Finally Farm’s Shamrock has been knocking at the door this year in the USHJA Derby classes, and during the Aiken Fall Festival I, September 8-11 in Aiken, South Carolina, he stepped through to the blue ribbon in the USHJA National Hunter Derby.
“It was so nice to have a $10,000 National Derby,” said rider Liza Boyd. “Typically these classes don’t have that much prize money, so it was great that show manager J.P. Godard did that. We really appreciated the extra incentive, and I think it brought out more horses and made it a better competition. This class had the same same feel of an International derby; it was tough enough with bending lines and turns in the handy.”
Although Shamrock is a First Year Green horse, he came from an eventing background and has spent the year adjusting to his new role as a hunter. Boyd was pleased that all of the pieces are falling into place, and her training is paying off.
“I did a little 1.10m jumper class the day before the derby as a warm up,” she explained. “I went in there to train on him, and we worked on our lead changes and half halts and sitting trot through the changes. With him, it’s all about the flatwork.”
Liza also credited her sister-in-law Margie for helping her with Shamrock. In addition to assisting Liza with Shamrock’s flatwork, Margie, a dressage rider, has spent time in the saddle with him. “She’s given me some different perspectives, and she’s helped me work on getting him stronger and straighter,” added Liza.
Shamrock and Liza won the first round of the derby and returned last for the Handy Round.
“Taylor Ann Adams and Daniel Geitner went for it in the handy, so I had to do the same thing,” said Liza. She took the two available inside turns and sliced the trot jump, with Shamrock totally in tune to her directions and guidance to clinch the win.
“This was a great experience for him,” she said. “The course had the elements of a derby, such as the hay bales and natural jumps. It was really nice for him not to have to jump so high as in an International Derby to get this experience, and he was able to put everything else together.”
Liz Fogleman’s one-year show anniversary with her horse Sawyer was a special one, as he jumped to the Pre-Green Reserve Championship. Last year at this show he made his debut in the Baby Greens.
“Looking back at photos, it’s so nice to see how he’s developed, especially his topline and neck,” said Liza. “Liz has been working with a dressage trainer where she lives, and you can tell there’s a big difference with his flatwork. We’re now going to less bit when jumping him, and he’s getting stronger.
“Liz has been very patient,” added Liza. “When you buy a 4-year-old, you have to be in for the long haul, and she’s been really working hard with him, and it’s nice to see him coming along so well. It’s been a fun process to follow and start one as a 4-year-old, and next year as a 6-year-old we’ll move him to the 3’3’ and do some National Hunter Derbies. Those classes will help prepare him for the First Years at 7.”
Liza and Liz are also planning to take advantage of the new USHJA Young Hunter sections that will debut for the 2017 show season, where Sawyer can compete against his peers.
“I know that Liz is really excited about having this new opportunity and will also aim for the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship next year,” said Liza. “It’s great to have all of these new programs that the USHJA is offering. Sawyer is the perfect example of one who is going up the pipeline after being imported as a young, green horse, and I’m excited he’ll be my trial through the pipeline.”
Other Finally Farm hunters also excelled at Aiken, with Maddy Thatcher taking excellent ribbons in the Amateur-Owner sections. She placed second, fourth and sixth in the Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic with Summer Place, Jewel and Like I Said, respectively.
Reserve champion tricolors were also earned by Elegance and Zola Thompson in the Small/Medium Pony Hunters and by Elly Ficca and Quatrain in the Children’s Hunters.
“We’re excited for this new partnership between Elly and Quatrain; I think she’s going to lease him for the year,” said Liza. “He’ll stay in the barn, and she’ll move up quickly to the 3’3” Juniors. This was her first time showing Quatrain after coming up through the ponies. She took a short break, and we’re happy to have her back in action again.”
Finally Farm assistant trainer Tamara Berkowitz won a 1.15m jumper class on Justified for owner Kelly Maloney. “I want to congratulate Tamara on her fast ride in the jump-off and how she’s developed such a nice partnership with the mare,” said Liza. “She and Kelly are doing such a good job bringing her along.”
Liza’s daughter Elle also made a splash in the show ring, riding Otis Spunkmeyer for the first time over cross rails in the Opportunity classes. “This week she trotted in and trotted out of the lines, and her goal next week is to trot in and canter out,” said Liza smiling.