The Tryon Summer 3 Horse Show, July 8-12, proved to be another enjoyable time for the Finally Farm team with victories and tricolors from the Walk-Trot to the High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers.
One highlight was the return of Alison Thorp and Just Matt who clinched the Adult Amateur, 36 and over, championship after a long break from the show ring.
Just Matt, 16, has been a fixture at Finally Farm for many years. "Alison has had him since he was 4 years old," said trainer Liza Boyd. "Alison's Matt and Neil Sites' horse Doc have been around the barn the longest. I showed Matt in the First Years in 2005. He was second in the stake behind Indian Summer at Devon that year. It was funny. My dad called me on Saturday after Matt won both classes and said, 'It was like Devon all over again!'"
Alison and Just Matt step into the show ring on special occasions, and their last show together was nearly a year earlier at Blowing Rock.
"Alison doesn’t show a lot, but she comes out to the barn from Charlotte to hack him and take lessons twice a week when she's home," said Liza. "She says riding is her exercise and therapy. She loves coming to the barn, and half the time we chat about the girls for 45 minutes and lesson for 10. She's a great supporter and always watches any young horses we have. She’s been with us a long time, and it's fun to have her back in the ring. She just steps right up and is champion. For 16, Matt looks great and is jumping as good as ever."
In the Amateur-Owner 3’6" section Summer Place and Maddy Thatcher joined forces with her sister Kelsey (who rides with Our Day Farm) aboard Bugsy Malone to take the two tricolors. Chestnut Avenue and Joann Loheac also had impressive performances, taking second in the Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic.
In the Asheville Regional Airport High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers, Maddy and Kelsey tied for reserve champion with Maddy aboard Show Show and her sister riding Dulf Van Den Bisschop.
Too Cool and Addison Byrd continued their domination in the Junior Hunter 3’3” section, earning the championship. Mary Carton Mitchener won the handy on Trinity with a super performance.
In the pony ring, Highlands Heaven Sent and Ruby Sloan captured the Medium Pony Hunter tricolor and Zola Thompson earned the Small Pony Hunter reserve championship aboard Mr. McGregor for the second consecutive week.
"The pony kids were on fire," said Liza. " Zola was so consistent these two weeks. She had great rounds every time she went in the ring. It's so rewarding to see a kid get so consistent. And for Ruby to come back after her vacation and be champion was impressive. She felt a little pressure, but it worked in her favor. She rode great.
"I'm really proud of those girls," Liza continued. "They're really maturing and getting consistent in their riding. Both have come a long way in their riding in a short time. Even though they did so well at the show and with Blowing Rock less than a week away, they’re making the effort to come and take lessons. They're putting the time and work ethic into it, and it's paying off."
Liza's daughter Elle tied for the Walk-Trot championship aboard Otis Spunkmeyer in a similar fashion. After riding bareback on Friday morning and swimming in the afternoon, she returned to the show at 6 p.m. wanting to practice for the next day's classes. Even though it was dinner time for people and ponies, Elle wasn't going to be sidetracked..
"When she finally got on that evening, she said to me, 'Mommy, this pony is here for a reason!'" said Liza laughing. "She's really a quiet and mild mannered child, but she's fierce when it comes to the pony. It’s my own fault. That’s how I am. I must be prepared!"
Liza perfectly prepared Ballerino for his show ring debut this week. He claimed second in the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Stake and earned top ribbons in the Pre-Green hunters in his first show. "We got him in April, and Lisa and Jack (her parents) bought him from Arly Golembek," she noted. "He was imported from Argentina. We took him to shows this past couple of months and did the ticketed warm-ups to get him fit.. He was great here, really brave and quiet. He's quite a good jumper and just needs to get stronger behind. He has the brain and the disposition to be a derby horse, so we’ll see. You never know about a 6-year-old and what will happen, but I'm really excited. He got better in every round. He actually looks like a mini Brunello."
In fact, Brunello returned to the show ring here as well, making his 2015 debut. He and Liza jumped around in a 1.10m jumper class. "He trotted in and pricked his ears up. He was so happy to be in the ring," said Liza who is aiming for "Ike" to peak at the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship in August to try and defend his title. "He was clear with time faults! But he jumped around clear and bright and fresh, and he felt great. He did this one class and a ticketed warm up to keep him jumping fit. We're doing the same program we did last year. He will do another jumper class the first week at Blowing Rock, and then we'll aim for the USHJA International Hunter Derby the second week.".