Saturday, October 9, 2010


My camera was literally smoking at the end of the event, so pardon any clarity issues with the shots.

Photo credits Lisa Thomas,  Mid-Atlantic Equestrian Services

Friday, October 8, 2010

Dressage Horses Training at Home (With Videos!)

Now that I am back from WEG it is time to focus on my horses again. I am so lucky that I have such a good group of horses to train and show. Shannon Stimson and her husband Joe, Melinda Walton and her husband Larry Smith, Sara Reese, Jacky Gilbertson and Faye Woolf are giving me the opportunity to train and show their wonderful horses and I am very thankful for that. I also have some very nice horses in work that I am selling for their owners.

Right now Duvent, Sea Lord, BB, Rosa and London Venture are getting ready for the CBLM and GAIG championships, which are held at the end of this month and the beginning of next month.

Sea Lord is going to finish his year at the championships in PSG and Intermediaire 1. He had a great season and I am looking forward to the championships and his chance to show off what he knows.

Even though he is showing in the small tour, I have been working on the piaffe and passage a lot in the last few weeks because I think it makes him stronger in all his work. When I first started teaching Sea Lord the piaffe and passage his legs were going everywhere except for underneath himself! He has always struggled with keeping his long spider legs underneath himself and it was very funny because you could see how much he was trying to work it out but could not get coordinated. Now he has figured it out and is getting better and better. I think that this kind of work makes him stronger and helps his canter work as well, since he also struggles at staying under enough .

Sea Lord is a wonderful horse to work with because he tries 110% every day. He and I have been working together for so long now and it is going to be an amazing feeling riding him in his first Grand Prix, hopefully next year!

Here is a video of us working yesterday :

Duvent is going to show Second level at the championships. Since Duvent has been with me for only 2 or 3 months we have only done two shows together and he qualified for Second level straight away. He is ready for Third level and I have entered him in our first Third level in the open show on the Saturday at the CBLM championships.
Duvent has been such a pleasure to work with - he is a very talented horse who loves to work and is wonderful to ride.

Duvent is a very forward thinking horse and gets a little excited about simple changes and things like that. He has improved so much in the last few weeks. I think he is getting stronger and the collection in the canter is getting easier for him. He has a very big canter and at first he struggled to collect but I have been working a lot on transitions within the gait, making him canter very small and then big again. He is really starting to get the idea. The trot work is easy for him; he has a wonderful trot and the lateral work is just beautiful.

Here is a video of us working yesterday :

I also took a video of little CeCe yesterday. She is our princess in the barn, everybody loves her so much. She really is like a person! We have to remind ourselves how young she is all the time; she is only 4 years old but, if you did not know that you would think she has been around forever.

CeCe loves her work and has such a good attitude all the time. I work her the way I start all my young horses: in the arena maybe three times a week and on the other days I work her out on the grass, the gallop track, or we just go hacking around the whole farm. She enjoys working outside very much. It is so important for young horses to go outside and not just see the arena because it keeps them happy about their work and teaches them that they have to work in any situation.

Here is a video of CeCe working yesterday:

I will make some more videos of my other horses in the next few day and tell you about their progress.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Reflections on My First WEG Experience

Boyd Martin and Neville Bardos finished tenth individually and were members of the fourth-placed US team at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky.

Today I’m back to work here at True Prospect Farm in Pennsylvania. I woke up yesterday morning and headed out to the farm and rode 14 horses, of which 13 of them jumped, and rode Remi in preparation for Maryland this weekend, where I’ll be competing seven horses from novice to intermediate.

I had a good trip home from Kentucky with the WEG horses and had plenty of time to think about what I’ve achieved: the biggest thing I feel is a huge sigh of relief. I suppose that revolves around having achieved my lifelong dream of competing at the WEG; it’s a goal I’ve been striving for in the last 14 or 15 years and when Neville crossed the finish line of the show jumping I was ecstatic not only with his round but with the completion of my dream. It’s taken many years of hard work and endless disappointments but finally I’ve done what I set out to do.

The reward in the WEG, it seems to me, is that I got my best possible performance out of my horse when it really counted. Representing my country at an event like that sent shivers down my spine; I worried not only about letting myself and my horse down but the country behind us. That said I really got to the start of the WEG feeling like I’d left no stone unturned in my training and preparation for the event. By cross-country day I’d lost 17 pounds of my normal body weight: I quit drinking for the past two months and dedicated my life to getting Neville going the best he could. If it did not work out, I knew that I could not have tried any harder.

The decision to qualify for and compete at the WEG was financially crippling because I had to walk away from months of income and leave paying the bills to Silva, who’s been grinding away while I focused on training my horse. In hindsight I think the US Federation needs to come up with a financially supporting system for the riders that dedicate their lives to performing their best at these championships. They need to work out a system that supports the riders that are doing the business at the top level, horse after horse, year after year.

The Federation spends tens of thousands of dollars in funding riders that have never done a three-star in their lives, sending them on trips overseas accompanied by an entourage of coaches, managers and selectors, which adds up to a lot of money being funded toward Young Riders having their first crack at a high level event in another country. Instead the USEF could be supporting world-class events like Rebecca Farm, Jersey Fresh, Galway Downs and Fair Hill, which for me is ten minutes down the road. Remember that Neville Bardos, who was the highest-placed horse at the WEG is a product of the Fair Hill three-day event: he placed fourth there in 2007 and won in 2009.

I feel like the strong, proven riders desperately striving to bring glory to their country at the world championship level are neglected financially in their bid to be all they can be. In my opinion, the only combinations that should receive travelling grants are the ones capable of a top-ten finish in 4-star events. Anything else can be achieved here at home at the world class events we already have! We have to learn to be champions in our own back yard before we can take on the world.

Obviously America was heartbroken after looking like we were going to get a medal and then watching it swiftly disappear. As riders we have got to have the heart and chin to stand up and take the blame ourselves. None of us can sit back and blame the vets or coaching staff, competition standards or anything else. The fact is, we weren’t good enough on the day and we’ve got to become better riders. It’s important that we don't come up with excuses! We need to look back and work out the mistakes we made in our preparation and at the competition and make a change. It’s as simple as that.

The last month at the training camp leading up to the WEG was an amazing experience for me. I’ve improved my riding so much with the coaching of Mark Phillips, Oded Shimoni and Katie Prudent. All three of these equine geniuses did their best possible job giving us the chance to do all we could do, but it just wasn’t our day. What I learned during this month of intense training has improved me as a rider more than I improved over the entire last year. It just comes down to focus!

Looking forward to London 2012 I feel like one of the big changes I need to make is to improve the quality of my horses. To win medals I feel like I have to go on a quest to find top quality horses and to try to pair them up with enthusiastic, exciting owners to bring glory back to America. I know this is a tough challenge as good horses are as hard to find as good owners. I also feel like my riding still needs to improve to do battle with the Michael Jungs and William Fox-Pitts of this world and I plan to dedicate my life to raising the quality of my riding to reach the same level of riding ability as these eventing medalists.

I want to make a special thank you to the Juvonens, who own Remington. After competing in and completing the WEG I feel with all my heart that Remi would have had an equal or better chance as Neville. Neville was fit and ready to rock and the selectors went with him, but Remi was in lightning form in the lead-up events. I take my hats off to Ron and Densey, who never showed disappointment over their horse getting overlooked. It felt like they were also the owners of Neville at the WEG, and it is a huge positive feeling as a rider to have people like that behind you.

There are a couple of key people in my life that made a huge difference in getting me to the starting line with Neville: they range from the man that taught me how to work hard and ride in Australia, Mr. Heath Ryan; Phillip Dutton in America who’s treated me like a son since the day I got here and has guided me on my path in this country; my wife Silva who has not only tried to help me with dressage but who has put up with me when I’ve been unbearable, dealing with the stress and tension of these events. There’s also a huge support structure around Neville including the grooms, vets and blacksmith. Hundreds of hardly paid, un-thanked hours were put into the preparation for the WEG by these pilgrims but without any one of these people I would have never got to do what I just did.

I’d also like to thank everyone that’s had anything to do with me since coming to America. The amount of support I’ve felt as an American rider through all avenues has inspired me to give a personal best experience. I’ve felt no other feeling in my life compared to galloping around the course at Kentucky with tens of thousands of people cheering me on. The feeling will stay with me til the day I die, so a big thank you to everyone.

Last but not least I’d like to thank my wind-sucking, wild-eyed horse Neville. I’ve spent my life complaining that he didn’t have a big enough trot and was too hot to do dressage and never really realized how much heart and “try” this horse has showed me. He’s probably not the most talented horse I’ve ever ridden but he’s the gutsiest horse, who’s never given up, one day in his life. It shows that a horse with these characteristics is worth his weight in gold - he did everything with ease. So to Neville, thanks for everything! In hindsight, it was the best $800 bucks I have ever spent!


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Zanadoo Sold!

Congratulations to my student and friend Claudia Schulz who bought Zanadoo last week. I am so happy for her! Zanadoo is a great horse and perfect for Claudia. I am looking forward to working with them and wish them all the best for a successful first show season together!


Monday, October 4, 2010

Video Clips of Boyd and Neville from the WEG

Videos of Boyd and Neville's superb performances at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games are showing up all over the internet. Here is a sampling - just google "Boyd Martin and Neville Bardos WEG 2010" to find the latest additions.

Dressage Video thanks to SmartPak

UPDATE: Post WEG Interview Rescheduled for Tuesday 10/5 at 12:30pm EST!!

The post-WEG radio show was rescheduled while Boyd travels home from Kentucky. We hope that you will listen to the show tomorrow from 12:30pm -1:30pm EST for a WEG wrap-up interview with Boyd on Holistic Horse Radio from Equilite, makers of Sore-No-More and sponsors of Boyd and Silva Martin.

Calling in to the show is encouraged, so be sure to call in and ask Boyd lots of questions!

1 (646) 378-0957

Tune in via or click here to go directly to the radio show index.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Personal Best for Neville at World Equestrian Games

Today Boyd and Neville cantered into the stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park and under tremendous pressure gave the performance of their careers so far. With all eyes focused on them they posted a double clear show jumping round in the final phase of the Three-Day Eventing Championships at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. The first of the Americans to enter the arena, they were the ones the home crowd had been waiting for and the entire stadium shook with thunderous applause as horse and rider crossed the finish line, Boyd punching the air triumphantly.
Buck and Reggie also cantered around in good form, but Phillip and Woodburn had the bad luck to bring a rail down in the final line, adding four faults to the team score. When Mandiba refused the gate jump and then knocked it down when he did jump it, the US team was solidly out of the medals in fourth place; only the unlikely occurrence of William Fox-Pitt leveling the course would have opened the door for the Americans to make the top three again, and he wasn’t about to let that happen! So the Brits took the gold, a young and very excited Canadian team took silver, and New Zealand made the long trip to the USA worthwhile by taking home the bronze.
Team USA: L-R, Karen O'Connor, Boyd Martin, Buck Davidson and Phillip Dutton

Thrilled with his personal result and his first opportunity riding on a team, Boyd says, “Neville has outdone himself; this is his best four-star score of his career. We had a great weekend and it’s been a wonderful experience that I’ll never forget. As far as the team, things didn’t go our way but even though it’s disappointing, it’s not heartbreaking. Everyone rode their guts out to the best of their abilities and things just didn’t turn out the way we wanted them to.”
Boyd with Jane Beshear and KY Governor Steve Beshear

With the sun setting on the eventing championships Boyd and his family and friends will have a good party and then it’s back to work. Next weekend Boyd will compete a group of horses at the Maryland Horse Trials, including his WEG reserve horse Remington XXV, owned by Ron and Densey Juvonen, in the intermediate horse trials.

After heading back to the green pastures of Pennsylvania Neville will have a month of rest and relaxation while Boyd regroups and plans for the future. He says, “Neville’s still a young horse and has a lot ahead of him."

fourth place for team usa

1. Great Britain, 2. Canada 3. New Zealand 4. USA
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double clear!

Boyd and Neville double clear, go USA!
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relaxing after a job well done

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Boyd on Three Days Three Ways Blog

Courtney from the Three Days Three Ways blog caught up with Boyd yesterday for a video interview. Sadly, it was so windy that the audio quality was not up to Courtney's high standards and she transcribed the interview into text. It still makes for entertaining reading, if not viewing, so be sure to have a look.

To read the interview click here.