Finally Farm's horses and riders continued to collect honors during the second week of the Aiken Fall series, the Equus Events' Aiken Fall Festival II, September 11-14 in South Carolina.
Grand championship awards were offered for the two-week series, and Finally Farm collected four grand awards, among many others.
Ruby Sloan and Patchwork Farm LLC's Burberry earned the Grand Pony Hunter Championship for their stellar performances in the Medium Pony Hunter section. As icing on the cake, Ruby also won the WIHS Pony Medal to conclude her two-week show.
"She started riding with us at Blowing Rock in July. She lives in Atlanta, and the pony lives with us in Camden, and it's all working out very well," said trainer Liza Boyd. "She's super enthusiastic and dedicated. She's another great example of a student who doesn't live nearby but commutes 3 1/2 hours. She and her parents [Michael and Nicole] didn't know how it would all work out in the beginning, but it's been a great experience so far."
Liza described Ruby as a sponge who soaks up knowledge quickly. When not showing with Finally Farm, Ruby and her parents travel to Camden on the weekends when Ruby takes comprehensive lessons to further her skills. "She had great basics from her trainer at home, so she was able to jump right in and learn," said Liza.
Burberry, a 10-year-old Welsh-Thoroughbred cross (Loafers Lodge Spring Ahead--Patroness) mare, earned a variety of top ribbons on the way to the grand championship. "Ruby's strongpoint over the two weeks was her consistency," said Liza. "Already we can see that her dedication, hard work and practice is paying off. Burberry has been a great first pony for her, and this grand championship was an excellent accomplishment."
In the Children's Hunters, Finally Farm collected accolades with horses and ponies. High Rise and Emily Gaskin finished up the Aiken series with the championship in the Children's Hunter, 15-17, section and captured the Grand Children's Hunter tricolor as well.
"Emily had an excellent show, but she also experienced a valuable lesson in horsemanship," said Liza. "In the THIS Children's Medal class, she was called in for testing but didn't quite get her horse going to the first fence after standing and waiting for the instructions. She chipped it and was popped off. She got mad after that and realized she needed to ride. She ended up winning in the hunters, and she rode great. I was really proud of her for bouncing back so well and improving her rides."
Catherine Sharp's Carolina Chrome, in his show ring debut at Aiken, swept the Children's Pony Hunter section, winning all five classes with rider Megan Rosenthal.
Carolina Chrome, an 8-year-old Welsh cross (Carolinas Red Fox--Rosebud) is a flashy chestnut medium who has a striking resemblance to Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome.
"We bought him in Florida this year, and it was right when California Chrome was so hot, so we couldn't resist naming him that," said Liza.
The Sharps, of Vienna, Georgia, keep the pony at the Towell's farm in Camden where he received a solid foundation before starting his showing career.
"They let him live with me, and he was the pony that I trained up before USHJA Derby Finals," said Liza with a laugh. "My dad was itching to train before the championships, and we didn't want to overwork Brunello, so Carolina Chrome became our project. He received a lot of training and is making up quickly."
Liza thanked Megan Rosenthal, a talented junior rider, for taking the reins in the show ring and giving Carolina Chrome an excellent first experience. "She couldn't have done a better job," said Liza. "He'll be one to watch next year in the Green Pony section with Catherine."
Liza earned her own grand championship at Aiken aboard Avatar Realestate LLC's Dalliance, the Performance Hunter 3'3" champion and Grand Hunter Champion.
Dalliance, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood by the famous jumper stallion Indoctro, was following in his sire's footsteps in the 1.25m-1.35m jumpers until he transitioned into the hunters in May.
"His owners and trainer Karen Flynn sent him to us because they thought he would make an excellent derby horse," said Liza. "He's quiet and scopey, and it's nice to have him here to show for a while until he finds a new owner. He hasn't been a hunter for very long, but he's got all of the good qualities from being a jumper, such as bravery, and he's quiet going around the ring. I think he'll make up into an excellent junior/amateur hunter and derby mount."
Trinity and Mary Carton Mitchener finished their show debut together with the Junior Hunter Grand Championship and the 3'3" Junior Hunter tricolor.
"I couldn't be more thrilled to see my own horse be so successful with his new owner. It's like sending your kid off and seeing how well behaved and grown up he's become," said Liza. "He's come so far as a First Year Green horse, and I'm so proud of Mary Carton for stepping up and figuring him out so fast. It's a great match and partnership."
Stella Styslinger also made her two matches at Aiken winning ones. She guided her own Eloise to the 3'6" Junior Hunter and Zone Junior Hunter Championships and took the show reserve championship with Kacie Fogg's Echo.
"She leased Echo for the two weeks so she could get more ring time, and they also placed second in the ASPCA Maclay and third in the Pessoa/USEF Medal," said Liza. "It just shows how time in the tack and time in the ring gives a rider more confidence."
Liza thanked trainer Daniel Geitner and Kacie for allowing Stella to lease Echo, which helped her to achieve her goals with Eloise. "That mare just gets better and better," said Liza of Eloise. "She did the USHJA Derby Championships with me and is great with Stella in the juniors. They've had a super year so far and qualified for all of indoors through the National Horse Show, so I'm really proud of them."