Six weeks after giving birth to her daughter Adeline, Liza Boyd returned to the show ring during the Charleston Summer Classic I Horse Show, held July 9-13 in Johns Island, South Carolina.
It didn't take Liza long to return to her winning ways, as she earned the First Year Green Hunter Reserve Championship with Finally Farm's Trinity, the Performance Hunter 3'6" Championship with Stella Styslinger's Eloise and the Pre-Green Hunter Championship and Reserve with Finally Farm's Diamond Rio and Bridesmaid, among her many ribbons.
To top of her first show back, Liza piloted Eloise to victory in the USHJA National Hunter Derby and Trinity to second place.
"It was awesome, but I was actually kind of surprised," said Liza of her success. "I’m such a planner, and for months and months I’d planned when I would start riding at home and when I'd show, and it was nice when you make a plan and it all comes out the way you want."
Liza decided to get back into the derby arena by competing in Charleston's USHJA National Hunter Derby. One of the show's highlight events, the 45-entry class took place in the evening with a dinner concurrently held under the tent, so it provided lots of atmosphere and ambiance.
"OK, I could have been handier in the Handy Round, but I said, 'Liza, you can't get too picky!'" she said laughing. "It had that feeling of a special class and was a perfect way to feel that show pressure but not be jumping 4'3" fences."
Eloise is a new face at Finally Farm but an old friend, as she'd previously been owned by Finally Farm client Molly Gardner. "I'd known her years ago, and I'm excited to have her back," said Liza of Eloise. "It's great to have Stella as a new client, too. She's doing a study in France right now so she couldn’t attend the show, but we brought the mare to keep her going before Blowing Rock. I'm happy to have her as part of Finally Farm."
Liza had never shown second-placed Trinity before Charleston. Finally Farm owns him in conjunction with Mrs. Janet Peterson, who also co-owns Brunello.
"Trinity won the Classic Hunter Round, and then since he’s still a First Year Green horse he needs a little more practice in the Handy Round. But I'm thrilled for the first show with him," she said.
Diamond Rio was added to the Finally Farm collection this spring, right after Liza had her baby. Liza's mother Lisa Towell spotted him at the Atlanta Spring Classic and brought him home.
"We just love him. We call him my mom's horse," said Liza. "I wasn't crazy about coming back and having another green horse to work with, but after I rode him and he gave me a great feeling, I was like, 'OK, mom, you were right!'"
Liza said Diamond Rio, a 6-year-old by Rio Grande, will show at Blowing Rock and then, if he feels ready, Liza will take him to the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship in Kentucky in August.
Liza also brought out her 2013 USHJA International Hunter Derby Champion Brunello for a spin around the show ring in the 1.10m jumpers. "He felt amazing! He was fresh and jumped super high and felt crisp. He felt better than ever. That was exciting," she said.
Liza noted that she and her dad Jack Towell have been working on conditioning Brunello in preparation for the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships, which is their ultimate goal for him this summer. The 16-year-old Hanoverian took a break from showing when Liza was pregnant, and, before Charleston, his last competition was in September of 2013.
"He's cardio fit, but he needed to be more jumper fit. We've been trotting a ton of jumps, from 2’9” to 3’, to get his stifles stronger. We don't normally do this, but it wasn't a normal year with my pregnancy," she explained. "My dad said it's too easy for him to canter 3'3" to 3'6" fences, so we really need to work on his push from behind. Trotting these bigger fences really helps him to use those muscles, when he has to squat down and really push."
Brunello's next outing will be Blowing Rock, where he'll do the jumper classes the first week before resuming his USHJA International Hunter Derby career during Week 2.
"We won't do any hunter classes before the derby," she said. "I want to keep that really new to him and just do jumper classes, where he has to stay sharp."
The Finally Farm horses and riders filled the tackroom banner overflowing with ribbons, from the pony hunters to the grand prix, where Kasarr and Erin McGuire placed fifth with a double-clear round.
"Everybody did amazing, and it was a really awesome show," said Liza. "We had nine championships and five reserve championships, and I'm so proud of everyone for their performances. The ponies and horses went so well, and I think everyone had a great time."
The Charleston successes come on the heels of the NCHJA Annual Show in late June, where Finally Farm riders starred as well. Under the leadership of Assistant Trainer Tamara Berkowitz, they topped a variety of equitation and hunter classes.
Bethel's Peri and Grace Howard captured the lion's share of honors in the Junior Hunters, taking the Grand Junior Championship, the 3'6" Junior Hunter Championship and winning the Junior/Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic. The pair also won the Overlook Farm Perpetual Trophy and the Lois K. Tighe Perpetual Trophy.
Aboard Wahalla, Grace also won the E.J. Haun Memorial Medal and placed second in the WIHS Jumper Phase.
Addison Byrd also made her presence known as she rode Friend Request to victory in the USEF Hunt Seat Medal and the ASPCA Maclay.