The Finally Farm team had one of their most successful shows in recent memory during the Atlanta Summer Classic II, held June 18-22 in Conyers, Georgia.
With four championships, two reserves and more than 20 blue ribbons decorating the tack room banner, the color scheme was definitely primary this week.
Championship winners included: Erin McGuire, who collected the Amateur-Owner Hunter and the Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper with Casallo and Kasarr, respectively; Grace Howard who earned the Large Junior Hunter, 16-17, reserve championship and Grand Pubah (yes, that's really the title) championship; and Finally Farm's Chestnut Hill, who made his show ring debut a winning one.
Trainer Liza Boyd was thrilled with all of the Finally Farm results. "My dad said that everyone rode great throughout the week," she said. "It was one of those shows where everyone rose to the occasion, and the horses were all fresh and brilliant in spite of the start of the summer heat."
Liza was especially pleased with Finally Farm's 5-year-old Chestnut Hill, a recent import who stepped into the show ring for the first time under rider Hunt Tosh. Chestnut Hill won both over fences classes and placed second in the under saddle for the Hopeful Hunter tricolor honors.
"He's not that experienced, but he went in and went right around," said Liza of the warmblood gelding by Coriano Z. "He's got a really good brain and is so easy. He came over in April and has really impressed us. Jack bought him from a videotape. He's bred to be a grand prix show jumper, but he moves and jumps like a hunter with a lot of scope."
Grace Howard's success in the hunters also carried over into the equitation, where she won the Pessoa/USEF Medal class aboard Wahalla and placed third in the WIHS Hunter phase.
"Grace has gotten a lot stronger recently," said Liza of the 16-year-old. "She has started working with a personal trainer and with weight training, and you can really tell a difference. She's a lot stronger physically, which helps with the equitation and the hunters."
Jack noted that Bethel's Peri got better and better each day, culminating with the victory in the Large Junior Hunter Classic and the grand title. "I think the horses can really tell a difference with Grace's riding. She's fit, and they're fit, so consequently their confidence level is high. Also, I think riding Wahalla in the equitation has helped Grace become a better junior hunter rider. More time in the ring is really a key component as well."
Elizabeth Fogleman also earned a shout-out from the Finally Farm trainers during Atlanta. In addition to her nickname of "Mommy Liz" for keeping everyone organized, she also rode Fonteyn HF to top ribbons in the Amateur-Owner Hunter section.
"Jack said that they had one of the best rounds the mare has ever had," noted Liza. "She does all of her own horse care, so kudos to Liz for having the mare in such a good program. She's always turned out impeccably, and Liz does a great job."
Although Liza isn't back in the show ring yet, she's back in the saddle at home and preparing for the Charleston Summer Classics, where she'll resume showing. On Monday June 23, Liza rode three young horses and schooled Brunello over fences.
"We're almost back," she said smiling. "Brunello was great. Tamara [Berkowitz, assistant trainer] and the girls have kept him really fit. It was great to jump him again. We did a 3'3" course, and he makes you feel like you're a good rider because it's all so easy for him. We've worked up slowly, from cavaletti exercises to 2'3" and 2'6" courses, to today.
"We're getting him back in jumping form, developing his muscles. In between, he does a lot of hill work in the fields," added Liza. "He also spends time on the treadmill, too, but not on jumping days. If he has a light hack or just goes out in the paddock, he'll have a session on the treadmill for further conditioning."
Liza's plan is to give Brunello two solid months back in the show ring before the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships in Kentucky in mid-August, where she hopes to defend her title. "I'll take him in a 1.10m jumper class at Charleston and then, hopefully, be ready for the Derby during the second week of Blowing Rock in North Carolina," she said of their upcoming schedule.
In the meantime, Liza is busy on the farm in Camden with baby Adeline, almost 4 weeks old, and 4-year-old Elle, who is enjoying summer camps and taking lessons on her ponies.
Jack and Lisa Towell left on June 24 for Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta, where they'll spend time with son Hardin and his jumpers.
The next stop for the Finally Farm team is the NCHJA Annual Horse Show, June 25-29 in Raleigh, North Carolina.