The Finally Farm team, family and friends enjoyed their annual trek to the Blowing Rock Horse Show in North Carolina in July, where in addition to enjoying this traditional and unique show, they also spent quality time together outside the ring.
“This show is always a highlight of our summer. It’s such a special horse show,” said trainer Liza Boyd. “It’s just two rings, which is nice. I’m not running from ring to ring. Yes, the days are long, but we have time between classes, and it has an old-fashioned feel and it’s a great change of pace.
“There’s something about that mountain air that gives everyone energy,” Liza continued. “And we always have so much fun. We have a ritual on Monday, when we go with the Tosh and Geitner families and go canoeing. Being on the lake and bumping canoes and laughing and fishing is so fun. And we have a big lunch afterwards. It’s always great!”
Liza’s time at Blowing Rock was also rewarding, as she guided Clemens to multiple honors, including victory in the USHJA International Hunter Derby during Week 2, to win the Diane Ward Memorial Trophy, and to championship honors in the 3’9” Green Hunters during Week 1.
“Clemens had two great weeks. The first week he got 88s and above in every class and was second in the Challenge of Champions. Then, we did the High Performance Week 2 to jump a little higher, and he was fantastic,” she said.
In the first round of the International Hunter Derby, Liza said Clemens was a bit playful, putting him third going into the Handy Round. When Liza returned for the second round, she planned to go for the win.
“As it turned out, there were some pretty hard inside turns, and Daniel Geitner, who came back before me, did them all,” said Liza. “So, I was like, ‘OK we’re in third, so I need to take the risk.’ Plus, it was good practice. Not being on top, my plan was to go all the way, or if we made a mistake, either one of us, it would be a good prep for the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships. In the end, we just squeaked out the win.”
Julie Curtin and Cassico also moved up to place second behind Liza and Clemens. “Julie had the same philosophy, and she went for it in the Handy. I went right after her and watched her do the inside turns. I never would have considered doing those hard turns during the course walk, but once Daniel did them and got 10 bonus points we all had to follow. The girl who was leading didn’t do them, so it paid off and moved Julie and I up.”
Liza always uses Blowing Rock’s Derby as a preparation for Kentucky in August since the derby also runs as an evening/night class and has atmosphere. In addition, this year Liza’s husband Blake, her brother Ned and friend Jim Breedlove offered a free fish fry in memory of Pauline Russell.
“When do you ever have a fish fry during a derby?” asked Liza laughing. “It was an energetic crowd for sure, eating fish and drinking beer to honor Pauline. With the cool mountain air and a big party, there was a lot of atmosphere for the horses. It’s a completely different ring from the huge arena in Kentucky but good prep nonetheless.”
Liza was also proud of the Finally Farm juniors who also tackled the International Derby, with Libbie Gordon riding Shamrock to seventh in their first International Derby together, and Maggie Hill and Charmeur placing ninth and Elly Ficca and Cleopatra’s Smile taking 11th.
“The high options were high, and they all made the second round after doing the low options,” she said. “I was so proud of how forward and confident they all rode.”
Maggie and Elly will also compete in the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship in Kentucky after having a wonderful Blowing Rock experience.
Maggie received the Joan Ellis Goodwin Memorial Trophy and the Bill Daily Perpetual Memorial Trophy for Best Child Rider on a Horse during Weeks 1 and 2, while Elly received the Joan Ellis Goodwin Memorial Trophy Best Child Hunter Rider Week 2. Maggie and Cassanto received the Lyrik Trophy for Overall Grand Champion Junior Hunter and the Cassalo Trophy for Grand Champion Large Junior Hunter, while Elly and Cleopatra’s Smile receive the Elizabeth Crockett Luczak Trophy Grand Champion Small Junior Hunter.
Libbie was also reserve champion in the Junior Hunters the first week with Shamrock and third in the Junior Hunter Classic. “They all had a great two weeks of showing with their hunters, and I was thrilled how everyone rode,” said Liza.
Maggie also continued getting to know her jumper Hope in Children’s Jumpers with top placings and earned excellent ribbons in the equitation with For Side VDL, including victory in the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal, the WIHS Overall, Hunter and Jumper phases and the THIS National Children’s Medal.
Libbie was consistent both weeks with Shamrock and also competed in the Low Children’s Jumpers, where she earned great ribbons with Can Do.
“By doing the Hunters, Jumpers and derbies, these girls are getting so much good exposure,” said Liza. “We have a super strong group of junior riders right now, and I’m thrilled with their progress and the hard work they’ve put in.”
Liza was also proud of her 3’3” Junior riders, including Gigi Manigault who earned great ribbons on Bastille as well as Cassiana, the jumper she’s leasing from Stella Styslinger.
In the ponies, Abbie Gordon continued her tricolor run. She was reserve champion on her Medium Show Me Love the first week and then catch rode Robin Greenwood’s Nominee to the Large Pony Hunter championship the second week. “She’d never done the larges, so that was wonderful. She’s come a long way,” said Liza.
Liza was happy for her daughter Elle, who continues to gain mileage in the Small Pony Hunters aboard Hershey’s Kiss. “She got some ribbons, and being third to Maddie Tosh is like winning! Maddie’s a great little rider. Elle was fifth and seventh in the classics, against all the ponies, so that was fun for her.”
Mackenzie Miller leased Elle’s Otis Spunkmeyer and showed in Walk-Trot-Canter, where she earned the reserve championship. Mackenzie’s mother Paige Miller guided Lavasco to ribbons in the Adult Amateurs, so it was a great two weeks for the mother-daughter duo. “I’m proud of Mackenzie and happy that Otis is able to teach another young rider the ropes,” said Liza.
Liza’s husband, Blake, took his trail horse Joe to Blowing Rock so the family could enjoy some fun trail time together. Barn manager Alberto Ramirez also took Joe for a spin. “No one knew he was such a good rider!” said Liza laughing. “Katie Wood said, ‘Oh no! I’m going to lose my job!’”
In the Large Ponies, Clara Saad rode Fox Creek’s Cavalier to excellent ribbons in preparation for the USEF Pony Finals. “We wish her good luck there!” added Liza.
In the Adult Amateur Hunters, Finally Farm collected many ribbons. Alison Thorpe showed Kelly Maloney’s Justified and Liz Fogleman competed her own Sawyer. In addition, Kelly guided Fieona to solid performances and ribbons in the Low Children’s/Adult Jumpers, while Sarah Isgett jumped to double clears in the same section with Killarney.
As usual, Erin McGuire and Kasarr were hard to beat—winning the Open Jumper Welcome Stake during Week 1 and placing a close second in the L.P. Tate Jumper Classic during Week 2. “She always rides great and so efficient and fast in the jump-offs. They have a wonderful partnership together.”
In preparation for the USHJA Championships, Bridget Hallman sent Halston to Blowing Rock to gain more ring time. “In the last class in the 3’3” Greens, we scored an 88 and won, so Halston ended in excellent form,” said Liza. “And she sent him back to Camden for me to ride before going to Kentucky, so we’ll be as prepared as possible.”
After taking a break, Zola Thompson returned to Finally Farm and showed the first week aboard Fonteyn HS in the Low Children’s Hunters, where the picked up some great ribbons. “It was fun to have her back in the barn!” said Liza.