Finally Farm enjoyed success at the Washington International Horse Show, October 20-25, from ponies to the $125,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Qualifier.
Trainer Liza Boyd brought two pony riders from their home base in Camden, South Carolina and met up with her brother Hardin Towell, now residing in California. The pair spent lots of quality time together and enjoyed cheering one another on while their father, Jack Towell, followed their results online while training clients at the Tryon Fall 6 Horse Show in North Carolina.
Middle schoolers Ruby Sloan and Elly Fica both had excellent performances on their Medium Ponies. Highlands Heaven Sent and Ruby placed third in the Handy class with an 83 and picked up ribbons and jogs in other classes. Ruby also placed ninth in the WIHS Pony Equitation Classic, where Elly enjoyed her best performance of the weekend, taking an impressive third place overall after scoring an 86 in the first round.
"I was really proud of both girls," said Liza. "I couldn’t have been happier with how they both finished, and it was a great way for them to end the year. They went to Washington and were prepared for the challenging courses in the hunters and the medal.
"It was also great to see them have so much fun," Liza added. "At night we all went back to the show and watched, and they met some Hardin and some of the other grand prix riders, and they were in awe of the whole experience. This show does a great job making everyone feel special. Behind the scenes for the trainers it's not the easiest show, but when you see how much it means to the kids it's so worthwhile. They watched Rodney Jenkins inducted into the Hall of Fame. They might have no idea who Rodney is, but they will always remember that night and couldn’t believe when I told them that Rodney was Jack's idol. They thought that was really cool."
Zola Thompson had also qualified for Washington with her pony Mr. McGregor, but an unfortunate injury meant that the pair had to skip competing. Zola wasn't going to miss the show, however, so she attended with her mother Alex, a member of the Washington International Horse Show Board of Directors, and cheered on her stablemates.
"Zola was a great cheerleader for the other girls, and she even presented the ribbons to Ruby in the Medium Pony Hunters," said Liza. "We were so grateful she was able to participate, and while she didn't get to show she had the best attitude and had fun as well."
Hardin brought Emilie De Diamant AS to take part in the CSI4* classes and to continue to earn points toward his second Longines FEI World Cup Finals berth next spring.
The pair were one of six combinations to jump clear over the Anthony D'Ambrosio-designed course and placed sixth with 8 faults in the jump-off.
"It was a big and tough class," said Liza. "It was great that they went clear in the first round, and we were all cheering him on. Unfortunately, Emilie stumbled after a fence in the jump-off, and with that small arena and huge fences there's really no room for error. She just got on her forehand and had the next two jumps down before she got her balance back. But to be sixth in that company was terrific, and Hardin got some valuable points. He's been so consistent this fall and is right up there in the standings."
Hardin currently stands second in the Longines North American East Coast League standings, A total of 14 athletes from the North American League will qualify for next year’s prestigious Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final, which will take place in Gothenburg (SWE) on March 23-28, 2016. The top seven athletes from the East Coast US, top three from West Coast US and the two best-placed athletes from Canada and Mexico will qualify for the Final, alongside winners of the 13 other leagues from around the world.
"I think being around the European riders has been so great for Hardin," added Liza. "It was fun to sit down with him over lunch and hear about what he's been doing. We don't get to spend much quality time together, so it was great. He's learned so much by just watching. [Top French rider] Eric Navet is at the barn [with him] and Hardin has soaked up so much knowledge. He studies what everyone does and tries to learn more and better himself all of the time, and that’s helped him as a rider. I'm really proud of him for being so open minded and learning from everybody."
During the Tryon Fall 6 Horse Show held in Tryon, North Carolina, Lily Bennett captured the Junior Hunter Championship with top ribbons in each class, including two blues.
"She was coming off indoors and The Pennsylvania National (Harrisburg) where she learned a lot," said Liza. "The courses at Harrisburg were technical and challenging, so it was great to see her return home and be successful in Tryon."
Stella Styslinger also earned multiple blue ribbons in the hunters and equitation classes. She was champion in the 3’3” Junior Hunters aboard Ellen Toon's veteran Invincible and also won the Pessoa/USEF Medal and ASPCA Maclay riding Centerfold K.
"This was her first show with Invincible, and the two got along great," said Liza. "I think he really liked her, and they also won the Junior Hunter Classic with 22 entries. They had a great time together!"
Laura Critz and Quatrain continued to rack up impressive placings, earning the reserve championship in the 3'3" Junior Hunters in preparation for their trip to the CP National Horse Show in Lexington, Kentucky next week.
Liza wasn't without her own successes, taking the USHJA National Hunter Derby blue ribbon during Tryon 5 and 6 aboard Fieona.
"She had time off earlier this year and is just coming back more and more strongly each week," said Liza. "We will probably do the USHJA International Hunter Derby at our next horse show. It's really nice to have her back. She's always been solid and scopey, and is there for you. She's 12 now, and I think she's hitting her peak. She feels better than ever, and I'm looking forward to doing more derbies with her."