The Finally Farm team may be most often recognized as a powerhouse in the Hunter ring, but the Camden, South Carolina-based show stable also makes their presence known in the Jumpers. During the Atlanta Fall Classics, November 8-19 in Conyers, Georgia, they dominated the Junior/Amateur-Owner classes, with riders Erin McGuire and Lily Bennett earning the $2,500 Queen Sales 1.30-1.40m Rider Bonus and $1,500 Queen sales 1.20m Rider Bonus, respectively.
“Erin strategically planned that all out and went for it,” said trainer Liza Boyd. “Erin sets a goal for herself and then works to achieve it. She aimed to win that award, so it was so nice that she did it. And, coming off a shoulder injury that sidelined her this year, she’s riding better than ever. Her style and position have improved so much, and she’s worked hard to get herself and her horse fit.”
Erin and Kasarr also earned the Arenus High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper championship during both weeks and won the Classic during Week 2 to finish out a great show.
Lily and Zimba proved consistency pays off during Atlanta. With top-three placings in most every class they contested, the pair earned the Week 2 reserve championship and Lily clinched the Rider Bonus.
“Lily and Zimba recently moved up from Children’s to the Lows, and she’s really impressing us,” said Liza. “She’s just one step away from winning those classes, and we’re looking forward to seeing the progress she’ll make in Florida. They are a great match!”
Liza experienced a comeback of sorts during Atlanta when she returned full steam ahead into the Jumper ring aboard Stella Styslinger’s Cassiana. The pair won a 1.30m open class and then placed sixth in the Horseflight Welcome Classic.
“Stella is in college now, and the mare is for sale,” said Liza. “She did the bigger jumper classes before, so we thought she should step up again. She’s so much fun to ride! In the Welcome, we did all of the inside turns, but the boys beat me. I sent my videos to my brother Hardin, and he said, ‘You chickened out! You should have left a stride out to last line, but I liked your rollback.’”
Liza estimated that it had been about nine years since she'd last contested a class with fences the size of the Welcome, and it was before her daughter Elle was born. Liza had lots of support ringside, especially from long-time employee Alberto Ramirez.
“Alberto told me I was much faster and more competitive than before I had two children,” she said laughing. “I credit the Hunter Derbies for that. I’m a better rider eight years later. I’m quicker and slice across the jumps much better and more fluid than before. Now, I really come out of the turns and go with the first distance I see, like I do in the Hunter Ring. And, I’m just a little faster on the back end, too. It’s gratifying and fun to have a goal and push myself a little bit. I was joking that I was channeling my inner Beezie Madden and Laura Kraut as I was going around!”
Liza was also pleased to welcome Ruby Sloan back to the barn after she took a one-year break from riding. The ninth-grader transitioned from the ponies to compete Libertina in the Low Children’s/Adult Jumpers.
“She hadn’t shown in exactly one year, but she came back strong,” said Liza. “She’s leasing Libertina, and we’re thankful to owner Mia Albelo for sharing this special mare with us. Ruby had never done a Jumper class and walked in that big ring in Conyers and got nice ribbons. We’re very excited about this pairing.”
Elly Ficca has also transitioned to a new mount. After an impressive year aboard Finally Farm’s Quatrain in the 3’3” Juniors Hunters, Elly is now partnered with Cleopatra’s Smile for the 2018 show season.
“She’s won USHJA International Hunter Derby classes with Schuyler Riley. Elly showed her one week in the 3’3” in Atlanta and got nice ribbons. We’re thrilled that this lovely mare will be her Junior Hunter for the year," said Liza, adding that Quatrain is still looking for his next show ring partner.
Liza was also proud of another gray horse in her barn, the 5-year-old Gratis. Owned by Karen Lackinger, Gratis earned the 3’ Zone Green Hunter championship with a clean sweep and took the show reserve championship during Week 2. He also placed 10th in the $30,000 Green Hunter Classic during Week 1.
“He’s come such a long way this year. The second round of the classic was hard, with an end jump and tricky bending lines,” said Liza. “This show was a nice way to finish off the year with him. He didn’t start showing until this past spring when he started in the Baby Greens, and it’s been fun to see him progress to 3’ Greens and go straight and get his lead changes!
“Next year he’ll be ready to step up to the 3’3” Greens and the USHJA National Hunter Derby classes,” she added. “Karen’s hope is for him to be an International Derby horse one day, so I’m looking forward to that. She’s a fun owner because she’s not only a cheerleader for her horse but also for everyone in the barn.”
Sarah Ekola and Zanzibar also finished the show year strongly, taking top ribbons throughout both weeks in the 3’3” Junior Hunters.
While some new partnerships were made in Atlanta, Zola Thompson said goodbye to Elegance, the Medium Pony who carried her to countless ribbons from Florida to Central Park and the fall indoor shows in 2017. The pair concluded their time together with a blue ribbon over fences and other top ribbons.
“We were so happy to see Zola and Elegance finish with great performances,” said Liza. “Hopefully, Zola will find just as much or more success as she steps up to the Children’s Hunters next year.”