In between attending the USEF Annual Meeting to receive the USEF Emerson Burr Trophy, Liza Boyd and her father/trainer Jack Towell, enjoyed the first week of the annual Winter Equestrian Festival circuit in Wellington, Florida, from January 13-17.
Finally Farm horses and riders had an especially successful Week 1, with multiple tricolor ribbons as well as blues now adorning the tack room banner.
Liza started the week out strongly with the championship in the 3’6” Performance Working Hunter section aboard her newest chestnut hunter, Shamrock.
Finally Farm purchased Shamrock after the fall indoor horse shows, and Liza hopes the former event horse will become one of next derby stars. “He’s a very nice horse, and we’re super excited about him,” she said.
Shamrock and Liza made their debut at WEF on Wednesday in the Grand Hunter Ring, where Liza said with a laugh, “He jumped ridiculously high.”
Nevertheless, several horsemen at the rail noticed him and gave Liza the thumbs up. “He jumped so high and careful that we decided not to do Second Year Greens at 3’9” with him this week,” she said. “There’s no rush.”
Instead, Liza and Jack pointed Shamrock to the 3’6” Performance Working Hunters on Thursday.
“I really wanted him to show one more day,” she said. “So, he went in and was brave and careful and won both classes and was champion. Mentally, he’s still a little green, but on Thursday he was so focused and relaxed. I was so proud of him.”
Liza will assess Shamrock’s progress each week before deciding which section he will show in. She’s also doing the same with Pony Lane Farm’s Coronado, the third chestnut in her string who competes in the First Year Green section. She hopes the trio will be ready to compete in some of the USHJA International Hunter Derby classes later in the circuit and also during WCHR week in mid-February.
“I don’t know if Shamrock and Coronado will be ready for the WCHR Hunter Classic Spectacular under the lights in the International Ring, but if they do qualify and compete they would leave here better horses,” she noted. “I hope to take all three to HITS Ocala for the $100,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. In addition to the greener horses, I will still have Ike, so the pressure is on him. He can handle it! Shamrock and Coronado can go in learn and go home by the spring ready to rock and roll in those derbies.”
Stella Styslinger made news during WEF 1 with her championship in the Small Junior Hunter, 16-17, section, and was featured with O’Ryan in the Equestrian Sport Productions News on January 16, distributed by Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Stella Styslinger and O'Ryan Top the Field in EnTrust Capital Small Junior Hunters 16-17
The EnTrust Capital Small Junior Hunter 16-17 division finished today, and a new combination took the championship. Sixteen-year-old Stella Styslinger of Birmingham, AL, and O'Ryan won the top tricolor after winning two over fences classes, adding fourth and fifth place ribbons, and placing second in the under saddle.
Styslinger is still getting to know O'Ryan as their partnership just formed two weeks ago. "This is my first horse show with him," she said with a smile. "I have two large juniors. He rides pretty similar to them. I've had [them] for a bit longer, so it's helped me ride [O'Ryan] better. He almost rides like an equitation horse, but he jumps and moves well enough for the hunters. He's so easy and is as quiet as he can be. He's easy to deal with."
While she is still learning about him and his quirks - "He likes to be by himself and do his own thing. We give him treats, but he likes to be alone," she described - Styslinger is excited about the great start to her second year at WEF.
"It feels like it's going to be a great season down here. I'm excited," she said.
Liza was also thrilled with Stella’s debut week at the show. “She has a whole new group this year with three really nice horses,” she said of O’Ryan, Invincible and Cellino. Stella is leasing her three new hunters—in addition to her equitation horse, Centerfold K—and Liza expressed her thanks to the owners for allowing their horses to join the Finally Farm team.
Liza also guided O’Ryan to a blue ribbon in the 3’6” Performance Working Hunters and described him as a fun horse to ride with a great jump.
Lily Bennett also made a debut during WEF 1. With her partner, Croft Original, Lily jumped to eighth of 62 in the Low Children’s Jumper Classic.
“Lily had never done the jumpers ever, and she did so well,” said Liza. “It was a great welcome to the jumper ring for her. She has a big future in this ring, and I was really proud of her. This mileage will make her a stronger Junior Hunter rider, and I think she’ll have a lot of fun, too,”
In the Masters jumpers, Justified and Kelly Maloney scored some excellent ribbons, with a highlight fourth in the $10,000 Don Little Masters Jumper Classic. Kelly bred the 9-year-old bay Dutch Warmblood mare, who is out of her Amateur-Owner jumper Kisses and by the top Dutch stallion Indoctro.
“This is a really special horse for Kelly. The mother passed away recently, and for the daughter to step up and do so well is a testament to Kelly’s breeding and training,” said Liza. “I see a great partnership ahead for the two of them.”
Maggie Hill and her two hunters Nevada and Tasty took top ribbons in the Low Children’s Hunters. The Wyoming-based young rider will spend the winter in Wellington, Florida, and Liza looks forward to seeing her progress in her riding.
“This will be the first year she’ll be staying down here for the entire circuit, and it will give her time to focus on some great lessons in addition to showing,” said Liza. “Spending time in the ring is wonderful, but often the behind-the-scenes learning is just as important.”