The Finally Farm family traveled up to New York City to participate in the Rolex Central Park Horse Show, held September 21-25 and returned home to Camden, South Carolina with great ribbons and greater memories.
“What a wonderful weekend for everybody!” said trainer Liza Boyd, “To sum it all up, it was about family, friends and these incredible memories everyone will have from the experience, Zola, Stella and myself, especially. It was so fun to be in the city and have our whole families all together. That never happens.”
In addition to Liza and her parents Jack and Lisa Towell, her brother Hardin traveled from the West Coast to show in the grand prix events and brother Ned from South Carolina to spectate and enjoy the camaraderie.
The Towells also enjoyed reuniting with relatives from Brazil who had recently relocated to New York City. And, as a “small world” moment, cousin Camilla Taylor’s choir sang the National Anthem during the opening ceremonies prior the $216,000 Rolex U.S. Open FEI 3* Grand Prix, where Hardin placed sixth aboard Lucifer V.
Zola Thompson’s family had much to cheer about as she guided Elegance to the blue ribbon in the $1,000 Pony Hunter Classic Exhibition, sponsored by the Gochman Family.
“Zola’s winning ride is one she’ll never forget,” said Liza of the 12-year-old. “I was so proud of her and her pony. She was so calm and relaxed, and they got to show to music, which I think made it really relaxing and fun for everyone. She went in and scored an 85, and she was so excited. She didn’t even know she’d win; she was just thrilled with her score. Zola has worked hard this year and really come into her own recently. I also want to thank trainer and owner Robin Greenwood, who has helped us so much.”
Liza described the Central Park show as one that’s unique to the industry and that she enjoys for the sheer joy of riding and showing in the city among the skyscrapers and in the midst of a bustling big city.
“To ride your horse in the schooling area and then walk the five minutes to the show ring, riding through Central Park by yourself, is amazing. It’s so peaceful and like nothing I’ve experienced before,” she described. “It was surreal, fun and not stressful at all. I thought to myself, ‘Let’s enjoy these wonderful animals we have the privilege to ride and show and the ambiance of such a special venue.’ ”
Finally Farm shipped Elegance and O’Ryan to the show from South Carolina, and Liza was especially grateful to Randi Button for her hard work behind the scenes as she was in charge of the challenging logistics of moving and stabling the horses between Gladstone, New Jersey and New York City.
“Randi went above and beyond, waking up at 1 a.m. to prepare the horses to leave at 3 a.m. and then taking them back at 8 p.m. that night,” said Liza. “She was amazing, and I didn’t have to worry at all; I knew the horses were in perfect care with her. She made it easy, and it kind of felt like I was on vacation.”
Stella Styslinger and Liza shared the ride aboard O’Ryan, Stella placing third in the $2,500 Junior/Amateur-Owner Classic Exhibition and Liza taking second in the $50,000 Duchossois Cup Exhibition, both sponsored by the Gochman Family.
“Once again, the Junior hunter O’Ryan had to step up with the professional as well,” quipped Liza, who showed the talented bay to third place in the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship in August. “The courses were beautiful, and the jumps were lovely. I want to thank Becky and David Gochman for sponsoring the class and giving us hunter riders the opportunity to show in the city.”
Stella and Zola spectated at the show last year and made it their goal to compete in 2016, both having spectacular rides in what is typically the skating rink in Central Park.
“I have to admit, they put the pressure on me,” said Liza laughing. “They both showed before me and did so well, and I said, ‘Oh my, I have to keep up with these girls!’ ”
Liza was especially happy to have done so well in the class that paid tribute to the late Bruce Duchossois, a long-time family friend and fellow South Carolina resident. “This was a true Hunter Classic, which you don’t see all that often anymore, and Bruce would have loved it,” she said. “He was a horseman and traditionalist, and he would have enjoyed watching these great hunters show in Central Park. The horses put on fabulous performances, and the decorations and courses were beautiful, with an appreciative audience. It was truly an exciting event.”