Finally Farm Makes Memories in Miami

 Stella Styslinger and Cassiana

Stella Styslinger and Cassiana

The Finally Farm training team of Jack Towell and Tamara Berkowitz traveled to the Longines Global Champions Tour in Miami to soak in some sun and secure some ribbons with the backdrop of waves washing ashore.

"Miami was great," said Jack. "It's really an amazing venue. Right outside the arena you see the water, the yachts and all of the people on the beach."

In addition to training Stella Styslinger who competed in the 1.10 and 1.15m classes, Jack cheered on his son, Hardin, who piloted Lucifer V and New York in the 5* events. Miami was the second of the 15-leg Championship Tour, which attracts the best grand prix riders in the world. Hardin is right among them, placing fourth in the Saturday's Table A 1.55/1.60m class.

 Hardin Towell and Lucifer V

Hardin Towell and Lucifer V

"Hardin is in the biggest league now and riding against the best there is in the world," noted Jack. "He was in the top 10 three times and fourth in one class at Miami. He just had some bad luck in the last grand prix, where his horse cut in a little around one corner, shifted and had a jump down. But he was great and was right there."

Hardin is currently ranked ninth in the GCT 2017 world rankings, with earnings of more than $43,000 this seasin so far.

Stella made attending the Longines GCT in Miami one of her primary goals for 2017, and she achieved it with success. Aboard Cassiana, Stella competed in the 1.10m and 1.15m classes, with a highlight being their fifth-placed finish with a double-clear performance. 

 Stella Styslinger and Cassiana

Stella Styslinger and Cassiana

"Stella rode really well. She had one time fault in one class and was fifth and double clear in another. She'd never done anything like this before, so I couldn't have been happier," said Jack. "The courses were really hard and technical, with related distances. She hasn't been doing the jumpers long, and only practiced in Florida, but she was very comfortable doing it. She brought her whole family, too, and I think they really enjoyed the whole experience."

Special thanks to The Book LLC for the fantastic photographs!
 

Posted on April 21, 2017 .

Stars in the Spotlight: Jack Hardin Towell

Special thanks to the Longines Global Champions Tour for featuring Hardin Towell in their "Stars in the Spotlight" article!

Release date: 17/04/2017

Photo: LGCT / Stefano Grasso

Jack Hardin Towell, better known as Hardin to his friends, is one of America's rising show jumping stars. Humble, grounded and infectiously enthusiastic, the 29 year old American has been quietly smashing his goals and rising through the levels to where he is now counted as one of the top show jumpers in the world. Ahead of LGCT and GCL Miami Beach, we caught up with Hardin to talk teams, tactics and taking stock of how far he's come.

Hardin, just give us a little background – your family is one with a history in the sport... That's right, my father is a professional; I grew up riding and my sister is also a professional – she competes in the hunters. I've been riding since I was a kid although I actually didn't like it that much when I was younger, I liked to play baseball and football! But I grew up and I realised that this is what I was going to do for my living – I wasn't going to make any money playing football or baseball so horses it was!

 Was there a moment then where you said, 'ok this is for me, it's time to put the bat down'? I wasn't great when I rode ponies but then I started to improve a little bit. I had a little success when I was around 13 or 14, I started to enjoy it and saw that what I did was pretty cool. That's when I decided that it was what I wanted to do.

We've seen you on the Longines Global Champions Tour these past few seasons, what has been your experience of it and what differentiates it from competing on any other type of circuit? The shows are amazing. The destinations are amazing. I was lucky enough two years ago to win one of the big classes in Miami Beach on the first day. Everywhere you go on the GCT if you win classes or have success it's very highlighted – there's a lot of publicity. They're great shows. I've been lucky to take part these past two years and this will be my third year competing in the GCT and my second in the GCL.

Do you think the event in Miami Beach changed the game a little bit here in the United States? I do. I think there are a lot of Americans who are taking part in the GCL, and I think Miami has helped with that. People got excited last year – it was the first GCL – and I think it has helped a lot.

Last year you travelled to quite a few of the LGCT events – which ones stood out for you and what was your best experience? Well last year I won a big class in Shanghai, so that would be the best one for me! Mexico City was amazing, and Miami was great as always. I did Shanghai which I liked – maybe because I had a good week! And I also did Vienna which was very nice. I was lucky enough to be on a team with Laura Kraut and Emma Heise for the GCL Rome Gladiators; they gave me a nice opportunity and it was a very good experience for me to be able to compete.

Tell us a little about the Rome Gladiators, the team with whom you were competing for the GCL last year. What was your experience of that? I really liked it. The first one I did was Mexico City, and it was tough. It was bigger than I think a lot of people expected and a new format. I didn't have a great result so I wasn't thrilled with how I performed for the team there. In Shanghai my horse jumped well, but I was still a little disappointed in myself so it was nice in Vienna that Laura Renwick and I ended up second and I jumped double clear. I felt good that I could put in a nice effort for the team and I could contribute. I went into Vienna very focused on the team event and I'd brought my horse specifically for the show with that in mind and it worked out.

When you ride second in particular there is a lot of pressure. There's no drop score and you want to do the best you can for the team, so it's fun – I really enjoyed it last year and I'm looking forward to it again this year. Our team [the Paris Panthers] this year will be great. We have Jennifer [Gates] who I can't wait to ride with, Darragh Kenny who is one of my best friends, Lillie Keenan as another U25 American and Nayel Nasser who lives in California. We know each other very well and it's a good group. Two of the riders, Jennifer and Lillie are U25 and then the rest of us are under 30 so it's a cool, young team and I'm looking forward to it.

What do you think the GCL offers to fans of the sport? It can bring a new following to the sport. It's a new concept. Last year was great but it was the first year. This year the format is a little different – and I think the way it is going to work this season will be even better. There is serious money and world ranking points so I think you're going to see people using their best horses and really fighting for it.

Your team sounds strong... Yes, and we're not coming to a competition without trying to win! We all have different horses. Nayel's horse is very careful and I think would be great for Monaco and the smaller rings. So at the moment we're going over the team dynamic, which horses are going to suit which venues and we need to be strategic about it. Hopefully it pays off!

You also train Jennifer, how will it be competing on a team with her? I'm looking forward to it. In the past couple of years it's been quite fun as both Jenn and I have reached the next level. It's actually sometimes more difficult for me when she's showing as I'm so nervous for her! It's nice that we're going to be able to do this together. It does [have a family feel], we're all good friends so it's going to be fun.

What advice would you give to someone looking to compete on your level in the future? It hit me last year actually when I was talking to one of my friends as I was leaving Mexico. I was frustrated with how my results had been, and he said “you know what Hardin, take a deep breath – look, you're showing in Mexico, you're showing at the best events in the world, enjoy it a little bit.”

You put so much pressure on yourself that you don't get to enjoy the ride sometimes, and that's where I've recently tried to take a deep breath and realise if I keep doing what I'm doing with my horses, it's eventually going to happen. You're going to have rough times where you're not going as well but if I look back to five years ago, I never thought I'd be jumping these shows. That version of me would be delighted to be competing at this level. With this sport you just have to keep going and working hard – you'll never know when you'll find a great horse and move up the ranks.

One thing to remember is you need to take time. You won't get from 1400th in the world to the top 30 overnight. You need to have a plan.

Two years ago I said to myself: 'by the end of Spruce Meadows I want to be in the top 100 in the world' and then by the end of that year I wanted to be in the top 50. It's been a few months now and I've stayed in the top 50. You have to pick stepping stones and then look at the final goal.

You're also very knowledgeable about the sport... There are riders like Bertram Allen or Darragh who are amazing, absolutely amazing. They can do anything. Then there are other people who don't have as much talent but have worked hard and are smart – it's like with any sport; smart with how they point themselves. I feel like you need to know, you need to be a fan of the game. I might not have the talent that those guys do, but if I point towards a certain goal when my horses are going right, on any given day I can still beat them. You need to understand the sport and be a fan of the sport, especially as it's evolving – even in my lifetime if you go back and watch videos from the Olympics in 2000, it's crazy to compare it to what it is now. You need to understand the sport to change with the times.

Posted on April 18, 2017 .

Finally Farm Finishes A Great WEF Season

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The Finally Farm team wrapped up the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival circuit just the way it started--with multiple tricolors and blue ribbons. The difference this week, during WEF 12, was the added mileage and experience riders and horses accumulated during their stay over the three-month circuit in Wellington, Florida.

 Stella Styslinger and O'Ryan

Stella Styslinger and O'Ryan

"This year we had a great circuit," said trainer Liza Boyd with a smile. "The horses left really sound and healthy, and I think everybody did a good job with each horse’s schedule. We were able to set a showing schedule that was geared toward the needs of each horse, so they weren't too tired or overused. We chose the weeks to show according to what each horse needed as well as the riders' goals and mapped it out. Our goal was for all of the horses to leave Florida fresh and happy and on a positive note, and I believe we accomplished that goal.

"Our horses and riders are also well prepared for the spring shows and Devon," Liza added. "For those who have Devon on their radar, we kept that as a distinct goal throughout the last month within our lessons and showing schedules. We didn’t cut any corners, and the horses and riders are ready to continue on with their successful show seasons." 

Stella Styslinger was one of those who benefitted from more time in Florida. "Stella came early during Week 12 to practice, and it really paid off," said Liza. "She had one of her best weeks of the entire circuit. Cassanto was reserve champion in the Large Junior, 16-17. and O’Ryan was champion in the Small Junior, 16-17, hunters."

Stella also placed second in the $1,500 Children's Jumper Classic with Cassiana, her newest mount, and is looking forward to competing in the Longines Global Champions Tour in Miami later this month.

 Stella Styslinger and Cassanto

Stella Styslinger and Cassanto

"This is Stella's last junior year, and one of her goals is to ride at Miami," said Liza. "This time last year she said, 'I want to go to Miami.' She's worked very hard to make that happen, and we're looking forward to her having that experience this spring."

Megan Schall finished up the WEF season well with top placings in the Adult Amateur hunters on Fenway and Frederica. "Megan won the very last class on Fenway and the under saddle on Frederica, which was a great way to wrap it all up," said Liza.

Abigail Poss also finished the circuit strongly on Upset De Talma, with second, fourth and eighth-placed ribbons in the 15-17 equitation in a field of 39 riders.

"Abby and her horse improved greatly throughout the circuit--they are so much more polished and confident," said Liza. "This is the horse's first year doing the equitation, and his rideability improved so much. He was a jumper in Europe, and it took some time for him to figure out his new job. I also credit Tamara (Berkowitz, Finally Farm assistant trainer) for her care and training. She regularly did schooling jumper classes on him, which helped tremendously."

Liza's daughter, Elle, concluded the circuit with a strong finish aboard Otis Spunkmeyer. "She was second in a class the last week and has improved so much," said Liza. "She's much better with the basics, not cutting corners and those little things that are important in the show ring. Her position has also improved. She's ready to get home and keep working hard and improving."

 Young Hunter Champion Sawyer

Young Hunter Champion Sawyer

Liz Fogleman's Sawyer ended his WEF stay with yet another Young Hunter championship, winning three out of the five classes.

"It's so nice to see a young horse progress so well," said Liza. "He started out strongly, then went through some learning curves, and then finished on such a high note. It was great that he could stay for the circuit, and I credit Liz for keeping his mind and body so fresh. He had plenty of turnout, walks and trail rides. He made great progress in Florida."

Posted on April 10, 2017 .

Co Co Chanel Designs a Championship During WEF 11

 Maggie Hill and Co Co Chanel with trainer Liza Boyd.

Maggie Hill and Co Co Chanel with trainer Liza Boyd.

After beginning last year’s Winter Equestrian Festival circuit in Wellington, Florida, in the Pre-Children’s section, Maggie Hill has come a long way. She moved into the 3’3” Junior Hunters this season, and her hard work and dedication has paid off. She and Co Co Chanel earned the championship during Week 11, held March 22-26.

“She was awesome, and I’m so excited for Maggie,” said trainer Liza Boyd. “She was first and fifth the first day and won the hack day on the second day. She finished strongly with a second in the first class over fences and ended up champion.

“It was fun to see her do so well,” Boyd added. “On Sunday, she did all three of her horses in 3’3” and got ribbons on all of them, and she scored an 81 and above in all six rounds. Clearly this circuit has been great for her, and she’s dedicated and gets to practice a lot. Last Tuesday she was flatting one without stirrups just on her own.”

Hill, of Jackson, Wyoming, will now travel back to her home state and meet Finally Farm at the Aiken Spring shows later in April.

Boyd had her own blue-ribbon success during Week 11, piloting a new ride, Lindsay Maxwell’s Technicolor to victory in the 3’9” Green Hunter handy class with an 89 and earning other great ribbons, including a score of 88 for a second place over fences.

“He’s such a lovely horse to ride,” said Boyd. “This was the second time I’ve shown him, and I feel I’m getting to know him. I was really excited to do some of the inside turns during the handy, and it felt like we were quite handy together.”

Boyd described Technicolor as a lovely, textbook hunter. “He has a wonderful style and is so good and pretty in between the fences,” she noted. “He’s very scopey, and this height is effortless for him.”

Boyd also scored blue-ribbon results on Megan Schall’s Frederica in the 3’3” Green Hunters, while Megan earned ribbons in the Adult Amateur, 18-35, section on both Frederica and Fenway.

“We moved Frederica up this week from the 3’, and she was reserve champion,” said Liza. “She’s really getting a hang of this hunter life and liking it. We competed in the Grand Hunter Ring, which she’d never done before. She had a few green moments, but it was a great experience.”

Lily Bennett added more ribbons to her collection in the jumpers, taking second in the Modified Adult Amateur speed class on Zimba and then a ribbon in the first class on Athina for a successful weekend.

Posted on March 31, 2017 .

WEF 10 Brings the Luck of the Irish to Finally Farm

 Maggie Hill and Shamrock

Maggie Hill and Shamrock

It was fitting that the week of St. Patrick’s Day, and the 10th week of the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit, March 15-19 in Wellington, Florida, would see good fortune come shining down on Shamrock.

Maggie Hill and Shamrock earned their first blue ribbon on the WEF circuit, taking an over fences victory in the 3’3” Junior Hunter section as well as other nice ribbons. Shamrock also scored an 89 for the top call in a 3’3” Performance Working Hunter class with trainer Liza Boyd earlier in the week.

“Maggie was great. Her other horses had the week off, so she focused on Shamrock and got better and better each day,” said Liza. “The 3’3” is challenging down here when the division isn’t split, so that was a great win for them.”

Liza described Maggie’s rides as increasingly smooth and seamless. “The difference between Day 1 and 2 was her riding in between the fences. In that division, with that many great horses and riders, it’s not just being accurate to the jumps. You have to have those invisible aids. She also let him poke his nose out, and it was a beautiful hunter picture,” she noted.

Elly Ficca also brought nice ribbons back to the barn from the 3’3” Junior Hunters aboard Quatrain. They earned a second, fourth and fifth with consistent performances.

Cassanto once again starred in the Large Junior, 16-17, section, earning the championship with the team effort of riders Stella Styslinger and McKayla Langmeier.

“Stella couldn’t get to the show the first day due to school commitments, so we want to thank McKayla for showing him the first day,” said Liza.  

Stella also continued her blue-ribbon streak aboard O’Ryan, once again winning the Small Junior, 16-17, stake class. “So that was a good way to finish the week, with an 87 score,” said Liza. “They were fantastic.”

With the circuit winding down, two Finally Farm horses finished their time at WEF with accolades.

Kelly Maloney and Justified placed fourth in the $10,000 Masters Jumper Classic and earned a blue-ribbon clear for a great finale. In addition to taking home lots of ribbons, Kelly also made great inroads in her riding and partnership with her homebred mare.

“They were really consistent, and it was wonderful that the riders in that division get to compete in so many different rings down here,” said Liza. “Kelly rode a lot of different types of courses in many rings with a variety of course designers. That’s great mileage.

“We also ended up discovering that Justified likes to go in a hackamore,” added Liza. “She would tend to toss her head at times, so we used some different bits during the circuit. Kelly suggested a hackamore, and it worked really well for the last three weeks.”

 Mary Carton Mitchener with trainer Jack Towell and Trinity

Mary Carton Mitchener with trainer Jack Towell and Trinity

Mary Carton Mitchener’s Trinity also returned home to Camden, South Carolina, after capturing top ribbons in the 3’3’ Amateur-Owner Hunters, including third in the stake class during Week 10.

“Especially this past week, the courses in the hunter ring have been challenging, with lots of bending lines and different types of courses,” said Liza. “This week the division classes included some derby-style questions. Even for the pros, we had an oxer-to-oxer bending line to start with, which was fun. Mary Carton will go home with great exposure and is set up to shine for the Aiken Spring Shows at home.”

 Jack Towell and granddaughter Adeline

Jack Towell and granddaughter Adeline

This year, in particular, Liza has been pleased with the consistency and mileage the Finally Farm team garnered as many riders and horses were able to spend additional time in Florida. Having access to a practice ring also allowed for more lessons and training outside the show ring.

“During a year like this, we get to learn a lot about the horses,” she said. “Yes, we’re able to practice at home, but I think it’s different getting experience in the show ring and having the opportunity to do your homework in between the shows. You and your horse learn and incorporate the pressure of competing, so it’s a win-win for everyone.”

Posted on March 20, 2017 .

Callahan Continues His Ribbon Collection During WEF 9

 Liza Boyd and Joann Loheac's Callahan

Liza Boyd and Joann Loheac's Callahan

Callahan continued his collection of tricolor ribbons during Week 9 of the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit, March 8-12 in Wellington, Florida.

Joann Loheac's 7-year-old Oldenburg earned the reserve championship in the 3' Green Hunters for the second consecutive week, taking a win over fences and other top ribbons in a field of 28 with Liza Boyd in the irons. The pair also placed third in the USHJA Green Incentive.

"Callahan is a wonderful young horse, with so much talent," said Boyd. "He's so solid now at 3' that he'll move up to the 3'3" height next week. I'm thrilled with him."

 Liza Boyd and Callahan

Liza Boyd and Callahan

Boyd was also thrilled to watch as Maraschino and Stella Propp forged a new partnership. Stella just purchased Maraschino, and they made their debut a winning one in the 3'3" Junior Hunters. After blue ribbons over fences and in the under saddle—along with other impressive placings, the pair concluded their first show together with a section championship. 

"I want to congratulate Stella and trainer Joey Currais on the purchase of 'Cherry' and also for such a wonderful start," said Liza. "Stella trains with Joey but will keep Cherry with us at Finally Farm for the rest of the WEF circuit as she gets to know her and before they return home to New Jersey. It will be a join effort and a lot of fun to watch them get to know each other."

Another new face joined the Finally Farm team this week with Megan Schall's purchase of Frederica, a 7-year-old Westphalian mare (Cristallo I--Penny Lane). 

Megan, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, will show Frederica in the Adult Amateur Hunter section while Liza campaigns her in the Green Hunters. During WEF 9, Frederica and Liza scored an 88 in the Rost Arena, an impressive start to their career together.

"She's super brave, and I think she’ll go on to do the derbies and be a great Amateur-Owner horse," said Liza of the flashy bay mare. "She's a good mover, and her brain is exceptional. She takes very little preparation, loves her job and is a lovely mare to have in the barn. I look forward to seeing how far she goes in the sport."

Megan and Frederica also made their debut, with ribbons in the Adult Amateurs. In addition, Megan competed Fenway to top placings, with a second and third over fences in the competitive Adult Amateur, 18-35, section B.

Top scores also abounded for riders Maggie Hill and Stella Styslinger. 

 Elle Boyd and Otis Spunkmeyer

Elle Boyd and Otis Spunkmeyer

"Maggie was super consistent through the week, with solid 80s and nice ribbons in every class," said Liza. "I was really proud of her, especially for her consistent riding through the more technical courses, handy classes and bending lines."

Stella Styslinger's highlight was a score of 89 on O’Ryan to win the Small Junior Hunter, 16-17, Stake class.

Elle Boyd and Otis Spunkmeyer kept their momentum going in the Short Stirrup section.

"Elle was so good this week," said Liza. "She was second, third and fourth in her three classes. What I loved most, though, was what she said afterward. Now that she's remembering her courses, she said it's so much fun. And I said to her, 'I'm so glad you're having fun.' And she replied, 'Why would we do this if we didn't have fun?'"

Posted on March 16, 2017 .

WEF 8 is Rewarding For Finally Farm

Callahan made his presence known in the 3' Green Hunter section, taking reserve championship honors and second place in the USHJA Green Hunter Incentive class in just his second outing on the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit in Wellington, Florida, on March 1-5.

 Callahan and Liza Boyd

Callahan and Liza Boyd

 

Owned by Rolling Hills Show Stables, Callahan is a bay 7-year-old Oldenburg gelding. 

"He was great this week and so brave," said rider Liza Boyd. "He went in the Rost Arena and just marched around. He scored in the mid- to high-80s in each round, which was wonderful."

Liza credited owner Joann Loheac of Rolling Hills Show Stables for preparing him so well.

"Joann picked him out and has brought him along since he was a young horse with lots of flatwork," noted Liza. "He’s a striking horse, quite pretty with lots of show ring presence, which I love about him. He's quite a good jumper and is for sale, so someone will have a super nice show hunter."

Sarah Ekola and Zanzibar picked up their second reserve championship in the Children's Hunter, 15-17, section.

"Sarah and Zanzibar are really clicking, and they'll shortly move up to the 3'3" Junior Hunters," said Liza. "She's leasing Zanzibar from trainer Jim Hagman, and I want to thank them for such a wonderful horse. Sarah will have lots of fun this year with him."

Stella Styslinger added a new mount to her string with the purchase of Cassiana. Not to be confused with her top Junior Hunter Cassanto, her new horse will take a starring role in the jumper ring.

"They started out with nice ribbons in the 1.10m Children's Jumpers, and I couldn't be happier," said Liza. "I want to thank Brady Mitchell for helping to pair them up. She's a nice mare, and I think Stella will have a lot of fun learning the ropes in the jumper ring. The mare had good experience in Europe, so she came here ready to go. It will be exciting to have Stella in the jumper ring, too."

After last week's success in the Children's Hunters, Maggie Hill and Shamrock moved up to the 3’3” Junior Hunters and collected ribbons in two classes.

"I was especially thrilled with their sixth place in the Handy round," said Liza. "It was their first Handy together, and they were quite competitive in the field of 31 horses. Maggie also scored an 87 on CoCo Chanel and was third in the Stake class. Just to be up there and getting scores like that is quite an accomplishment."

 

 

Posted on March 8, 2017 .

Perseverance Pays Dividends For Finally Farm During WEF 7

 Trainer Liza Boyd instructs Maggie Hill with Shamrock.

Trainer Liza Boyd instructs Maggie Hill with Shamrock.

The Finally Farm team of Camden, South Carolina, may have had a smaller string of horses showing during Week 7 of the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit than during WCHR Week 6, but their results were just as big.

Maggie Hill made her WEF show ring debut aboard Finally Farm's Shamrock and was rewarded with great performances and ribbons in the Children's Hunter, 14 and under, section, including a second, fourth and fifth over fences out of 26 entries.

Trainers Jack Towell and Liza Boyd shipped Shamrock to Florida at the start of the 12-week circuit in January, but they employed a different plan with the 8-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Comte--Etienne), leased by Maggie. 

Although Shamrock is technically a 3'9" Green Hunter, he came from the eventing world last year and has less hunter experience than most of his peers.

"We didn't want to hurry them to the ring, so our plan was for Maggie to take lessons and work with Shamrock until the time was right," said Liza. "We weren't in a hurry. It took us seven weeks down here to focus on getting him where we wanted him. We didn't want the pressure of teaching him at the same time we were showing him."

Instead of competing, Maggie took lessons aboard Shamrock where they concentrated on flatwork and gymnastics, integrating lots of transitions, counter canter and focusing on Shamrock's confidence and Maggie's position.  

"Through gymnastics, Maggie learned to control her body and that helped Shamrock learn how to handle the deep distance and the chip," explained Liza. "When I showed Shamrock last year, I held his hand a bit, so it was time for him to take that next step. It was a fun process to watch and for Maggie to experience." 

Liza showed Shamrock one day in the 3'3" Performance Working Hunters, placing first and second out of 25 entries, before Maggie took over for the Children's section.

"They got better and better every class," said Liza. "So that was gratifying for her. I think the progress they made meant more to Maggie than winning a class on one of her made horses. She's been a big part of producing that horse, and she feels like he's her baby. It was so cute to see all of that happen and the partnership develop. Shamrock came out of the ring so happy, self assured and proud of himself. It was fun for all of us!"

Elly Ficca continued her momentum from WCHR Week 6 and scored great ribbons aboard Quatrain in the 3'3" Junior Hunters, winning an over fences class and receiving other top ribbons.

Libbie Gordon also showed Elegance to excellent ribbons in the Medium Pony section for Zola Thompson, who was unable to attend Week 7. "I want to give a big thank you to Libbie!" said Liza. "We really appreciated her nice rides." 

 Trainer Liza Boyd and daughter Elle at work.

Trainer Liza Boyd and daughter Elle at work.

 

Posted on February 28, 2017 .

Finally Farm Enjoys Sweet Success during WCHR Week at WEF 6

 Maraschino and Liza Boyd

Maraschino and Liza Boyd

Highlights abounded for Finally Farm horses and riders during the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit Week 6, the WCHR CSI 3*, held February 15-19 in Wellington, Florida.

The $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular was a featured event, and once again Liza Boyd didn't disappoint. The three-time winner of the class, now in its 21st year, placed third aboard Lily Bennett's Maraschino with two brilliant performances under the lights of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center's International Ring.

"She really stepped up, and I was so proud of her," said Liza of the 10-year-old chestnut warmblood. "McKayla Langmeier showed her during the week in the Junior Hunters, and I had a good feeling about her going in there. She's 10 now, old enough and experienced, so I could ride her boldly."

 Maraschino and Liza Boyd

Maraschino and Liza Boyd

That decision proved to be a great one, as Maraschino rose to the occasion, even making up for Liza's fall from Cassanto earlier in the first round when he bucked and played after a particularly brilliant jumping effort.

"Thankfully, I had Maraschino to redeem myself! After I fell off Cassanto, I got mad but in a good way. I said, ‘Come on mare—you can do this!’ Our philosophy is that third place in that class was like a victory," Liza said. "Catch Me, the horse that won with Scott Stewart, is in a league of his own, Scott's an amazing rider, and Private Life was great, too. Being on a veteran Junior Hunter, I chose to make it a bit more exciting and really go out there and be bold.”

 Jack Towell and Liz Fogleman cheer on Liza and Maraschino during the WCHR Spectacular.

Jack Towell and Liz Fogleman cheer on Liza and Maraschino during the WCHR Spectacular.

Liza added: "Now that Lily is doing the jumpers, Maraschino is for sale, and I know she'll make someone an amazing Junior or Amateur horse. She's also more than capable of doing these big classes under the lights, which is great. She's really an amazing horse."

Unlike a USHJA International Hunter Derby, the WCHR Hunter Spectacular is a Hunter Classic, therefore it doesn't include a Handy Round. Nevertheless, Liza chose to take some tighter turns and show off Maraschino's bravery in Round 2, which certainly impressed the spectators and judges. Strategizing in Hunter classes is a skill that Liza and her father Jack Towell take seriously.

"We knew that if Catch Me went well we weren't going to catch him, since he was so far ahead after the first round," said Liza. "So, we decided to do something a little different. Jack said, 'Why don't you pick up the pace and make it more exciting? Ride the course with more of a gallop, and I think that will encourage her to jump higher and make it more exciting.' So, that's what I did. Some people had to hold their horse's hands out there in that big ring under the lights, but I had the luxury of being on a made Junior Hunter and could really go for it, and it worked out." 

Despite Liza's unexpected dismount from Cassanto in the WCHR Spectacular, she was proud of the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding for his consistency throughout the week. In addition to earning a 3'6" Performance Working Hunter section championship with Liza in the irons (including winning a class with 106 entries!), Cassanto also carried Stella Styslinger to excellent performances in the Large Junior, 16-17, section.

 Liza Boyd and Cassanto

Liza Boyd and Cassanto

"He's really a phenomenal horse," said Liza, who estimated she'd shown him in just five classes prior to the WCHR Spectacular. "Now that I know him a little better after this week, I'll be better prepared in the future. We plan to do some derbies this year, and I really look forward to forging a partnership with him. He's very special."

Stella also earned her own accolades over the weekend, taking top ribbons aboard O'Ryan, including a score of 87 in the Small Junior, 16-17, section.

In addition to watching Maraschino star on Saturday night, Lily Bennett welcomed a new jumper to her string, Westpoint Baros. They started out strongly with ribbons in the Children's Jumper, 15-17, section.

"I want to thank Darragh Kenny for the new horse," said Liza, of the recently imported 11-year-old wamblood by Balou Du Rouet. "They are already a great match together."

Lily also earned top ribbons aboard Zimba in the Children's Modified Jumpers, including a second and third out of 25 entries. 

 Elly Ficca, second from right, tied for the 3'3" Junior Hunter High-Score Award with Isha Swani and received her award from the USHJA's Marla Holt and ringmaster Steve Rector.

Elly Ficca, second from right, tied for the 3'3" Junior Hunter High-Score Award with Isha Swani and received her award from the USHJA's Marla Holt and ringmaster Steve Rector.

Elly Ficca was thrilled to stand center ring on Saturday night to receive one of the coveted WCHR High-Score Awards. Elly and Quatrain earned a score of 88 in the 3'3" Junior Hunters, winning two over fences classes, on their way to a tie for the High-Score Award. They also placed eighth in the 3'3" Junior Hunter Classic.  

"They were great!" said Liza smiling. "She was really clicking with him, and it was the perfect weekend for them to do so well together. I rode Quatrain earlier in the week, and I think watching me helped her out. She and Maggie Hill also watched me in the WCHR Spectacular on Saturday night, and the course for the Junior Hunter Classic the next day was almost identical. It was great for them to watch and then go out the next day and ride the course. Maggie was fifth and seventh, which was great for her, too. I was really proud of Maggie to step up and go in the big ring for the first time."

During Saturday night's press conference after the WCHR Hunter Spectacular, Liza took a moment to formally acknowledge assistant trainer Tamara Berkowitz for her hard work and dedication to the Finally Farm team. She also credited the entire team for helping to prepare the horses and stepping in to assist the clients during the busiest week of the WEF circuit.

"I don't think people really know how important our assistant trainers are to our programs, and I want to thank Tamara, who was up in the dark with Maraschino, teaching lessons and giving us pros the time to focus and keeping the show running," she said. "Without our team we wouldn't be sitting up here."

 Finally Farm Assistant Trainer Tamara Berkowitz helps school Quatrain with rider Liza Boyd.

Finally Farm Assistant Trainer Tamara Berkowitz helps school Quatrain with rider Liza Boyd.

Posted on February 23, 2017 .

Handy Blues Highlight Finally Farm’s WEF 5

 Mary Carton Mitchener, Liza Boyd and Trinity

Mary Carton Mitchener, Liza Boyd and Trinity

Mary Carton Mitchener and Maggie Hill made great strides in their respective sections during Week 5 of the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit, February 8-12 in Wellington, Florida.

Mary Carton, 18, a senior in high school, graduated to the Amateurs this show season and has made a smooth transition. During WEF 5, she guided Trinity to the blue ribbon in the 3’3” Amateur-Owner, 18-35, Handy class.

“She watched the videos of me showing him earlier in the week, and I think they really helped her fine-tune her own riding,” said trainer Liza Boyd. “She saw what a strong and confident ride I gave him. She rode him a little bit stronger, with more pace, energy and took more of a feel of his mouth, and that made a big difference.”  

Mary Carton, of Charlotte, North Carolina, has ridden with Finally Farm since she was on a Children’s Pony Hunter, so making the transition to the Amateurs is a major milestone and testament to her commitment to the sport.

Liza was especially impressed with Mary Carton’s inside turns, where she maintained balance and impulsion. “She was super handy and impressive,” said Liza smiling. “Even her mom said she had to close her eyes when Mary Carton took the inside turns! I was proud of her confidence and how strong she rode him. She really earned that blue ribbon, and winning a class in the Grand Hunter Ring was great for her.”

 Maggie Hill and Co Co Chanel

Maggie Hill and Co Co Chanel

Wyoming-based Junior Maggie Hill also scored a blue ribbon in her Handy class, winning the 3’3” Junior Hunter class aboard Co Co Chanel.

“I was incredibly impressed with Maggie’s ride in the Handy, and I feel like her performance resulted from how well she’s practiced and prepared for the Handy tests during our lessons. In each lesson, we’ve been emphasizing something that would be asked on Handy course, and we even work on these questions in our flatwork. Maybe we practice a tight turn around a jump or trot a small jump or focus on a bending line. I feel like this homework has prepared all of our riders well for the courses they’ll see here in the show ring.”

Liza described this week’s Handy courses as challenging, from a trot jump, to tight rollbacks, inside turn options to bending lines. She also credited Maggie’s extra practice rides aboard Shamrock for helping her gain confidence during her recent move up from Children’s to Junior Hunters.

“The past two weeks we worked on gymnastics at home with Shamrock, and we set a tight one-stride combination to a five- or six-stride line to a normal one-stride. Having her do that exercise back and forth helped Maggie figure out how to use her body position to help Shamrock get his best jump. Then, in the show ring, we could see how her improved position in the air allowed everything to flow more smoothly. That practice really carried over, and she was able to make the tight inside turns with organization and balance.”

 Sarah Ekola

Sarah Ekola

During Week 5, Finally Farm welcomed new client Sarah Ekola, of Blythewood, South Carolina, to the barn. She rode Zanzibar to excellent ribbons and the reserve championship, out of 36 entries, in the Children’s, 15-17, section during her first visit to the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit.

“We are so happy to have Sarah in the barn. She came down to try horses and leased Zanzibar for the week,” said Liza. “Her mom said Sarah was thrilled, and the experience even exceeded her own expectations, which her mom said rarely happens. Being down here for the first time can be overwhelming, but Sarah was great and took it all in stride. She was also second in the THIS Children’s Medal, with a wonderful ride.”

Liza enjoyed her own blue ribbons during Week 5, including one with Finally Farm’s Ballerino. “We bought him as a stallion, gelded him and then turned him out for a year to let him mature,” said Liza. “He hadn’t shown since August of 2015 and went straight into the 3’6” Green Hunters in the Grand Hunter Ring and won the first class with an 88. We’ll continue to work on his rideability here in Florida. He’s a lovely jumper and fun horse, and I’m thrilled to have him back.”

 Elle Boyd

Elle Boyd

Liza also enjoyed the ride aboard Rolling Hills Show Stable’s sale horse Callahan. “He a young hunter that just showed one day in the 3’ Green Hunters, but he was impressive and was second out of 28 over fences,” said Liza. “He has a bright future ahead of him.”

Elle Boyd continued her blue-ribbon streak in the Short Stirrup section, winning a class aboard Otis Spunkmeyer. Perhaps Elle’s highlight of the week, though, was attending the Cavalia show during the Equestrian Aid Benefit on Sunday night.

“We went with Louise Serio and her granddaughter Mary Jo, Elle’s friend, and it was so much fun,” said Liza. “The kids were amazed with the horses and how they performed without tack, the bowing and the rearing. It was a fun way to end a great week.”

Posted on February 15, 2017 .