When reflecting on the great successes of the Finally Farm riders during the Camden Spring Classic, April 2-6, in Camden, South Carolina, trainer Liza Boyd was especially proud of one of their smallest riders, Catherine Sharp.
Catherine guided I Candy to the Small Pony Hunter reserve championship and won the Pony Hunter Classic.
“She scored an 84 in the first round, which was so fun to see,” said Boyd. “We don’t have many children start with us as young as she did. She’s been with us for a year now, and it’s been so rewarding to see how her riding has improved and how educated she’s become in that time.
“She’s very dedicated in her lessons and also traveled to Florida to show with us,” added Boyd. “This pony is a little harder to ride than her others, so it’s been a huge transition in her riding. She’s like a little sponge, though, and soaks it all in.”
Boyd said lately she’s been helping Catherine to focus on her position. “If she’s in the right place in the saddle, she has better body control, and her consistency in finding [the takeoff spots to] the jumps is so much better.”
Boyd noted that many pony riders slide their leg way back behind the girth to kick their ponies forward. That motion in the saddle can throw the rider out of balance, and she can lose the proper position. Instead, Boyd advises riders to keep their leg underneath them and turn their toes out and squeeze right behind the girth instead of taking their leg off the pony.
“It’s those little things that can make a big difference between getting the distance correctly or getting a chip,” said Boyd. “Body control in the air is also important, so we worked on that as well in the ticketed warm-up classes. We worked on rollback turns and having Catherine step into the outside stirrup to prevent her pony from diving in during the turns. It’s all about position and track, and if you’re in a better position on the backside of the fence, it will help you find the next jump correctly.”
The equitation riders also benefitted from trainers Boyd and Jack Towell, who continued fine-tuning their positions and performances.
Sarah Isgett guided Vasco to the blue ribbon in the Pessoa/USEF Medal class, while Grace Howard rode Wahalla to third place. Addison Byrd and Friend Request rounded out the Finally Farm domination with fourth place.
Byrd also collected second places in the ASPCA Maclay and WIHS Overall, while Isgett took third and Howard fifth in the Maclay.
“All three girls are really progressing this season in the equitation,” said Boyd. “Two had never done the equitation before this year, and they’re really figuring it all out and riding very well.”
Isgett and Howard also tackled the $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby with their equitation horses to experience the added pressure under the lights as well as the more technical courses.
Howard and her Junior Hunter Bethel’s Peri rose to the derby challenge, claiming 10th in the Handy and Overall. They also earned the reserve championship in the junior section.
“The Derby was really good for him,” said Boyd of Bethel’s Peri. “He can be lazy, and on Saturday we had our first summer-like day, and he was really lethargic. Then, after jumping the derby that night, he was so much better on Sunday. He woke up with more spark and won both classes. Stepping up and having him do the derby in that atmosphere made him a better junior hunter the following day.”
The Finally Farm trainers also enjoyed helping some horses and riders who met them at the show, including Jamie Steinhaus with North C, who placed sixth in the $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby.
Emily Gaskin also traveled from Savannah, Georgia, to work with Finally Farm, and picked up top ribbons in the Children’s Hunter, 15-17, section with her flashy pinto and fourth in the NAL/WIHS Children’s Hunter Classic.
New horses also made their debuts with Finally Farm students. Sarah Orberson and Clark 57 and Brie Tiffany with Milky Way both competed in the Children’s/Adult Jumper section.
“They had a great show on their jumpers,” said Boyd. “Brie had never done jumpers, so it was great for her to go in there and get nice ribbons. Sarah’s young horse will be great amateur horse with some more mileage.”
Boyd always enjoys the Camden Spring Classic, held just down the road from their Finally Farm.
“Everyone comes and sits on the hill and watches the derby at night. It’s actually the first show where I thought, ‘I’m ready to get back in the ring again,’ ” said Boyd, who is expecting her second child in June. “It’s a really fun spring show, and show manager Rick Cram does a good job and sets nice solid derby courses.”
Special thanks to the Finally Farm resident photographers for their great images this week!