Despite the historic flooding in the Carolinas last week, Finally Farm, based in Camden, South Carolina, escaped with little damage. Our hearts go out to our friends who weren't as fortunate, and we continue to support and assist those in need.
Although the weather at this year's Capital Challenge Horse Show in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, September 27-October 4 wasn't without some rain as well, Finally Farm horses and riders rose to the occasion to overcome the trying conditions for some excellent performances.
Liza Boyd's ride aboard Bridget Hallman's Gala resulted in the Future Hunter Mare Championship over a super field. In addition, the pair placed third in the Future Hunter North American Championship, where they earned 172.65 points in the two-round competition, with averages of 86.47 and 86.18.
"She really stepped up in that indoor ring during the Championship, and she went forward and jumped beautifully," said Liza. "Third was a great ribbon in that company, with Hunt Tosh and Jen Alfano taking first and second. It's been a fun class to watch over the years because so many of these Future Hunters have gone on to be top Green, Junior and Amateur hunters."
Liza last piloted Gala, a 7-year-old Oldenburg, for trainer Rachel Kennedy during the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship in August, and she felt a difference in the mare's confidence level.
"She just seemed a bit easier and more focused," said Liza. "Maybe it's because Bridget and Rachel have more miles on her, or maybe she learned a lot at Capital Challenge! I did a lot of flatwork with her and worked to have her come off my leg. She was really going well and was never less than fourth in her classes. Rachel and Bridget were so fun to work with, too, and I enjoyed being a part of that team."
Once again, Liza contested the WCHR Professional Challenge class with Laura Critz's Quatrain, where they placed sixth. This year, Liza didn't quite have enough points to qualify for the WCHR Professional Finals on Friday night, and she finished eighth in the WCHR National Professional Standings. She and Quatrain also earned the reserve championship in the 3'6" Performance Hunter section behind Cold Harbor and Hunt Tosh.
"I think this is the most competitive it’s been to qualify," noted Liza. "You had to have four strong WCHR horse shows during the year and then do well here at Capital Challenge. The numbers were big as well, and I think that’s good for the sport, that it’s becoming more and more competitive."
Liza was also pleased with Quatrain's performances and enjoyed riding him at the Capital Challenge again after clinching the WCHR Professional Finals win in 2013 with his help. "The Pro Challenge is always fun, and it was great to be in there and get a top ribbon," she said. "I show Quatrain here and there to warm him up for Laura, but I hadn't done him for a while. He's such a good horse and great in the Show Place Arena here. The 3’6” is really his niche, and he'll now be for sale because Laura is a freshman at Wake Forest University. She’ll show him at the National Horse Show in Kentucky next month, and then we'll look for a new home for him. I'll sure miss him, but I know he has a lot of years left to be someone’s star Junior or Amateur-Owner hunter."
In the pony sections, it was Elly Ficca and It’s All Good who were awesome. The pair placed fourth and fifth over fences in the Medium Pony Hunter section on the second day, which was arguably the most competitive pony section at the show with 40 top-quality entries.
"That was such a tough division," said Liza. "Everybody from California to the East Coast brought out their top ponies. I watched that last day, and any one of the top eight could have won. To be fourth and fifth was huge! Elly was also sixth in the WCHR Pony Challenge, which was amazing. I was so proud of her. That kid is especially good under pressure. She stays the same, whether it's a small or a big show, and she handled the pressure really well. Sadly, she's now outgrown and aged out of the Medium section, so It's All Good will be for sale after the Washington International Horse Show. I look forward to seeing her carry this momentum forward for their final show together."
Liza also praised pony rider Ruby Sloan for her fifth place over fences aboard Highlands Heaven Sent. "She rode great, and it was the same thing there as with Elly, a great ribbon in excellent company.
"Ruby has learned so much this year. She's never been to indoors before and it was a big deal to go and show at Capital Challenge," added Liza. "I think she might have been more star struck if she hadn't gone to the Winter Equestrian Festival in Palm Beach last year, but that experience helped her so much because she showed against the same kids there. She ended up 14th in the WCHR Pony Challenge, just out of the ribbons, but to be in that company was so great for her."
Both pony riders will continue on to the Pennsylvania National at Harrisburg for their next indoor competition this week.
Likewise, Lily Bennett will head to Harrisburg with some nice ribbons under her belt from Capital Challenge. "Lily did a great job with her Junior hunters, including Maraschino and Carasco," said Liza. "She hasn’t been doing the 3’6” for too long and she really showed some nice efforts. She should be ready for a great Harrisburg."