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 do you consider when you’re selecting a top event horse?
The number one thing I look for when assessing a potential upper-level horse is rideability and trainability. Often people get ‘wowed’ by the big fancy trot, or the amazing, tail-swishing scope over a jump, but at the end of the day, the best event horses in the world are willing to learn and easy to ride. Sometimes it’s a hard thing to evaluate when you’re trying a horse, but in my experience there’s nothing worse than ending up with a fast, crazy, extravagant horse that won’t relax and walk across the diagonal in the dressage test at a big event.
As a professional eventer, what’s the importance of maintaining an active social media presence in today’s world?
Equestrian sport has dramatically changed over the past five years or so; social media is a huge way to let the world know how your horses are going and to maintain your reputation. It’s also a very useful tool for selling horses and attracting and promoting sponsors. However, a lot of people are making this a bigger priority than being a good rider or trainer. In my experience, it’s good to throw something up on Facebook at the end of it all, but at the end of the day, it’s more exciting to be the winner of the event than having the most “Likes” on Facebook. I actually hired a couple of people to help out with my website, social media and sponsor relations so that I can focus on what I’m good at: riding and training horses.
How do you stay fit for riding?
To be honest, I’m pretty active because I have a lot of horses in work, and I’m basically riding all day. This does help with fitness; however, over the Christmas holiday, things slow down and you notice the number on the scale changing dramatically, so in January you have to change your diet and start getting healthy again. I probably go for a run once or twice a week but the bigger thing is watching what you’re eating. I also have a brilliant personal trainer, Linda Brown, who specializes in equestrians and she works with me once a week doing a lot of painful core exercises.
Over the past 12 months I’ve connected with a company called Isagenix, which is a meal replacement shake along with energy shots and supplements that suppress your appetite, and I’ve found this helpful. It’s also easier during an event not to think too much about what I’m eating, and I feel better and have more energy than when I’d scarf down junk food from the vendors between rides. That’s been a big change for me.
How do you manage the nutritional needs of your horses?
We’re very lucky that Purina actually provides nutritionists to work out our horses’ needs based on body weight and training and competition schedules. Smartpak provides our supplements and customizes them to each horse. We’re very particular about the hay we’re feeding and just recently started putting the majority of horses on haylage, which has a much higher percentage of protein. It’s very common in Europe, but not as easy to find here in America; fortunately for us, a few of the farmers in our area have just started developing it and making it available to the local horse community.
What do you do to keep your horses fresh, with all the training required for success in eventing?
While it’s important to spend enough time training that your horses are performing at their best in all three phases, you also don’t want to burn them out. We take our young horses foxhunting, and all of our horses, including Silva’s upper-level dressage horses, hack out on the roads and over uneven terrain, crossing rivers and stepping over fallen trees in the woods. Not only does this keep their minds active but it helps build different muscles and develop surefootedness that horses don’t get from going in circles on perfect footing all the time.