For many riders, the prestigious National Horse Show is a major year-end goal, and for the 2014 edition, held October 28-November 2, at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, five Finally Farm horses and riders made the trip a worthwhile one.
"The horses were so great," said trainer Liza Boyd. "It was cold and snowy, and it was difficult to prepare, but they all went in and performed well and were so legitimate. All of the kids rode great and put it all together, and I was very proud of them."
Liza started out the week competing Pony Lane Farm's Scripted in the Green Conformation Hunter section, where they earned top ribbons in a competitive field. The pair shined especially bright in the Handy class, taking second with an impressive round.
"I really couldn't be happier with Scripted," said Liza. "We earned seconds and thirds, and I think the more I get to know him the more risks and tighter turns I'll be able to take in the Handy classes. But for our first big indoor show, and starting out at the National, I'm really pleased."
Liza noted that she and Scripted's former rider Kelley Farmer have different styles, so Liza tried to adapt to Scripted more than working on changing his way of going to suit her own preferences.
"I decided it would be best to ride him the way he liked to go," said Liza. "Kelley has more of a forward seat, so I tried to ride him that way. Now, over the winter I'll work with him and help him learn my style. I really believe that it's important to work together with my horses, and while I won't force him to change to match my style, I'll help him get more comfortable with my balance and slowly we will forge a strong relationship."
Amateur-owner rider Erin McGuire continued her excellent performances aboard Casallo, and they collected a variety of ribbons, including a second place in the first over fences class and seventh in the stake.
The Junior Hunter riders then added more ribbons to conclude the show. Laura Critz and Quatrain impressed in the Junior Hunter 3'3" section, with beautiful rounds over fences, including third in the Stake and fourth in the Handy.
Grace Howard and Bethel's Peri jumped to seventh in the Large Junior, 16-17, Handy class, while Stella Styslinger and Eloise picked up sixth place in the Small Junior, 15 and under, Stake.
"The show went really well, and I'm very happy that everyone went home with nice ribbons," said Liza. "It was a good experience, and I think they all progressed in their riding during the fall indoor shows, from the Capital Challenge to Harrisburg, Washington and the National. It's good for them to step up against the best competition.
"Even though maybe they didn't win, it's very rewarding to get a ribbon there," she added. "The National had very technical courses, a spooky ring and solid fences. They will go home now, and Conyers (the Atlanta Fall Classic shows) will seem easy."
Following the two weeks of Atlanta, November 5-16, Finally Farm horses, riders and trainers will take a break to celebrate the holidays.