The Finally Farm team collected a variety of great wins and placings during the Equus Events' Aiken Fall Festival I, held September 4-7 in Aiken, South Carolina.
One of the highlights was the return of Addison Byrd's Too Cool. After nearly a year off from the show ring due to an injury, the 8-year-old bay warmblood came back to tricolor honors. With Addison in the irons, Too Cool earned the 3' Hopeful Hunter and Children's Hunter, 15-17, championships and collected six blue ribbons along the way.
"It was really exciting to see Addison and Too Cool back together again," said trainer Liza Boyd. "This was the first time we've taken him to a show, and he was great. They're a wonderful team. Addison has been doing the equitation on a leased horse while Too Cool was getting better, and she learned a lot and really progressed in her riding. At this rate, it won't be long until they're back in the junior hunters."
Addison, of Greensboro, North Carolina, also collected ribbons in the equitation with Friend Request. She placed second in the WIHS Jumper Phase, and third overall in the WIHS.
A new partnership was also born at Aiken, and it immediately became a winning one: Mary Carton Mitchener purchased Finally Farm's Trinity, an 8-year-old Warmblood-Thoroughbred cross (Popeye K--Comic Story). They made their debut in the 3'3" Junior Hunters, winning an over fences class in the section and collecting other top ribbons.
Finally Farm purchased Trinity last year as a hunter derby prospect for Liza, but after working with 16-year-old Mary Carton for several years and then competing Trinity this summer, Liza realized they might be the perfect match.
"It was fun to train Trinity and have him go so well this summer," said Liza. "He's learned so much, and then to see him go on and compete with a young rider is really gratifying. I want to congratulate Mary Carton on purchasing Trinity and winning their first class at their first show."
Mary Carton joins Laura Critz (with Quatrain) as 3'3" junior hunter competitors now successfully competing Liza's former derby mounts.
"It's hard to let them go," said Liza of her derby horses, "but I know it's a win-win for everyone. It means so much to see them doing so well with their kids. I know both of these horses can jump the big 4' fences, and I like to have my juniors over qualified. If they make a small mistake at that level, these horses can still do well and even win. We love our kids and want to see them have the best show ring experiences possible."
Laura and Quatrain continued their impressive winning streak, taking the 3'3" Junior Hunter Championship at Aiken, coming on the heels of their championship at Kentucky and grand championship honors at Blowing Rock. They currently stand third in the United States Equestrian Federation National Horse of the Year standings in the 3'3" Junior Hunters.
Maddy Thatcher took a short break from her first month at Clemson University to compete at Aiken, and she made her presence known with multiple championships and top prizes aboard her hunters and jumpers.
"We hadn't seen Maddy since Blowing Rock in July, because she was getting acclimated to school, but she didn't miss a beat," said Liza. "She made the riding team at Clemson, so we were so excited about that as well. She's been diligently practicing while at school, and she came to the show fit and prepared. We keep her horses fit and ready at home, so it all works out beautifully."
A few of Maddy's highlights included the Large Junior Hunter championship with Summer Place and fourth and sixth in the $15,000 1.35m Open Jumper Classic with Licapo and Show Show, respectively.
"Summer Place is her soulmate. My dad always says he goes better for her than anyone else. It's fun to watch them show together, and this week they won four out of the five classes, which says a lot about their strong partnership," added Liza.
Liza also gave kudos to Zola Thomson for her excellent performances at Aiken aboard Mr. McGregor. Zola, from Birmingham, Alabama, also commutes to train and show with Finally Farm, and her dedication and hard work continue to pay dividends.
"I'm so proud of Zola. She won the Pony Hunter Classic with her small pony out of all of the smalls, mediums and larges. That's quite a feat for a little 10-year-old," said Liza.
Liza also noted that Zola has worked especially hard during her weekend lessons, which prepared her well for the competition. After practicing handy hunter-type rides with rollbacks and inside turns at home, Zola used that new-found knowledge to also win the Small Pony Handy Hunter class on her way to the reserve championship.
"The lessons at home have really set her up well, and we make it all harder than it is at the shows," said Liza. "I feel like she was extremely prepared, and even though it was a technical handy course it seemed easier for her. It's also fun to stand at the pony ring and talk about having them jump 'left of center' and 'right to left' and know that they all understand the lingo because we work on it so much at home."
Finally Farm will also show in Aiken for the Equus Events' Aiken Fall Festival II, September 11-14.