The Finally Farm team of Camden, South Carolina, may have had a smaller string of horses showing during Week 7 of the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit than during WCHR Week 6, but their results were just as big.
Maggie Hill made her WEF show ring debut aboard Finally Farm's Shamrock and was rewarded with great performances and ribbons in the Children's Hunter, 14 and under, section, including a second, fourth and fifth over fences out of 26 entries.
Trainers Jack Towell and Liza Boyd shipped Shamrock to Florida at the start of the 12-week circuit in January, but they employed a different plan with the 8-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Comte--Etienne), leased by Maggie.
Although Shamrock is technically a 3'9" Green Hunter, he came from the eventing world last year and has less hunter experience than most of his peers.
"We didn't want to hurry them to the ring, so our plan was for Maggie to take lessons and work with Shamrock until the time was right," said Liza. "We weren't in a hurry. It took us seven weeks down here to focus on getting him where we wanted him. We didn't want the pressure of teaching him at the same time we were showing him."
Instead of competing, Maggie took lessons aboard Shamrock where they concentrated on flatwork and gymnastics, integrating lots of transitions, counter canter and focusing on Shamrock's confidence and Maggie's position.
"Through gymnastics, Maggie learned to control her body and that helped Shamrock learn how to handle the deep distance and the chip," explained Liza. "When I showed Shamrock last year, I held his hand a bit, so it was time for him to take that next step. It was a fun process to watch and for Maggie to experience."
Liza showed Shamrock one day in the 3'3" Performance Working Hunters, placing first and second out of 25 entries, before Maggie took over for the Children's section.
"They got better and better every class," said Liza. "So that was gratifying for her. I think the progress they made meant more to Maggie than winning a class on one of her made horses. She's been a big part of producing that horse, and she feels like he's her baby. It was so cute to see all of that happen and the partnership develop. Shamrock came out of the ring so happy, self assured and proud of himself. It was fun for all of us!"
Elly Ficca continued her momentum from WCHR Week 6 and scored great ribbons aboard Quatrain in the 3'3" Junior Hunters, winning an over fences class and receiving other top ribbons.
Libbie Gordon also showed Elegance to excellent ribbons in the Medium Pony section for Zola Thompson, who was unable to attend Week 7. "I want to give a big thank you to Libbie!" said Liza. "We really appreciated her nice rides."