Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Boyd Martin: How He Proposed to his Wife, Getting Fit Without Going Fast, and an Olympic Legacy

Boyd Martin brings Aussie style to America along with his wife Silva Martin, a German Grand Prix Dressage rider.  He placed 9th at Rolex in 2008 with Neville Bardos as well as 11th with Ying Yang Yo in 2006.  Back in Australia he placed 8th at the Adeleide CCI**** with Orchard End Winston and smoked it in 2003 placing first on True Blue Toozac.  He's cheeky, talented and handsome.  Quite the one to watch out for.

Copyright Amber Heintzberger 2009

Q.  Where are you from originally? 
A.  I was born at Manly Hospital in Sydney, Australia.

Q.  What do you love about Australia? 
A.  The biggest thing I miss is the lifestyle.  It's a very relaxed lifestyle and I was brought up in it.  It's the one and only thing I miss about Australia.   You know, you go to a pub to have a beer and don't have to wear shoes.   On the eventing side:  the events are a lot more like weekend camping.   There are no stables; you build your own pens.  There are no hotels so everyone camps out for the horse trials which puts everyone in the same spot.  There's a big barbque at night.   It's a lot more social.   That's basically the only things I miss.  America is way ahead in every other department.
Q.  How did you come to ride in the States? 
A.  I rode Advanced since I was about 16 in Australia.   I was doing it for eight or nine years and did every three and four-star event in Australia and New Zealand.  I got a bit bored.  I had a young horse due for a 4-star so brought him over and did [Rolex] Kentucky with another Australian named Phillip Dutton.  Ever since I set foot in the Promised Land I've loved it.

Boyd receiving the Caramati Cup, Rolex 2008
Copyright Amber Heintzberger, 2009

Q.  Are there any places you've visited that you've particularly liked?  I like Unionville [Pennsylvania] where I'm living.   With the competing I've been to Chicago down to Florida and up to New York.  But there's no place like home.  I enjoy Pennsylvania and Unionville with the countryside; the feel of the whole place is fantastic.
photo by Mike McNally

Q.  How was your family involved in sports? 
A.  Both of my parents were very sporty.  My father was a  cross-country skier and went to the Olympics.  My Mom was a speed skater and went to the Olympics for America.   I have a sporting background and was pushed very hard to accomplish sporting goals as a young person--and advised to stay well away from college and university--to have a view of life as a sportsman.

Q.  How did you get into riding?
A.  I grew up outside the city on five or ten acres and we had horses we raced around on.  I was intrigued with riding horses.  Actually my sister was more into it than I was.  But when I turned fifteen and did 3-Day eventing I got the thrill cross-country and went for it.

Q.  Did you ever try sports other than riding?
A.  I was actually was a very good middle-distance runner and still hold the record for the Australian School-Boy 1500 meter.  I've run some half marathons in my time.

Q.  How did you meet your wife? 
A.  I met Silva when she came to Australia as a German dressage rider and she didn't know much English.   She's the good-looking sort and everyone was chasing after her.  For one reason or another I out-manouvered my competitors.   I was able to seduce her at the Newcastle Races one day and run around with her.   We had the same interest in horses and stuff and for some reason she stuck around longer than I thought she would.  I ended up signing her up.

Silva Martin. Copyright Hoofprints Photography, Video & Web Design.
Q.  How did you ask her to marry you? 
A.  I thought I had the feeling I was about to get dumped.  I thought, right, getting engaged buys me some more time.  So we went to Ayers Rock in the center of Australia.  I had a plastic ring so I wouldn't have spent too much money in case she said no.  I asked her, you know, and she said yes.  I figured if she said no I could push her off the rock.

We married at the end of 2006.  After [Rolex] Kentucky I went back home and signed the bride up and moved directly back [to America].   When we got married I thought that would make her a resident of America but, unfortunately, it didn't.  We didn't see each other for four months while she was waiting for approval.  

Photo by Mike McNally
Q.  If you were to give her flowers what kind would they be? 
A.  I would probably steal some from the neighbor's yard.

Q.  Do you have any pets? 
A.  No.  When I first came over I had cat called Mick.   She [Silva] made me get rid of him because he was always on the bed and he dribbled.  One of the only regrets I have about our relationship is losing my pet cat.

Q.  Who are the horses you have going right now? 
A.  My 4-star horse Neville Bardof: he got hurt earlier this year so hasn't gone out yet.  I have a ride on Remington and Benwald, Belmont and Bruce Davidson's Rock on Roses.  That's my group of horses.  One of my homebreds is about to go out.

Q.  Who's your favorite horse of all time?  
A.  A horse called Flying Doctor had a huge heart.  I bought him as nine year old and he had never evented.   I tried him out and fell off but he didn't run away; so I thought he was nice natured.  He carried me around for years and years and was pretty special.  We had no idea what we were doing; it was a matter of natural talent on his part and I had a bit of natural feel.  There wasn't much training or education but we had a connection and I suppose we both taught each other a lot through trial and error.   I gave him to young kid in Australia and they evented the lower levels. He died last year. 

Q.  How do you think Phillip Dutton would describe you as a person? 
A.  We're pretty opposite people.  He's old and wrinkly, he doesn't talk much and I talk a lot.  I don't know what he'd say, probably not too much.  I think we get along pretty well together even though we're quite opposite personalities.  That's probably why we've gotten along for so long.

Q.  How do you think Silva would describe you as a person? 
A.  Fantastic lover.

Q.  What are you most proud of in your riding style? 
A.  I'm a very good competitor. For some reason I go better under a bit of pressure at a competition.  I also have a good ability to accept all sorts of instruction and information from all types of people. 

Q.  What are your goals? 
A.  To get on this American team eventually.  Winning 4-stars I suppose.

Q.  What characteristics are necessary in a successful 4-star horse? 
A.  They need to be good at dressage, cross country and show jumping.  And they need to be pretty sound.

Q.  How do you like to condition a horse for an event? 
A.  Moving to Pennsylvania and working under Phillip--we train on hills so that has helped a lot. Getting fit without going fast.

Q.  What's your style around the barn?
A.  Silva is a German dressage rider so I struggle a bit with the cleanliness and order.  I could pay a bit more attention to detail.  The horses are all looked after and taken care of.  I like to stay busy.  I don't like it when there's not enough work.

Copyright Amber Heintzberger 2009

Q.  When you're not on a horse or in the barn do you have any hobbies
A.  Not really.  I like to take it easy since our lifestyle is so active.  When we actually get time away from horses I do yoga.  I've been doing yoga once a week for a couple years now.  With all the riding and falling off a lot it's good.  I quite like the mental side of it.  I adapt it to competition--staying relaxed and focused and stuff like that.

Q.  What kind of music do you listen to? 
A.  Australian hip hop like the Hilltop Hoods.
Hilltop Hoods

Q.  Do you have a favorite book? 
A.  Not fiction.   I like autobiographies of infamous criminals or famous horsemen.  Like The Damage Done: Twelve Years of Hell in a Bangkok Prison.  It's a  story about an Aussie footballer [Warren Fellows].  He spent 20 years in a Bangkok prison for smuggling drugs out of the country.  He was a top class sportsman who made a few bad decisions.

Q.  Is there any food that you just hate? 
A.  Not really, I'm not that into food.  The pickles and cheeseburgers at McDonalds.  They're no good.

Q.  What 3-Day eventer do you most look up to? 
A.  Bruce Davidson or Ralph Hill.  They both evented back in the 70's and were both characters and fantastic horse trainers and horse men.

photo by Kelsey Sherman


  1. Super Fantastic and has me laughing out loud!

  2. Good on you Boyd, great to see you doing so well. Bit of a different time to when we ran against each other at high school. Keep it up. Marc Bennie


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