Finally Farm added a variety of tricolor ribbons to the collection during Week 2 of the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit in Wellington, Florida.
Champions during the show, held January 20-24, included Nevada and Maggie Hill in the Low Children’s Hunters, Quatrain and McKayla Langmeier in the Small Juniors and Aruba Z and Liza Boyd in the Pre-Greens.
Reserve champions included Look Again with Ruby Sloan and Liza, taking reserve honors in the Children’s Hunter, 14 and under section and the WEF 3’ Open Hunters, respectively, and Cellino and Liza in the 3’6” Performance Working Hunters.
Quatrain and McKayla were featured in the Equestrian Sport Productions News on January 24, distributed by Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
McKayla Langmeier and Quatrain Win the Equestrian Sotheby's Small Junior Hunter 15 & Under Division Championship
The Equestrian Sotheby's Small Junior Hunter 15 & Under division wrapped up on Sunday morning in the E.R. Mische Grand Hunter Ring with championship honors awarded to McKayla Langmeier, of East Granby, CT, and Quatrain. The pair earned first, second, and two third placed ribbons over fences on their way to the division championship. Daisy Farish rode Casares, who is owned by James Lala and Virginia Confer, to the reserve champion honors. Farish and Casares were the victors of Sunday's stake class. The pair also placed sixth, third, and fourth over fences.
Quatrain is a Westphalian gelding owned by Laura Critz and trained by Jack Towell. Winning the tricolor honors this week was especially exciting for Langmeier because it was her inaugural show with the 12-year-old gelding. While Langmeier had never shown Quatrain before this weekend, she hopes this win secures her the opportunity to show him again in the future. Langmeier has piloted other horses trained by Towell to success in the past, including championships aboard Khaki Run LLC's horse, Castelli.
"He is really awesome and easy to ride," Langmeier explained about riding Quatrain. "I had a blast riding him."
Langmeier especially enjoyed the courses set in the E.R. Mische Grand Hunter Ring on Sunday. "They were suited to my horse. He has a big, easy stride and that made the lines easy,” she said.
Langmeier hopes to continue showing Quatrain over the next 10 weeks of competition at the Winter Equestrian Festival. She also aims to secure a spot in the $100,000 WCHR/USHJA Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular, which will be held in the International Arena during WEF 6.
Liza and Jack chose McKayla to ride Quatrain this year because owner Laura Critz went off to college in the fall and regretfully is selling him.
“McKayla’s a wonderful, soft rider, and she rode him like she’d been showing him forever,” added Liza “Their performance was also a testament to his adaptability, and they were super together in the handy. I’m really thankful to McKayla and her family for working with us.”
Maggie Hill continued her winning streak, moving up to earn the Low Children’s Hunter tricolor aboard Nevada after excellent ribbons last week. This year, the Wyoming-based rider is staying in Wellington for the circuit, and Liza sees steady improvement from the consistent riding and training she’s receiving.
“It’s wonderful that she’s down here and being exposed to all of the great riders and practicing every day,” said Liza. “We’ve really been working on lessons and training in between the show days.
“Maggie’s challenge is that she has a ‘long eye.’ Meaning, she looks for the longer distances to the fences instead of adding a stride,” explained Liza. “Here, we’ve focused on how important it is for her to ride between the fences. Sometimes Nevada lands low, so she’s learned to give him a half-halt so he rocks back on his hind end while also keeping that medium canter around the turns so she has choices in her distances. She’s really progressed well after just two weeks.”
Look Again rose to the occasion for owner Ruby Sloan and Liza with two reserve tricolors. Look Again had never attended WEF, so last week Ruby competed him in the Low Children’s Hunters at 2’6” before tackling the Children’s Hunter, 14 and under, section at 3 feet.
“I was so proud of them both,” said Liza. “He’s a first year green horse and new to WEF, and there’s so much activity here that he was bug-eyed that first week so we were conservative. This week, I did him in the WEF 3’ hunters and felt he was ready to move up.”
Ruby and Look Again collected a first and two thirds over fences and sixth in the under saddle for the reserve championship out of 41 entries.
“She rode smartly and had to hold his hand in the first class, and he got stronger and more confident in every class after that,” noted Liza. “There’s so much to look at around the ring, but by the second day he took a deep breath. She’d only shown 3’ once before, so she’s green, too. But she stepped up, got better and ended up with some great results.”
Liza and Pony Lane Farm’s stallion Coronado earned excellent ribbons in the First Year Green and Regular Conformation sections.
“He has such a good brain that I thought it would be nice for him to jump the 3’9” in the Regular Conformation,” she said. “He had the top call in the second over fences class on the first day and then moved back. He was also fourth in the model, which was a very nice ribbon in that company.”
Liza was especially pleased that his best performance was over the handy course, since her goal is to point Coronado toward the USHJA International Hunter Derby classes.
“He really showed me that he’s going to excel in the handy classes,” she said. “The handy course was really was hard. I saw experienced horses that were green in that class, and I was thrilled that he got the high score. He also got an 87.5 in the First Years, which ended up third.”
Liza chose not to show Coronado in the Regular Conformation on the second day of competition after he did so well in the First Years.
“I think you have to be more careful with a stallion to keep his mind good,” she said. “From my own limited experience with them, I’ve found they really try for you, and once they do what you want you don’t want to mentally fry them. It would be interesting to ask someone who deals with stallions on a regular basis. I’ve found that sometimes I have to be more assertive with him and sometimes I play with him and give in and do it his way. You can’t be too easy on them, but you also don’t want to break their spirits. It’s a fine line, but I couldn’t be happier with him this week.”
Liza also returned to her roots this week, showing a 3’ Pre-Green Hunter named Aruba Z for trainer Andrew Lustig. Liza purchased her famous junior hunter Monday Morning from Andrew way back in the 1990s, and he sought her out for this particular mount.
“Andrew told me that this one feels like Monday Morning to ride, and he does,” said Liza laughing. “It’s like a blast from the past! He ended up champion and is a lovely horse. Andrew prepares his horses so well, so I literally walked up, hopped on, jumped four fences and went in the ring. It was fun to ride for him.”
Out of 40 entries, the pair earned a first, two seconds and a fourth over fences for the title.
Liza’s young horse string this week also included Sawyer, a 4-year-old Holsteiner owned by long-time client Elizabeth “Liz” Fogleman. The pair earned ribbons in every class of the Pre-Green 3- and 4-year-old Hunters.
Liz traveled to Europe last fall and picked out Sawyer (Casall—Iskia V) from Hans Dings Stables, and Liza has high hopes for the talented young horse.
“She’s been riding with us for six years, and is an amateur, who works so hard,” said Liza. “Liz was so excited. He’ll go on to be a nice 3’6” horse for her. He was quite green when she got him, and he’s come so far with help from Jeanne Smith of Clear View Farm, who we think of as the ‘lead change queen of the south!’ He lives with Liz most of the time, and it’s so nice to see someone like that who does it all herself.”
Hardin Towell also made his 2016 WEF debut with excellent ribbons aboard a variety of mounts. A highlight was his victory with Jennifer Gates’ Cadence in the $8,000 1.45m, sponsored by Douglas Eilman Real Estate.
Kenneth Kraus, of PhelpsSports.com, also featured Hardin in a January 24 profile piece titled “A Conversation With Jack Hardin Towell,” which touched on Hardin’s past, present and future in the show jumping world. A special thanks to Ken for the wonderful article!