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.
What did you consider when you were choosing stabling for Windurra?
When we moved to Windurra, we were in crisis mode after the fire at True Prospect Farm in which six of the event horses were killed. Silva had already moved to our new property with a few of the dressage horses, but I hadn’t planned to relocate the event horses just yet. Under the circumstances, we needed affordable, safe stabling that could be assembled quickly. I bought some shedrow stables off a racehorse trainer in New York and we added more shedrow stabling from Horizon Structures. We also added some shedrows from Horizon Structures to Silva’s stabling area. They are solidly built by local Amish craftsmen and their customer service is fantastic. Moving forward, we are looking at constructing an indoor arena with attached stabling but we are still considering all of the options and details for this massive project.
What is your horse Neville Bardos up to?
My old pal Neville has retired from the upper levels of competition but is still cantering around the lower levels with up-and-coming rider Joe Bowersox. Before that, he was ridden by my assistant Mike Pindleton, who gained valuable mileage with Neville as he was learning the ropes of eventing. Neville had a fantastic career and a rather famous comeback after surviving the fire at True Prospect Farm and finishing seventh at Burghley CCI4* in England just a couple of months later. Neville doesn’t owe anyone anything and it’s satisfying to have him doing an easy job here on the farm and enjoying his life.
How do you decide which horses to compete in which events?
My younger up-and-coming horses tend to compete in a lot of the local events like Plantation Field, Fair Hill Horse Trials and Maryland Horse Trials. We are fortunate to have some first class events just a short drive from our farm in Pennsylvania, and also in Aiken during the winter when we are based at Stable View Farm, in the heart of Aiken horse country. Stable View has a number of competitions at the farm, and we’re close to Pine Top Farm, Sporting Days in Aiken and more. For the most part, I know the particular terrain and courses at many of the events that we go to and I know what might suit the individual horses.
With the bigger international competitions, where and when I compete can be determined by what each individual horse needs as far as furthering its education or obtaining qualifying scores to compete at the next level or at a championship. I also coordinate with our team coaches to decide the best game plan for qualifying for and pursuing selection to team competitions like the Olympic Games and World Championships.
If a horse receives a travel grant, it obviously makes the decision to compete overseas a lot easier! This fall I’ll be taking Steady Eddie, Denise Lahey, Pierrie Colin, and George and Gretchen Wintersteen’s Australian Thoroughbred gelding to England to compete in the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials thanks to a Land Rover/US Equestrian Federation Grant. The grant will be split with Crackerjack, Lucy Boynton Lie’s 2003 Thoroughbred gelding, so that he can compete at Etoiles de Pau CCI**** in France.
Finally, geography can play a role in which events I choose to compete; a lot of my owners live in the Millbrook, New York, area. Both Fitch’s Corner and Millbrook Horse Trials are really first-class events and also great social events, and it’s a great opportunity to spend time with many of Silva’s and my supporters since the events are right in their backyard.
What qualities do you look for in a groom?
Over the last six months, I’ve been without a head groom and operations manager for my business. This particular role takes a huge amount of pressure off my workload so that I can focus on training horses instead of planning things like vet and farrier visits, feeding horses, turnout schedules and so on. As a professional event rider, your head person’s role is to take care of all the details. In the sport of eventing, the little details can make a big difference in the health of your horses, the effectiveness of your training program, and when it comes down to it, winning and losing.
In searching for a groom, I need someone responsible, reliable and hard working. I’m not looking for a working student who wants to dabble in eventing for six months and then move on; I need someone dedicated to my program, who takes their job as seriously as I take my riding. I believe I’ve finally found that special person and she will start working for me in August. I hope that this partnership will lead to great results.
What do you think of competing your event horses in other sports?
Silva and I have always “cross-trained” our horses. In the winter, we take them foxhunting. I’ve taken some of her dressage horses out eventing, and she takes the event horses to dressage shows. I think it’s important for the horses to try new things and have a change of scenery, which keeps them fresh and makes them more adaptable to new situations.
I’ve been training with British show jumper Richard Picken, who lives in Lexington, Kentucky, and have decided to start showing in a few jumper shows as well. We will show at the Kentucky Classic, at the Kentucky Horse Park, along with Will Coleman and Phillip Dutton, who also train with Richard. A big advantage to this location is the future four-star horses can have exposure to the atmosphere inside the big Rolex Stadium before they compete at the Kentucky Three-Day Event. We can also focus on our show jumping skills, jump more rounds and try a few new things without the pressure of completing a horse trial resting on the result. A great bonus is there’s often pretty decent prize money at the jumper shows if you do well!