The history and prestige are palpable at the United States Equestrian Team Foundation headquarters in Gladstone, N.J., making it an excellent venue for aspiring young jumping athletes hoping to make it to the top of the sport. An impressive field competed in the four phases of the 2018 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals-East, but it was Daisy Farish who claimed the champion title after delivering superb performances. Farish aims to one day represent the U.S. at the senior level on the international stage, and she felt the Finals were an important stepping stone to the future.
The 2018 edition of the Finals-East marked Farish’s fifth consecutive appearance. She never finished lower than 11th place, but gaining knowledge over the years gave her the extra edge to win in 2018. “I think with it being my last year and having competed at it so many times before, I was just much more experienced that year,” she explained. “I had been in the ride-off one time [in 2016], so having that experience of actually being in that final situation, which is the hardest part of the Finals, and so much experience over the years of riding different horses and being prepared for that situation is what made the difference.”
Farish was quick to praise Arsouille des Etangs, her mount for the 2018 Finals. The Selle Français gelding owned by JMTT Girard LLC came from the jumper ring and had only started competing in equitation classes in the summer of 2018. Farish teamed up with Arsouille des Etangs in August, competing in three shows prior to the Finals. “He had been doing jumpers, and that speaks to his character,” she said. “He is a pleaser and a very smart, easy-going horse for him to step in there and do as well as he did.”
Working with Andre Dignelli and the Heritage Farm team was another important aspect to Farish’s success. She and her fellow students practiced going through the phases in the weeks before the Finals to prepare for the challenges ahead. “We set all the gymnastics that we could possibly be jumping that they had in the former format, where they had the option that the judges could pick,” Farish explained. “We practiced walking them all, so we knew what we were walking once we were there. We set a mimic course and practiced our flat, just really trying to nail down all the phases.”
Farish’s experience and preparations paid off at the Finals. She was in the top three after the first three phases, never scoring lower than 89. Farish delivered four solid rides in the challenging ride-off phase to clinch top honors.
For future competitors in the Finals, Farish suggests, “just to take it phase by phase and really focus your efforts on each one. Don’t get too caught up in your scores in each phase, because it is easy to get down on an early poor score or something you didn’t want to happen, but it changes so much throughout the days.”
The Finals-East was Farish’s favorite final, because it had the strongest jumping influence of the equitation finals, and that played well into her own goals. In addition, she saw the significance the Finals played in her future equestrian endeavors. “I would really like to be a strong jumper rider, and my dream would be to one day represent the U.S. on a Nations Cup senior team,” Farish said. “Knowing that [U.S. Youth Chef d’Equipe] DiAnn Langer and all of those top people from the USEF take interest in the Finals and watch it and the way they use the Finals as a pipeline for those teams made it very important for me to try to succeed there and look good for them.”
Farish finished out her final junior year in 2018, which included a young rider individual gold medal at the Adequan®/FEI North American Youth Championships presented by Gotham North and a Challenge Cup victory for the U.S. team at the FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Youth Finals. She turned professional in April 2019, and looking to the future, she hopes to continue developing as a jumping athlete. “There are many different aspects of being a professional that I have yet to learn, but it would be my dream to one day be able to put them all together and compete in this sport at a high level.”