Pony Lane Farm’s Like I Said made her preference known for Bruce’s Field in Aiken, South Carolina, when she jumped to top honors in the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby with Liza Boyd aboard. The class was a featured event of week II, held May 11-15.
“She was amazing in the Classic Round, and before the added points from the high options she scored a 94 from one set of judges,” said Liza. “It’s all so easy and fun for her. She goes around the ring in her little rubber bit, galloping and jumping,. She’s so scopey and athletic but also cute, and I think she’s likeable to almost every judge. Some judges have preferences for certain types of horses, but so far she’s appealed to many people.”
Liza described the class as challenging, with a starting field of top professional contenders, including Havens Schatt, Jennifer Alfano, Harold Chopping and Daniel Geitner, to name just a few.
“It wasn’t easy!” said Liza laughing. “There were some strong partnerships, such as Jen with Miss Lucy and Maggie May, Havens on Breeze and Harold on Caramo. The courses didn’t walk hard, but the Handy turned out to be really technical. Even the first line was challenging. People did nine, 10 or 11 strides, so it was a little deceiving.”
In the Handy Round, Liza returned in second place aboard O’Ryan but had a mistake and dropped down to 11th overall. “I tried to turn too tight to an airy log, and I misjudged the track. We ended up jumping the standard part, which was too bad. Otherwise, he was really good,” she noted.
When returning as the leader aboard Like I Said, Liza planned her strategy carefully.
“I rode maybe a little conservatively,” she said. “I didn’t go back in and try for a 90 because I didn’t want to make a mistake. We were ahead, and I wanted to ride smartly. We jumped all of the high options, but there was one inside turn that I didn’t do. Other people had had rails there. We had nice scores and ended up winning.”
In addition to the Derby victory, Finally Farm concluded the two-week Aiken Charity Horse Shows with countless wins and tricolors.
Stella Styslinger guided O’Ryan and Cellino to the Junior Hunter championship and reserve titles, respectively. She also rode Invincible to the blue ribbon in the Junior Hunter Classic. Ne-Yo and Sarah Livingston also claimed the 3’3” Junior Hunter Championship, for a nice Junior sweep.
Look Again and Ruby Sloan dominated the Children’s Hunter, 14 and under section, taking the Grand Children’s Hunter Championship and winning the NAL/WIHS Children’s Hunter Classic.
“ I was so happy for Ruby. She was so consistent the two weeks,” said Liza. “They were both solid and confident. She got him last November, and this is her first year on a horse. Last year she was on Medium ponies, so she’s made a great transition.”
Maggie Hill collected the Children’s Hunter, 14 and under, reserve championship aboard Co Co Chanel and also displayed her added confidence. After showing on the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit for the first time this year, Maggie returned to her home in Wyoming and took a 10-week break from showing. She traveled back to the East Coast for the two weeks in Aiken.
“Maggie rides at home with my sister-in-law and comes back to me very fit, but she doesn’t jump much, so it takes a couple days to get back in the rhythm,” said Liza. “She did a great job in getting back in the groove quickly, finding the right pace andher eye for jumping. She also won the SCHJA Medal on Friday, which was great.”
In the jumper ring, Finally Farm riders also had ample success. Erin McGuire continued her streak of top placings in the grand prix ring, taking a second-placed ribbon in the $25,000 Aiken Charity Grand Prix with Kasarr. The pair posted the fastest four-fault performance in the first round.
The Children’s Jumpers also shone brightly, with Lily Bennett and Croft Original winning the NAL/WIHS Children’s Jumper Classic and Stella taking second aboard Apollo Mission.
“Lily was great!” said Liza. “She has really come a long way. She started in the jumpers in Florida and has really developed a sophisticated style. I’ve enjoyed watching her progress. She’s gone from learning the right numbers and figuring out the time allowed to now taking her riding to the next level. She slices fences and leaves out strides in a safe way. Her riding has gotten so much stronger, and I think she’s found her niche in the jumper ring.”
In the Adult Jumpers, Hiho Houdini and Grace Howard captured the section championship while Kelly Maloney guided Justified to second place in the NAL/WIHS Adult Amateur Jumper Classic.
Maddy Thatcher and Skilliane De Varnel claimed the Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, and Maddy also guided Dolce Vita and Balvino to top ribbons in the section.
Maddy’s ribbon collecting also continued on in the hunters, where she piloted Jewel to the 3’3’ Amateur-Owner Hunter reserve championship and topped the Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic.
“I’ve always liked that mare and followed her career with Haylie Jayne Rolfe,” said Liza. “Haylie did a great job bringing her along from a Pre-Green horse, and I remember watching her in the First Years and thinking what a nice mare she’d developed into. Maddy took over the ride after Florida this year, and they’ve become quite a good match. We are excited to have her in the barn; she’s a really good jumper and a fun horse, and they suit each other so well.”