Finally Farm collected top ribbons from the Short Stirrup to the USHJA International Hunter Derby to the Grand Prix during the Aiken Spring Classic Masters, April 18-23, in Aiken, South Carolina.
"To say we had a great show is an understatement," said trainer Liza Boyd. "One amazing highlight was when Erin McGuire and Kasarr won their first Grand Prix together. She’s been showing here for years, so it was an incredibly emotional experience for us all. She does a great job with that horse, and her dedication is amazing."
To read more about Erin's win and her journey with Kasarr, please click here.
Another wonderful moment was when Liza led the victory gallop in the $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby with two of her students close behind her.
Liza won the derby aboard Clemens, while junior riders Elly Ficca, aboard Cleopatra's Smile, and Maggie Hill, riding O'Ryan, finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in their International Hunter Derby debuts.
"It was exciting for me to have two kids in the class. I've helped Elly since she was on a Medium Pony, and Maggie came to us doing the Pre-Children’s Hunters, so to see them come a long and be in that class with me was an exciting moment. They've both grown up and matured, and they're coming along so well with their riding," she said.
"This was a good first International Derby for both of them, coming from the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit in Wellington where they showed in the International Ring and Maggie did the WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular at night. They were well prepared," she noted.
Liza was also pleased with Clemens, the Hunter Derby horse owned by Finally Farm and Westerly Farm, who is coming into his own. The pair celebrated their one-year anniversary together with this victory at Aiken.
"He was really good here, and, like the girls, he learned a lot in Florida," she said. "I competed him lightly down there, and I wanted him to return here this spring in a good place physically and mentally, which he has. He really stepped up and showed me some good qualities.
"In the Handy Round, I didn’t have to be too risky since I was winning," she said. "I did strategize and jumped all the high options but one in the Handy. I thought it was a good class for him. There are a lot of nice derbies this spring at Aiken and Tryon, and I'm really pleased he started out the spring on a good note and is ready to move forward."
Finally Farm also welcomed Abbie and Libbie Gordon to the team, as the pair from Statesville, North Carolina, will now be training and showing with Liza and her father, Jack Towell.
The Gordon girls started out strongly at Aiken, with Libbie riding Finally Farm's Shamrock to the 3'3" Junior Hunter reserve championship and the Junior Hunter Classic victory and Small Romance to the Large Pony Hunter championship. Abbie guided Farmore State Of The Art to the Small/Medium Pony Hunter championship and earned top ribbons in the same section with Show Me Love.
Liza credited the girls' mom, Susanne Gordon, and trainer Lynn Caristo Forgione for their excellent preparation and organization. "They get lessons from Lynn at home, and she goes over to their farm during the week and teaches them. She sends them to the horse shows well prepared for us," noted Liza.
Finally Farm also congratulated Maggie Hill on the purchase of her new jumper, Hope. It didn't take long for the pair to win their first blue ribbon and then take victory in the NAL Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic at Aiken.
"I want to thank my brother Hardin for finding Maggie this lovely mare," said Liza. "She has a big record as a Young Rider horse internationally. Hardin called me and told me what a great horse she was, and Maggie tried her. We left Hope down in Florida with Hardin for two weeks after the circuit finished, and Hardin gave Maggie lessons. They showed the week before last in Wellington and got to do a class in the big International Ring, so that was great preparation. They're going to be a great match thanks to Hardin."
New partners Bastille and Gigi Manigault also earned tricolor honors at Aiken, taking the Children's Hunter Championship and winning the NAL/WIHS Children's/Adult Hunter Classic.
"I want to thank Danny Robertshaw and Ron Danta and the Fauntleroys for this lovely horse. Gigi will move up to the 3’3” Juniors at the next show. They're a good combination and so elegant to watch. They seem to be figuring each other quickly, and I'm excited to see their partnership grow."
Karen Lackinger's Gratis continued to collect more accolades, earning the championship in the 3’3” Green Hunters and winning the USHJA Green Hunter Incentive class. "He’s ready to step up and do the USHJA National Hunter derbies to prepare for the USHJA Green Incentive Championship and the Walnut Ring this summer," said Liza of the championship at the Kentucky Horse Park in August. "I'm really happy with the progress he's made. He's such a nice Green Hunter."
Lavasco and Paige Miller moved up to the 3’ Adult Amateur Hunters at Aiken to earn the reserve championship, and Liza credited her dedication for her success.
"I'm so excited for her and her great results," said Liza. "She doesn’t get to ride a lot. She's a mom and works and has several children, so riding and showing takes a big effort. Having children myself, I know what it takes and understand the commitment. I'm so happy she's had this success and is turning into a competitive adult rider."
Paige's friend, Amy Nolan, also earned tricolor honors, taking the reserve championship in the 3’3” Amateur-Owner Hunter section with Curuba. "Amy came down for a month in Florida, but we hadn’t seen her in a while," said Liza. "She came to Camden for lessons the weekend before the show and was right where she left off. They were great."
Finally Farm's next outing is the Aiken Charity Horse Shows in May at Bruce's Field.