The Aiken Fall Festival Horse Shows, held at Bruce's Field in Aiken, South Carolina, proved to a show to remember. In addition to garnering many championships and blue ribbons, success also came in new sections and competition.
Junior rider Maggie Hill took on the professionals in the $15,000 William Howard Memorial National Hunter Derby and made her presence known with the second-placed ribbon aboard Charmeur.
Only Hunt Tosh could top Hill's score, and Maggie even topped her own trainer, Liza Boyd, who placed fifth riding Kelly Maloney's Justified.
"This was such a great class," said Liza. "Maggie went in there and rode great. She beat me and Hunt, on his other horse, and professionals Tim Maddrix and Daniel Geitner. It was super fun to watch her and cheer her on."
For Liza, the pink ribbon was especially meaningful because it was Justified's first Hunter Derby after many years spent in the Jumper ring.
"This always happens with Kelly Maloney," said Liza, laughing. "She purchased Fieona as a 5-year-old, who then became our 'family' horse. My brother Hardin and I showed her in the Jumpers and Hunter Derbies, and then she became Kelly's Adult Jumper. Then, she bred and raised Justified, who has been super successful in the Jumpers. Then, at the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show this summer, our friend Alison Thorpe needed a horse to show. So, we braided her and Alison showed her in the Adult Hunters and got some great scores.”
At Aiken, Justified earned top prizes in the Performance Working Hunters before her derby debut.
“I rode her in one of her first horse shows and wondered if she might be a derby horse,” Liza recalled. “But they said she wasn’t sharp enough with her front end. It’s interesting how horses evolve and change over the years, and now she jerks her knees. You never know what you have in your barn until you try!”
Maggie also impressed the judges in the equitation ring, winning the WIHS Overall, Jumper and Hunter Phase, the ASPCA Maclay and the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal classes aboard For Side VDL. She and Cassanto also topped the Junior Hunter Classic.
Elly Ficca and Cleopatra’s Smile won three of the four over fences classes to capture the 3’6” Junior Hunter championship, while Sawyer and Liz Devor captured the Adult Amateur, 18-35, championship.
Erin McGuire and Kasarr continued on collecting impressive accolades this year, winning the $5,000 Aiken Saddlery Welcome Stake.
Reserve championship honors went to Gigi Manigault with Bastille in the 3’3” Juniors, Maggie with Cassanto and Tradition in the 3’6” Junior Hunters and McKenzie Miller with Otis Spunkmeyer in the Opportunity Crossrails.
Hurricane Florence took aim on the Carolinas during Week 2, so the show was canceled. Thankfully, Finally Farm in Camden was spared from the worst of the storm. “We brought the horses home and kept riding,” said Liza. “One day we had high winds, and one day we had rain, so we basically did barn chores. We cleaned out tack trunks and laughed at what we found! ‘Has this expired? Yes, it’s from 2007!’ It was spring cleaning in the fall.”