Rewards Abound For Finally Farm at Aiken Charity I

 Elle Boyd and Otis Spunkmeyer

Elle Boyd and Otis Spunkmeyer

The Finally Farm team enjoyed success and memorable moments during the Aiken Charity Horse Show I, held May 3-7 on Bruce's Field in Aiken, South Carolina.

"It was a wonderful horse show and so competitive," said trainer Liza Boyd. "It was refreshing to see so many quality hunters, and all of the sections were filled during this World Championship Hunter Rider week. You don't typically see that nowadays, and I know that (the late) Bruce Ducchosois would have loved to see all of this. I think that the support for the show says a lot about the tradition here and how important the hunters were to Bruce and his horse show." 

Liza enjoyed ample success in the open sections, earning the 3'9" Green Hunter Reserve Championship aboard Lindsay Maxwell's Technicolor.

 Liza Boyd and Lindsay Maxwell's Technicolor

Liza Boyd and Lindsay Maxwell's Technicolor

"I was really pleased with how well he went," said Liza of Technicolor. "With Hunt Tosh, Daniel Geitner and Havens Schatt all preparing their horses for Devon, it was a super competitive section."  

Liza also piloted Megan Schall's Frederica to the 3'3" Green Hunter Reserve Championship, for an excellent start to the week. Megan also collected nice ribbons on the mare in the Adult Amateur Hunters later in the week.

The Juniors continued the momentum Liza started, as Stella Styslinger dominated the 3'6" Junior Hunters, taking the Small Junior championship with O'Ryan and the Large Junior championship aboard Cassanto. Stella and Cassanto also won the Junior Hunter Classic, to top of their show with a bang. Maggie Hill also guided Co Co Chanel to the 3'3" Junior Hunter Reserve Championship.   

On the Jumper side, Stella and Lily Bennett were impressive in the Children's Jumpers, winning consistent ribbons, as was Kelly Maloney on Justified in the Adult Amateurs.

"We were really pleased with how all of the jumpers finished up on Sunday," noted Liza. "They all rode super and the horses jumped great, with everyone earning a ribbon in their respective Jumper Classics."

 Sarah Isgett and Fieona

Sarah Isgett and Fieona

Sarah Isgett continued her winning streak aboard Kelly Maloney's Fieona in the Adult Amateur Hunter, 18-35, section. "Sarah and Fieona won both classes the second day, and they were great," said Liza. "I'm so thrilled for Sarah. She rides on her school's intercollegiate team during the school year, and that's helped her so much. We're so appreciative of her spending the summer with us to ride and happy she's so competitive in the Adults." 

Liza was also pleased to see the 13-year-old, Oldenburg mare (Grand Coeur--Hauptstutbuch Festa) return to the show ring this spring after recovering from an injury. "Fieona's coming back strong, and it's so wonderful to see her doing so well so quickly. Kelly bought her as a 5-year-old, and she’s been around a while. She’s had some injuries and lived in Kelly’s backyard while she nursed her back to health.

 Owner Kelly Maloney with Fieona and rider Sarah Isgett

Owner Kelly Maloney with Fieona and rider Sarah Isgett

"Fieona has done a little bit for everybody," Liza added. "I like to say she helped me win the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships one year because I went first on her and then rode Brunello later in the class. My brother Hardin also did her in the grand prix classes in Kentucky (click here for a video) and all over. So, it’s fun to see her now again with Sarah, giving her all again and winning."

Elle Boyd, 7, added another tricolor to her growing collection with the Short Stirrup Reserve Championship aboard Otis Spunkmeyer. 

"She was so proud of herself! The jumps were big. The course designer left the hay bales in there, so it was a solid course. This was also the first time she hasn’t gone off course, which was a huge achievement. Her goal the second day was not to let him trot, and she was really excited that she did that, too. And, I think her grandparents were more excited about the reserve than she was," Liza added with a laugh.

 Elle Boyd and Alberto Ramirez celebrate the tricolor!

Elle Boyd and Alberto Ramirez celebrate the tricolor!

Posted on May 11, 2017 .

New Arrivals at Finally Farm

 Annie Walters and Clemens

Annie Walters and Clemens

Spring often means new arrivals and fresh starts, and that certainly applied to Finally Farm over the past several weeks. 

Finally Farm said good-bye to long-time Assistant Trainer Tamara Berkowitz and welcomed Katie Wood to fill that role at the Camden, South Carolina-based show stable.

"We will greatly miss Tamara, but after almost 3 1/2 years we're happy for her and to see her take this new adventure," said Liza Boyd.  

North Carolina-based Katie Wood was added to the Finally Farm staff as Assistant Trainer and rider following Tamara's departure after the Longines Global Champions Tour event in Miami.

"It's nice to have someone here who has family nearby," said Liza. "Her last job was with Eight Oaks in Middleburg, Virginia, with Kitty and Johnny Barker. She learned so much there, even how to drive a tractor, so Johnny trained her well! Katie will take over the barn managing, do some teaching and riding. She's a good rider, and the horses seem to like her. Her first show was at Aiken (at the end of April), and she prepared the horses beautifully. We're really excited to have her on board."

Finally Farm also welcomed Clemens to the barn at the end of April. The 7-year-old Oldenburg (Clemence--Diana), imported by Annie Walters, was purchased by Finally Farm and Westerly Farm as Liza's next derby superstar.

Annie posted on her Facebook page: "AMW Stables, LLC is thrilled to announce and congratulate Liza Towell, Finally Farm and Westerly Farm on the purchase of our "Clemens". This horse is full of heart and has unlimited talent. With Liza in the irons, this team will be one to beat! I am excited to watch this duo crush the derbies!"

 Annie Walters and Clemens

Annie Walters and Clemens

Annie, a young professional from the Charleston, South Carolina, area, imported Clemens and had been showing him this spring locally. She asked Liza to help her at the Aiken Spring Classic Masters in preparation for their first USHJA International Hunter Derby together.

"Each day he got better and better," said Liza. "So, I said to my dad (Jack Towell), 'I like this horse a lot.' I sat on him Friday, jumped a few fences and loved his balance. For me, he's what you look for in a derby horse. He's scopey, athletic and attractive. I look forward to the future with him."

After Annie and Clemens earned the 3'6" Green Hunter championship and placed ninth overall in the USHJA International Hunter Derby, the deal was made. Clemens then relocated to Camden, where he's co-owned by Finally Farm and Ann Misenheimer's Westerly Farm.  

"He has so much scope that he easily cantered out of the paddock the other day," said Liza laughing. "He jumped this big fence, which is up a hill. It's super tall, and we all watched him canter a little circle and jump over it like it was 3’. Alberto turned to me and said, 'You should do him in the Grand Prix!' All the guys were excited because he jumped it so easily. Usually, when a horse gets loose people are freaked out, but not this time. Everyone was excited! The bugs are already out down here, and I don't think he’s used to them, so he was just putting himself back in his stall!"

Liza is also excited to welcome Ann Misenheimer back to the Finally Farm family. She had previously been in a syndicate that owned the Grand Prix Jumper Kargita that Liza competed in the early 2000s. 

"I'm so happy that Ann is back and she and my mom can hang out together and cheer us on," she said. "To have her back on the team with this horse is really exciting."

 Annie Walters and Clemens

Annie Walters and Clemens

Posted on May 2, 2017 .

Hardin Towell and Darragh Kenny Take Thrilling Win in Shanghai

 Darragh Kenny, left, and Hardin Towell lead the Longines Global Champions Tour victory lap in Shanghai.

Darragh Kenny, left, and Hardin Towell lead the Longines Global Champions Tour victory lap in Shanghai.

Source: LGCT/Stefano Grasso

Paris Panthers turned up the heat in the Longines Global Champions League ranking with a thrilling win in Shanghai with fans on the edge of their seats until the final fence. Darragh Kenny and Jack Hardin Towell sealed victory after a major upset saw leading team St Tropez Pirates tumble from pole position to eighth overall.

Today’s dramatic team competition went down to the wire and ended with the GCL season leaderboard tighter than ever. Valkenswaard United’s heavyweight squad ensured they held on to their lead for the third leg in a row. New recruit Marcus Ehning proved he was a strong signing and went clear in his GCL debut pairing with Alberto Zorzi today for the Final in Shanghai. The team are on 74 points overall and only 6 points ahead of second place London Knights who jumped ahead of St Tropez Pirates, now in third position, in the ranking.

Thousands of fans watched the team competition, sponsored by BMW, play out on the spectacular show ground in Shanghai overlooked by the imposing red China Art Pavilion. BMW China President Michael Liu praised the event and the world class sport. Families enjoyed the stunning shopping village and entertainment as dignitaries from China joined the VIP guests.

 Hardin Towell and Lucifer V

Hardin Towell and Lucifer V

The GCL competition was not short of drama as the heavyweights of show jumping ensured a formidable calibre of competition. St Tropez Pirates looked confident for most of the class after a flawless performance in Round 1 yesterday put them in pole position. Julien Epaillard and Quatrin de la Roque jumped clear following his clear round yesterday on Cristallo. The pressure was on Simon Delestre and chestnut gelding Chesall to hold on to the lead. But the pair picked up an unusual and agonising 12 faults leaving the team plunging down the scoreboard to 8th overall.

Hamburg Diamonds took a strong second, with John Whitaker and Jos Verlooy also jumping clear, just shy of the fastest time in 161.94s. Third went to the London Knights, after Ben Maher and Kent Farrington teamed up once more, with both riders jumping clear but carrying through four faults from the previous round. Fresh from their win in Miami Beach, the pair were the ones to beat with top horses Don Vito and Creedance.

 Darragh Kenny

Darragh Kenny

Uliano Vezzani's course was a tough test for the world’s best, featuring formidable oxers, a distracting water tray and delicate verticals. A challenging dog-leg back to the in-gate caught out a few combinations. Others rolled poles in the Longines combination set against the long side of the arena, where the challenge was the short four strides to a big oxer to finish in a time allowed of 84 seconds. The first of the related distances troubled several competitors with the majority of fences at maximum height, including a 1.60m plank, which was gappy, light and with no ground line.

There were thrills and spills aplenty throughout the class, with 14 riders going clear throughout. Kimberly Prince and RMF Bella Baloubet had a double refusal at the water tray, meaning that Miami Glory were eliminated, with teammate Scott Brash’s score not counting despite his phenomenal clear with Hello Annie. Home team fans were left disappointed as Shanghai Swans’ Daniel Deusser and the large-striding Clintop had the final fence down despite flying round in masterful style. Team mate Roger-Yves Bost rode a flying clear with Pegase du Murier, winning the class individually as the fans waved their burgundy and green Shanghai Swans flags. But it was not enough for the home team who finished in 10th overall.

Nicola Philippaerts, riding the popular H&M Harley v. Bisschop, also collected an unusual number of faults. The stunning dapple grey stopped in the second part of the double after crashing through the water tray. Another refusal from teammate Lauren Hough and Cornet 39 also meant the team collected a total of 40 faults overall, dropping them down the order and out of contention. Laura Kraut looked strong for the Rome Gladiators, however Zeremonie dropped her legs in the final oxer, kicking back to knock the pole and racking up points for the team total.

Marco Kutscher and Clenur kept their 'calm and steady' strategy, with the expressive duo jumping clear for the Cannes Stars. An unlucky time fault contributed to the team score of 9 after new recruit and German legend Ludger Beerbaum and Chiara had a pole down in the second round. Fresh from their win in Miami Beach, Ben Maher put in a sensational round with Don Vito for the London Knights, jumping clear in 76.61s, a full four seconds ahead of the rest of the field. The London Knights were on incredible form, with Kent Farrington also jumping clear for the team to shoot them up to third place and second in the overall rankings.

 Hardin Towell and Lucifer V

Hardin Towell and Lucifer V

But it was the Paris Panthers combination of Jack Hardin Towell and Darragh Kenny who stole the show, taking the win in emphatic style in front of wowed local spectators. Both riders have looked on form throughout the event however proved to be unstoppable in today’s final, with both riders jumping clear and riding fastest with combined total of 155.99s. The League now looks to Europe, and Madrid, where temperatures will continue to rise as the battle for valuable ranking points moves up a gear.

Jan Tops, Co-Founder Global Champions League; "It was really exciting today and the more we run through the year the more exciting it will be. It is now very close (GCL ranking) with London Knights only 6 points behind Valkenswaard United and with St Tropez Pirates and Hamburg Diamonds and now Paris Panthers move up again. We are very fortunate to have a brand like BMW for a long-term contract in Shanghai. It is very good to be associated with and also for BMW it is a perfect fit. It is great to have Shanghai in our circuit."

Darragh Kenny, Paris Panthers (1st place team): "It has been a very successful weekend for me, he (Charly Chaplin) is an incredible horse and it was great for us today to win the team event. We had a strong chance to do well and were very positive about it. Hardin (Towell) had two different horses and it was a really fun competition."

Jack Hardin Towell, Paris Panthers (1st place team): "The weather today was fantastic for show jumping. Sometimes when it is hot it takes a lot out of the horses but it was not too hot here.”

John Whitaker, Hamburg Diamonds (2nd place team): "We had a good day. We perhaps played it a little bit safe but both double clear but not quick enough. Very happy with the horses and the way they jumped."

Jos Verlooy, Hamburg Diamonds (2nd place team): "I am very honoured to be in a team with John Whitaker, a rider I always looked up to and it is great to ride in the same team."

Kent Farrington, London Knights (3rd place team): "Ben and I had two really good horses for the class today, they’re both quick so when it comes down to time that plays to our advantage for the second round.”

 Full house in Shanghai enjoying world-class show jumping.

Full house in Shanghai enjoying world-class show jumping.

GCT Third Stop - Shanghai

With little time for jet-lag and fresh from The Americas, the Tour makes its third stop in the spectacular destination of Shanghai, China from the 28th April - 30th April. Synonymous with glamour and new beginnings, Shanghai is renowned for its record-breaking skyscrapers which have sprung up where just twenty years ago there was only farmland, and the growing number of new show jumping fans in the region is developing just as fast. 

Whether you fancy a night in one of the world’s highest hotels, or a stroll through streamlined art-deco apartment blocks or the home-grown Lòngtáng Laneway housing, Shanghai has something for everyone. Though it’s most alive at the end of the day when the local population pour out of offices, food is the centre of social life and the culinary scene is wide-ranging and engaging. 

Many people visit Shanghai purely for the shopping experience. But if you would rather enjoy the renowned culture, art galleries offer contemporary local art and acrobatic shows are always close at hand. A massage is always popular with visitors if you are looking to relax in-between enjoying the world-class showjumping on offer in the heart of the city. 

Posted on April 29, 2017 .

Cassanto Claims the Derby at Aiken Spring Classic Masters

 Cassanto with Liza Boyd and Stella Styslinger

Cassanto with Liza Boyd and Stella Styslinger

Cassanto and Liza Boyd solidified their partnership at the Aiken Spring Classic Masters, April 19-23, in Aiken, South Carolina, and the results were gratifying. The pair picked up the overall victory in the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby and earned the 3'6" Performance Working Hunter Championship.

Cassanto is a relatively new ride for Boyd, whose student, Stella Styslinger, is leasing him for the year. Boyd and Cassanto contested their first classes together on the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit, and this was their derby debut.

For the USHJA International Hunter Derby at Aiken, Liza's plan wasn't necessarily to win, but instead for them to gain confidence in one another. 

"My plan with him was first and foremost to have a good experience," she said. "I wanted to ease him into another pressure situation (after Florida) and work on our partnership. Because of that goal, I wasn’t jumping all of the high options and was simply hoping for a nice ribbon and good experience."

 Liza Boyd and Cassanto

Liza Boyd and Cassanto

After a solid Classic Round performance, Liza and Cassanto stood in second place going into the Handy Round.

"Havens Schatt was leading and so far ahead that I thought I was riding for second place," said Liza. "Havens had done all of the high options in the first round and handily won it. In the second round, my plan was to be handy but not risk jumping a big oxer and having it down. I stuck to my plan and did it. I was very handy and only jumped one high option vertical, and, as it turned out, that was a wise decision. Daniel Geitner was second to me by 1 point. It's a good thing I did the one high vertical. It's funny how strategy comes into play in these classes.

"It was good for me to do a derby and move forward," added Liza. "It was a competitive class and very exciting for the spectators, I think. For Cassanto, it was a good atmosphere, with lots of spectators and energy. I'm very happy with how it all turned out. We have plenty more classes to build on this spring, with lots of opportunities and stepping stones. I think I have him figured out now."

Liza also finished sixth overall aboard Lindsay Maxwell's Technicolor, a new ride for her.

 Lindsay Maxwell and Technicolor

Lindsay Maxwell and Technicolor

"I was really proud of him. He's only 7 years old, and I don’t know how many derbies he's done, but it can't be too many," she said. "Lindsay was also champion on him in the 3'6" Amateur-Owners. She rode vey well and was first or second in every class. He's such a quality, beautiful horse. I think he really loved this horse show, where there are 20 strides between the fences, and he loved galloping on that field. Lindsay is a good rider and knows her horse well, so it was fun to watch them out there together."

 Erin McGuire and Casallo with their fans.

Erin McGuire and Casallo with their fans.

Casallo and Erin McGuire reunited this spring after the gray warmblood returned from a lease. They placed 11th overall in the USHJA International Hunter Derby, "He's a wonderful horse, and Erin has so much fun with him," said Liza. "He's available for lease again, and I'm sure he won't be in the barn long!"

The Finally Farm team also cleaned up in the 3'3" Junior Hunters, where Maggie Hill and Shamrock topped the Junior Hunter Classic, Quatrain and Elly Ficca earned the section championship and Maggie took the reserve on Co Co Chanel as well as second in the Classic.

"Elly was really good on that big field and understood how to gallop and go forward out there," said Liza. "Quatrain jumped beautifully and had a great time. Maggie was reserve and won the Classic on Shamrock. He loves her, and it's so interesting for me to watch them. He’s really found his calling with her and being a Junior Hunter. I think he'd still be good with me in the derbies, but I can see how happy he is doing this job. He just loves it and is so overqualified. They are a great match."

 Sarah Isgett and Fieona

Sarah Isgett and Fieona

Sarah Isgett returned from the University of South Carolina to resume her summer showing with Finally Farm. She earned the Adult Amateur Hunter, 18-35, championship aboard Finally Farm's Fieona.

"It was their first show back, and they were great. They improved each day," said Liza. "She's such a hard worker and team player. I want to credit USC coaches Boo Major and Hillary Dobbs. They've done a great job, and riding all those different horses has been great for Sarah. She's riding so well."

Liza also enjoyed time in the show ring aboard a fancy new prospect named Gratis. The 5-year-old gray earned the Baby Green Hunter Championship for owner Karen Lackinger.

"She sent him to me just before Aiken and had bought him in an auction in Germany sight unseen," said Liza of the Hanoverian (Gray Top--Akazie). "She studied his pedigree and bought him to be a future derby horse. I'm really excited to have him in the barn, and for him to do so well in his first horse show is thrilling. He has a great brain. I haven’t jumped him very high yet since he's so young, but he feels very scopey and eager. She bought him to bring him up the hunter pipeline, and it will be so much fun to bring him along. He’s a pleasure to work with, cute and willing, and seems to have the right balance and talent to be a derby horse--that natural god-given canter, with a good rhythm. I'm super excited."

 Liza Boyd and Karen Lackinger's Gratis

Liza Boyd and Karen Lackinger's Gratis

Posted on April 24, 2017 .

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

IMG_1149.JPG.jpg

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 .