiken derbies in the spring. He’s going to stay home during Florida this year and relax and be a horse."
Finally Farm's longest stretch of downtime is during Thanksgiving, so they spent time organizing, cleaning and taking vacations while the horses lounged in their paddocks.
"We'll gear back up in December and then break again right before Christmas," said Liza. "After that, we'll all prepare for the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit in January. But, for now, it's nice to be home and have family time. The horses are all getting furry coats, and Jack can’t stand it! He said, 'You can't keep them clean!' But I like to let them be horses. Yes, they might look like furry goats, but they’re enjoying it!"