The Finally Farm team enjoyed showing at the new Tryon International Equestrian Center during Tryon Spring 5, May 13-15 in North Carolina.
Pony Lane Farm's Sterling stepped up to the plate for a home run in the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby with Liza Boyd aboard. The First Year Green horse, in his initial year contesting the hunter derbies, jumped to an impressive second place.
"I'm so proud of Sterling," said Liza. "In the first round in that big stadium, which is intimidating, he was great. In the first round, which is the Classic Round, I took all of the low options and he was third. Then, when I went back in for the Handy Round, I thought about what I should do.
"Kelley [Farmer] was there and had five horses in it that all did the high options," Liza continued. "I thought, 'You know, he was really brave and confident in the first round, and he's got to learn sometime.' If he makes a mistake during the learning process then that's OK. If he doesn't, then I thought that we could move right up in the standings."
Liza's plan worked, and Sterling didn't miss a beat. "He even beat Mindful in the handy," said Liza of Kelley's winning derby contender. "I would find it hard for Brunello to beat Mindful on any given day. I actually didn’t know that Sterling was quite there yet, and he proved he is. It was a huge feat."
Liza said Sterling even accomplished one tight inside turn that Mindful didn't make, and Liza chose every single high option.
"I think he impressed a lot of people," she noted. "We knew he was a cute horse but didn’t know he had that scope. I’ve never asked him before, so I didn’t know either. He really stepped up, and I couldn't be happier. He would have won the whole thing if I’d done the high options in the first round. But I also look at it the other way: I could have knocked one down. I’ll take second behind Kelley and Mindful any day!"
Sterling also performed beautifully for owner Maddy Thatcher, taking top calls in the 3'3" Amateur-Owner Hunter section over the weekend.
"She’s such a great owner and cheerleader," said Liza of Maddy. "We try to balance it out. I don’t think people realize that I look at the show schedules weeks before to map everything out. He’s a horse we bought for Maddy, so our main priority was for her to show him here. But it's good for him to do the derbies or First Years to keep him learning."
This week Liza chose for Sterling to compete in the derby on Friday night and the Amateur-Owners over the weekend, bypassing the First Year Greens to keep him fresh. They even gave Sterling extra time to sleep in on Saturday morning. "When he was done showing Friday night it was so late we just decided to leave him braided," said Liza laughing. "He didn’t need to be worked in the morning, so he just walked from his stall to the ring. He had all Saturday afternoon to rest, too. I don’t think he got overworked, and we both had a great show with him."
Addison Byrd and Too Cool also had a great show, taking the 3’3” Junior Hunter championship with a near-sweep of the section. They won four out of five classes and took second in the only one they didn't win. Their scores included an 88 and an 86.
"They truly had a standout show," said Liza. "Addison is winding down her junior years and will go to college this year. She just has the summer left, so it was so nice to see her so consistent round after round."
The one blue ribbon that Addison didn't win still returned to Finally Farm. Lily Bennet and Maraschino captured that over fences class with a score of 87 as well as the reserve championship. In addition, during one class the top four ribbons all went to Finally Farm horses and riders, with Trinity and Mary Carton Mitchener and Quatrain and Laura Critz also capturing excellent placings throughout the section.
Maggie Hill traveled from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and competed one day in the Pre-Children’s Hunter section, earning a blue ribbon aboard Nevada to take home with her. "She's going to lease the veteran Nevada from Caroline Clark Morrison to do the Pre-Children’s, and we're so happy for her," said Liza. "He’s perfect at the 2’6”."
Liza's daughter Elle Boyd had an exciting week. In addition to showing Otis in the Walk-Trot classes and earning a blue ribbon, she donned a blue cap and gown for her Pre-Kindergarten graduation ceremonies.
'We were very glad we were able to make it to her graduation," said Liza. "My dad [Jack Towell] and I went in for the ceremony and then ran out to the car to catch a flight to Devon. When the kids went up to get their diplomas, their teacher said something about them.. When Elle stepped up she said, 'Elle Boyd said when she grows up she wants to be like her mommy and be the A rider. When we asked how much money she was going to make, she said $2.' Grandpa was laughing about that one. It was so cute."
Finally Farm's next stop is the Devon Horse Show & Country Fair in Pennsylvania, May 21-31 where the team will contest classes during Junior Weekend and open week.
Special thanks to the Finally Farm photographers for their fun images!