Finally Farm had a fantastic start to the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival circuit with top prizes and tricolors in the Hunters, Jumpers and Equitation rings during Week 1, January 9-13.
Bridget Hallman, of Oyster Bay, New York, made her WEF debut with her newest horse Who’s It a winning one—earning championship honors in the Adult Amateur Hunter, 36-49, B section with two firsts and a second. Bridget also captured top ribbons with her Halston in their first time together in the show ring.
“This week was so exciting for Bridget. She rides them both so well, and Bridget and Who’s It are a great match,” said Liza.
Barn manager Katie Wood noticed the 9-year-old Selle Francais (Lamm De Fetan—Kaline De Cantilly), last year in Tryon, North Carolina, during a ticketed warm-up class and suggested Liza check him out. Grand Prix rider Todd Minikus was transitioning the bay from the Jumpers to the Hunters.
“I think I drove Todd crazy chasing him around the show grounds to get it lined up for Bridget to try him,” said Liza, laughing. “Bridget gave him the barn name ‘Woody’ after Katie’s last name. He’s a really game horse with a great personality. He was born to be a hunter and could definitely do the hunter derbies.”
Liza also credited Bridget’s team, including Ivan Rakowsky and Jacob Pope, for helping to prepare Who’s It for WEF. Minikus also gave Bridget a flat lesson on Who’s It in preparation for the show season.
“Ivan and Jacob took care of her in November and December before I got down to Florida,” said Liza. “Jacob did a lot of work with him and ticketed warm ups, and I think that’s why he transitioned so well. I did him in the 3’6” Greens as well, and he was great. We’re all very excited about him.”
Maggie Hill started her show season just where she left off last year—with tricolors. She guided O’Ryan to the Small Junior Hunter, 16-17, championship and Cassanto to the Large Junior Hunter, 16-17, title.
“It’s now a year later, and she knows those horses so well,” said Liza. “It’s so amazing how far they’ve come, and I’m so proud of these horses. They come through for us every year. O’Ryan, at 17, is as fresh and crisp as ever, and he looks fabulous. And Maggie has learned to sit still on him and has mastered the different rides between the two horses. With O’Ryan, you don’t have to use as much leg and keep a connection on him like you do with Cassanto. Her riding has become so sophisticated.”
Like Bridget, Maggie has also been settled in Florida for a while and has been riding a lot and training with Liza’s brother, Hardin Towell.
“Hardin’s been helping her on her jumper, Hope. It’s a nice balance between Jumper lessons from Hardin and Hunter lessons from us. She’s riding really well. Hardin and (business partner) Darragh Kenny of Oakland Stables are within riding distance of us here, so it’s nice to take the Jumpers over there to their big grass field.”
Finally Farm welcomed Annika Singh from Medina, Washington, to the family during WEF 1. Annika is spending three weeks with the Towells from her home base with trainer Morgan Thomas in the Seattle area. Although it was Annika’s first foray to Florida, she wasn’t fazed by the cross-country journey and captured an Equitation, 15-17, championship out of 50 competitors in a California split.
“She focuses on the equitation and brought two lovely horses, Charlie and Hakim Ourai,” said Liza. “It was fun to get to know her and her horses this week. She’s a very talented rider and a pleasure to work with.”
In the Children’s Jumpers, Ruby Sloan and Libertina jumped to fifth place in the Highs, while Gigi Manigault and Cassiana placed 11th in the Low Children’s Jumper Classic.
Gigi also moved up to the 3’6” Large Juniors on Bastille and had solid performances. “We’re very excited that she’ll spend the circuit competing down here with these two wonderful horses,” said Liza.
Liza’s daughter Elle Boyd made her WEF debut with Blue Moon in the Small Pony Hunters with impressive performances, including an eighth-placed ribbon over fences and ninth place in the classic. In addition, Elle is following in her mother’s footsteps and had her first-ever catch ride. She guided Delovely to second, fourth and fifth in the Children’s Pony Hunters.
Finally Farm also congratulated Paige Miller on the purchase of Shamrock and wishes her the best of luck as she shows him next week in the Adult Amateur Hunters.