Elizabeth Fogleman's Sawyer once again dominated in the Young Hunter section, earning the championship tricolor for the second consecutive week during the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit in Wellington, Florida.
Sawyer won two of the four over fences classes and earned top ribbons in the others during Week 3, held February 25-29 at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
"Sawyer was amazing again, and this week he was even more settled and got better in every class," said rider and trainer Liza Boyd.
She credited the 6-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Casall--Iskia V) for his improvement in sighting in on the second jump out of the lines, which in turn created straighter tracks and improved jumping form.
"He was also a bit less playful on the back side of the fences," she noted. "Last week he could get away with it since it was early in the circuit and many of the young horses were excited. This week he was more relaxed in the ring and mellow, yet he was enthusiastic about his job. It's really rewarding to have the young horses improve so much week to week."
As a reward for his stellar performances, Sawyer will have Week 4 off as Liza believes in keeping the young horses fresh and happy early in their careers. In addition to trail rides and flatwork, he'll have a chiropractic treatment and lots of turn out.
After a week off herself, Stella Styslinger returned to the ring for excellent performances aboard her Junior Hunters Cassanto and O'Ryan. Liza was particularly impressed with Stella's increased consistency with Cassanto, a horse she began leasing and showing at WEF.
"They're really a super match," said Liza. "His balance is great for her, as well as the leg to hand connection. They clicked from the minute she rode him; you could tell. When she tried him, I knew it was a good ride for her, and in watching them together you could tell the horse likes her, too, which is so important when matching rider to horse."
Zola Thompson has continued her ribbon collection in the Medium Pony Hunters aboard Elegance. Now in their second year together, the pair has also forged a strong partnership.
"Zola ended the weekend on good note in the Handy," said Liza. "She's starting to do the inside turns and becoming much more strategic in her riding. She's come a long way from last year, when she was just trying to find the distances. She's now learning to be a bit more handy and her improved abilities are really paying off."
Lily Bennett returned to the Children's Modified Jumper section at 1.15m this week and once again earned excellent ribbons aboard Zimba and Athina 18. She also took time out from her busy riding schedule for a photo shoot with The Book LLC, where her 2017 show season will be forever captured through their stunning portrait sessions.
Masters Jumper rider Kelly Maloney, of Rembert, South Carolina, enjoyed another stellar week aboard her homebred mare Justified, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Indoctro--Jessica).
The pair jumped two clear rounds earlier in the week and then returned to place third in the Classic.
This week the Masters were scheduled to compete at 8 a.m. in the International Ring, which is the venue's featured and most decorated arena.
"Kelly was third or fourth in the order of go, and the first couple of riders didn’t make it around because their horses were so spooky. But I wasn't worried. Kelly was really smart about bringing her mare up through the Young Jumper ranks," said Liza.
After showing Jessica at the High Amateur-Owner Jumper level, Kelly bred her to the famous Dutch jumper stallion Indoctro, resulting in the bay mare Justified.
"She spent the time and the money sending Justified with my brother Hardin to do the Young Jumpers, and it's all paying off now," she added. "There's no venue she hadn’t been in with Hardin, and that's a huge confidence builder. Justified has been in the De Nemethy and International Rings here and the Rolex Stadium in Kentucky. She's been in those big rings thanks to the Young Jumper Program, which emphasizes the proper development of these young horses. It's neat that so many years later she's become a great amateur horse. Justified went in, jumped clean and never batted an eye and was confident and brave."
Maggie Hill and Elly Ficca also moved into a new ring this week, jumping to ribbons in the 3’3” Juniors while riding around the Grand Hunter Ring. "It was a nice experience for them to get in there. Once you get to the 3'6" Juniors, you show in the Grand Hunter Ring every week. It's been a great transition for them to move from the smaller rings to the main hunter ring at WEF, and they were able to get good exposure before the featured WCHR week in a few weeks."
Liza was also proud of Abigail Poss, of Locust Grove, Georgia, for her improvement this week with her young equitation horse Upset De Talma, a 9-year old Belgian Warmblood gelding. In addition to contesting equitation classes, the pair jumped around in the Children's Jumpers, where Liza had Abigail work on riding specific tracks, shaping bending lines to add and leave out strides as well as focusing on her accuracy.
"For instance, in the first round I had her do one line in seven strides and then in the jump-off do the same line in six, which I think was really good training for her and her horse," she said. "That hard work paid off on Sunday in the ASPCA Maclay, where she was sixth in one of the sections. It was a really technical course that asked a lot of questions, and she answered them all very well."