Liza Boyd and Maggie Hill continued their successful Winter Equestrian Festival Hunter performances during Week 4’s featured $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby “Hunt & Go”. Liza guided Maggie’s Tradition to third place overall, and Maggie made her debut in this class format with 11th place in the Classic phase.
“We used this International Hunter Derby to help the horses peak for WCHR Week 6,” said Liza, of the class held on the expansive ring. “The horses will now have a relatively easy WEF 5, and a lot of the them will have the week off. They will be fresh and ready to go for Week 6.”
Liza was proud of Maggie’s skillful ride in the Hunt & Go, in which the first eight fences were jumped in the Classic format, and the remaining six fences were scored as a Handy.
“She did a great job on O’Ryan,” said Liza. “She had high scores in the Classic part, but there was a tricky turn in the Handy, and you had to be cautious to hold the horse’s lead. You had to canter in between hay bales, and because of that (small mistake), she had an error at the next high option.
“But after doing the derby, Maggie came right back and was champion aboard O’Ryan in the Junior Hunters,” continued Liza. “She’s just a lucky kid to have him; O’Ryan is a derby specialist, and he’ll give her great experience. The horses don’t ride the same around a derby course. You have to learn to manage their strides when they’re up and more nervous. It requires a softer but also stronger ride, because the fences are bigger. It’s a lot different than riding around a 3’6” hunter course in the Rost Ring.”
Liza explained that the Hunt & Go format also requires a different strategy than the typical two-round USHJA International Hunter Derbies.
“It took me a while to walk the course, because it’s a little trickier to figure out your plan,” she said. “First, it’s a longer course, and you have to think about everything all at once. It also requires a fitter horse, because they start to get tired, flat and strung out, so you have to manage them. I don’t think the high options weigh quite as much, either, and you also don’t get handy bonus points. You don’t see as many people risking a difficult inside turn like you would in the other format. It’s just a different strategy.”
In addition to earning championship honors with O’Ryan in the Small Juniors, Maggie also guided Cassanto to the reserve championship in the Large Junior, 16-17, section and received excellent ribbons aboard Tradition.
Just after finishing in the Junior Hunters, Maggie ran over to the Medium Junior Jumpers for the $10,000 NAL Classic, where she had just one rail and made the time allowed aboard the mare, Hope. “She just moved up, so I’m really proud of her for that round. It was well done, and she’s fortunate to have Hardin (Liza’s brother) and Darragh Kenny to help her, in addition to Jack,” noted Liza.
Libbie Gordon added to her ribbon collection aboard Tybee this week. The pair won a Large Junior, 15 and under, class and then added a second and three third-placed ribbons. This was their second week showing together. “They’re really cute going around and a great match,” said Liza. “They’ll have Week 5 off and aim for WCHR week.”
Gigi Manigault continued her excellent performances in the Low Children’s Jumpers with Cassiana, and Libbie competed her two mounts, Athletic Lady and Can-Do, in the High Children’s Jumpers.
Liza’s daughter, Elle, had success aboard Blue Moon in the competitive Children’s Small/Medium Pony section. “She was second in the last class with 30 kids and is really working on learning to manage the canter,” said Liza. “In the last line coming home, she’s sometimes too fast. So we’re working on her slowing down before she makes the turn for the next corner. She’s immediately landing and getting the pony back to the rhythm.
“A real light bulb went on this week for her,” added Liza. “At this point, we’re teaching her about track and pace and not as much about finding a distance. If you get the right track and pace, there will be a distance presented to you. Rachel Kennedy also helped me with that, which was really nice.”
The Finally Farm team then wrapped up Week 4 with a barn Super Bowl party. Special thanks to the Hill family for hosting!