Well known for both his fun-loving approach to life and his indefatigable work ethic, Boyd Martin has represented the U.S.A. in three-day eventing at two Olympic Games and two World Championships, and was on the gold medal-winning Pan Am Games team in 2015. Boyd’s wife, Silva Martin, is a grand prix dressage rider and they have a son, Nox. Boyd and Silva train out of their own farm, Windurra USA in Cochranville, Pennsylvania, and spend winters at Stable View Farm in Aiken, South Carolina.
Do you have any tips for polishing a dressage test before a competition?
I’m fortunate that my wife, Silva, is a professional dressage rider and schools my horses before big events. If you have access to a trainer who can school your horse correctly, it will make your job as a rider much less complicated since you won’t have to undo bad training later.
That said, there are a few keys to scoring extra points in dressage, namely not giving the points away. First of all, know the test! Going off course is not only a lousy feeling, it costs points and possibly a placing or two. Performing the test correctly, with each movement at the right time and in the right place, is an easy way to score points in the dressage.
Ride forward, make your circles round, ride smooth transitions, halt square. When you have the basics, then you can start asking for the bigger extended trot or things that will earn extra points. While it’s tempting to go for it every time, sometimes it’s better to play your hand a little close. Remember you’ve still got two phases after dressage. A slightly conservative but correct test is always a good place to start, and when you’ve really got that down, then you can start adding more exuberance and really going for a winning score.
I was thinking about helping out at an upcoming event. Do you think it’s worthwhile to volunteer at events?
Competitors can start to take for granted the amount of effort that goes into putting on an event, especially from unpaid volunteers who work long hours in the pouring rain or the blazing sun. Be they dressage scribes, ring stewards, cross-country jump judges, traffic control or the people who put the decorations on the cross-country course, running an event takes a tremendous effort from a large group of people. Many volunteers are regulars who willingly do these jobs again and again. When you take the time to help out at an event, you’ll see just how much work goes into it, you’ll get the respect of your fellow competitors and you’ll probably learn a thing or two in the process.
Describe what you look for in a set of galloping boots.
The boots that I designed with Majyk Equipe are light and breathable and don’t retain a lot of heat. They also don’t hold a lot of water, which is important when you’re going cross-country because wet, heavy boots can actually alter the horse’s galloping stride. They also come in great colors, which isn’t technically the most important thing to consider, but it makes them more fun. Whatever type of boots you use, it’s important to keep them clean after every use to prevent rubs. I tape over my boots as extra security on cross-country, because even the best fasteners aren’t foolproof and you’ve got to protect your horse’s legs when you’re galloping and jumping solid obstacles.