The Finally Farm contingent has been spread far and wide over the past several weeks, from their home base in Camden, South Carolina, to Wellington, Florida, Bellevue, Washington, Paris, France and Gothenburg, Sweden.
While most of the Finally Farm team traveled home from Florida last week, Maddy Thatcher remained on the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit to spend her spring break from Clemson University at the horse show rather than the beach, where many of her friends were likely hanging out.
Her dedication to the sport paid off greatly, as she earned numerous tricolors and blue ribbons in the hunter and jumper sections with training from the Jayne family of Our Day Farm.
Highlights of Maddy’s week included victory in the $10,000 Low Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic and the section championship aboard Skilliane De Varnel, ribbons in the same section aboard Balvino, Lancelot 266 and Dolce Vita.
In the hunter rings, Maddy guided Summer Place to the reserve championship in the Amateur-Owner, 18-35, section and made a blue-ribbon debut aboard Like I Said in their first outing together in the 3’3” Amateur-Owner Hunter, 18-35, section. She also guided Jewel to impressive ribbons in the same section.
“Maddy was on fire, and we want to thank the Jaynes for helping her,” said trainer Liza Boyd. “I think her biggest accomplishment was winning the classic on the Skilliane De Varnel. The last time or two in the classic, they had the last fence down in the jump-off, which was so heartbreaking. This was such a nice way for her to finish the circuit. Maddy’s been riding great and really consistently. She stayed down in Florida because of spring break, and she had more time in the tack, and it really paid off.”
Liza also sent a special thanks to Randi Button, who remained in Florida with Maddy. “She’s such a hard worker and so dedicated to Pony Lane Farm,” said Liza of Randi. “She’s in charge of Pony Lane and is the barn manager; she’s such a good horsewoman, and her support has been phenomenal.”
In addition to the Finally Farm and Our Day Farm supporters, professional rider Kelley Farmer joined in and guided Like I Said to the First Year Green Hunter championship, to round out the successful teamwork that resulted in so much success during Week 11.
Hardin Towell traveled from Florida to Europe to begin his journey to the Longines FEI World Cup Show Jumping Final this week. His first start was at the Saut Hermes Au Grand Palais, March 18-20 in Paris, France.
Hardin rode JKG LLC’s Lucifer V to 10th place in the featured Prix du Grand Palais, a 5* International Jumping Competition worth 400,000 euros, and he was the highest-placed U.S. rider in a competitive field of some of the best jumper riders in the world.
Hardin also claimed an impressive second in the Prix GL Events, a 1.50m Speed class. He guided New York to a clear round, just behind hometown winner Kevin Staut of France, and collected 12,400 euros for his efforts.
“He did super in Paris, and I think he’s well prepared for the World Cup Finals this week where he’ll jump 1.60m in the small indoor,” said Liza. “Our parents (Jack and Lisa Towell) traveled to Sweden to cheer him on, so we’re wishing him the best of luck as he tackles his second World Cup Finals.”
Hardin’s girlfriend Sayre Happy stayed in Wellington, Florida, where she trained Jennifer Gates aboard her mounts at WEF. Jennifer picked up some impressive ribbons, including 11th in the $35,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Round X on Pumped Up Kicks.
“She had to go first in the class of 57, and all she had was 1 time fault,” said Liza. “It was a huge class, with lots of professionals, so it was a huge placing for her.”
Jennifer also earned ribbons in the High Amateur-Owner Jumpers aboard Cadence and Caddie R and in Medium Amateur-Owners riding Everest De Muze.
Before Jack Towell traveled to Sweden, he ventured out to the West Coast where he taught a clinic at Parkside Stables in Bellevue, Washington.
Down in Camden, Liza taught lessons where she focused on working the riders and horses over gymnastics, including cavaletti and bounces. “After weeks at the horse show, I thought it was important for us to go back to the basics and flatwork, which is something you don’t have time to do when horse showing,” she said. “It was fun, and we worked on strengthening and ground work for horses and riders.”
Liza also had a special afternoon with daughter Elle on Sunday, March 20. The pair walked down the hill to the Camden Hunt Charity Horse Show where Elle took third place in the Walk-Trot class.
“It’s the oldest horse show in South Carolina, and it’s where Hardin and I started showing as children,” she said. “Elle competed in an old grass ring, and it was fun and like stepping back in time. She enjoyed watching the riders on the outside course, and the pony kids jumping in-and-out of the ring and over hay bales and logs. It was great to think about how far we’ve come. Hardin is now at the World Cup Finals, and this is where it all started. It’s full circle.”