Having admired the horses who competed there for years, Holloway and “Finn” took this year’s accolades.
Kip Holloway has admired the quality of hunt horses at the Virginia Field Hunter Championships for years. This year, held October 18 at Bull Run Hunt in Mitchells, Virginia, it was the judges who were admiring her horse when they crowned Holloway and her 10-year-old ¾ Thoroughbred x ¼ Hanoverian gelding, Fincastle, as champion.
It was a special moment to Holloway knowing that in the early 1980s, her father-in-law, Hank Holloway, won the Virginia Field Hunter Championships “on a very special horse. I always thought it seemed like a unique competition,” says Holloway, who is joint-MFH at Farmington Hunt in Free Union, Virginia. “I’ve been to the Championships to watch many times and have always been amazed at the quality of horses competing.”
She placed third at the Field Hunter Championships aboard “Finn” last year. “I was super happy with that and didn't think we'd really do any better [this year], but I thought I'd give it one more try, and it was a good thing I did,” she says.
Holloway grew up in Massachusetts and enjoyed drag hunting as a youngster. She moved to Virginia in her teens where eventually met her husband, Peter Holloway. They joined Peter's parents for hunts with Deep Run as often as they could. She also competed for years in eventing and said for her, the Field Hunter Championships are “the closest competition there is to eventing.”
In November 2013, while recovering from knee surgery, Holloway was doing what any laid-up horse person would be doing; she was shopping for horses online. “I saw the ad for Finn and called the trainer, Elizabeth Schneider,” she says. “She said that if he didn’t sell over the winter, she’d call me back in the spring.”
Instead, Holloway heard from Finn’s breeder, Russ Boraas, who said the coming 4-year-old was back at his farm. “He’d heard I had called about him last fall,” Holloway explains. Her mother-in-law, Sally Holloway, accompanied her to Boraas’ farm. “Russ went to lunge Finn while all these young horses were running around and a filly crashed through a wire fence,” Holloway remembers. “Finn just looked at them like they’re a bunch of idiots. He stole my heart right then and there.”
She hunted Finn at the end of his 5-year-old year and, though it wasn’t a perfect start, “he has turned into the nicest horse I will probably ever have the pleasure to hunt,” she says. “He's such a kind, lovely guy and it's a pleasure to be on his back every day.”