Saturday, December 13, 2008

Silva Tops USEA Auction

Tonight during the USEA Convention an auction took place to raise money for Equine Cardivascular Research. Lessons with several riders were auctioned off, followed by a few items of interest including a saddle pad signed by the members of the Olympic Team that competed in Hong Kong. The top-earning item was a bracelet, donated by Karen O'Connor, made from the tail hair of her four-star pony partner Thedore O'Connor who passed away earlier this year. The winner of the auction, in which bidding stopped at an impressive five thousand dollars, graciously returned the bracelet to Karen.

She may not be an eventer but Silva's lessons have become popular, and she had the distinction of being "auctioned" for the highest price, at $1200 thanks to eventing enthusiast David Jefferey.

Boyd achieved the second-highest price, of $950, (and for the record, both of them kept their clothes on!), from bidder D.C. McBroom, who bid highly for Silva as well.

Photos copyright Amber Heintzberger

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Boyd to Ride for USA!

Boyd Martin to Ride for USA!

Contact: Amber Heintzberger, 828-289-0658 or


Following an outstanding competition year in which he finished second overall on the USEA/Nutrena Rider of the Year leader board, Australian event rider Boyd Martin has made the decision to change nationalities to officially represent the United States in equestrian competition.

Boyd and his wife Silva have lived in the U.S. for two years, and since Boyd’s mother is from the United States he has dual citizenship. Boyd and Silva plan to remain in the United States, so Boyd has formally declared to the FEI that he will represent the US in future competitions. Silva, who is a German citizen, has filed the papers to change her citizenship as well.

“In a sense I’ve already got a family tie to American representation, because my mum represented the U.S. in the 1968 winter Olympics in speed skating,” said Boyd. “When I told them I was thinking about making the switch, both of my parents thought it was a great idea. Since I’ve been an American citizen for the past 15 years it was just a case of changing my nationality as a rider, but it’s still a big deal; when I contacted Sara Ike, the USEF High Performance manager for eventing, she made it clear to me that as far as the FEI is concerned, you can only change once.”

One reason for the change is that Boyd and Silva both have many American owners, and they feel that it is more rewarding for owners to have horses represent their own country.

“They put a lot of effort and money into it, and American owners are American patriots that want the opportunity to represent their country,” said Boyd. “Silva and I love the country and the sport here and we have both decided to continue our careers here, probably for the rest of our lives, so we want to support the sport in the United States.”

Boyd reassured his friends back in Australia that his decision was nothing personal: “I rang and informed Wayne Roycroft before my decision went public and informed him personally. The point I really wanted to make clear to Wayne is that it was a decision that was nothing to do with Australian selection. I have never, ever felt I have been treated unfairly by Australian selectors. At then end of the day, I have chosen to move my life and career to America as a professional event rider and I feel I will be in a stronger position being an American rider, riding in America.”

He also recognizes that changing nationality is a long ways from getting selected for a US team. “I realize I have to come up with great performances on top-class horses to achieve my goal of representing the US in competition,” he acknowledged.

Based at Phillip Dutton’s True Prospect Farm in West Grove, Pennsylvania, Boyd and Silva’s business focus is on competing, training, lessons and sales. They also have a breeding program in Australia and import several horses to the United States each year. Silva has had tremendous success competing in the USDF Young Horse program and their homebred gelding Jeff the Chef won the Fourth Level Championships in 2008.

Boyd is planning to bring over a few special horses and is seeking owners to take part in this journey. “Part of my big focus this year is trying to get some people involved with some of these horses that I own in Australia and have picked to bring over to America as potential team horses,” he commented.

In 2008 Boyd’s competitive successes included winning the CIC** at Bromont (Canada) riding Galileo, finishing 9th at the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** on Neville Bardos, and winning the Intermediate Gold Cup at the Stuart Horse Trials on Bailey Wick. Capping this stellar year, he and Remington XXV placed fifth in the CCI** and Belmont placed fifth in the CCI*** at the Fair Hill International three-day event in October. Boyd currently has several horses competing at the upper levels of eventing, so 2009 should be another exciting year, this time representing the USA.

For more information or to contact Boyd and Silva go to

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

On Thursday Silva and I are heading down to New Orleans for the four-day US Eventing Association Annual Convention. We’re looking forward to checking out the city and starting to get more involved with the ins and outs of the USEA. There will be a lot of great forums we’ll be attending as well as High Performance meetings. I’m also looking forward to the awards luncheon, as it’s the first time I’ve been awarded anything of this stature in the USA. I’ll just have to keep an eye on Silva when she heads out shopping along Bourbon Street!

I think it’s great having seminars at a convention like this, away from a competition where you’re concerned with your horse and all that goes with it. It’s a good chance for all of us to focus on issues on details of the sport like qualification.

There’s been lots of talk about what we need to do to make our sport safer. My point of view is that making the courses easier would just make more riders eligible to compete at the higher levels before they’re ready. Sooner or later you’ll have a bunch of horses and riders thinking they’re ready for the three and four-star levels and they’ll have a rude awakening when faced with international standards.

I think that each horse should be required to complete a minimum of six events with a clear cross-country round and one rail or less down in the show jumping before they are allowed to move up a level. For instance you’d have to complete six novices clear on cross-country and with a rail or less down before you could move up to training level. This would produce horses slower – it would take around nine months or a year to move up a level – which creates confidence and a better understanding for the questions asked.

A big problem is when horses are rushed, they tend to have accidents when they’re not ready for what they’re doing. We have to slow down the training process. Also when you’d buy a horse you’d be assured it’s ready for the level it’s advertised at. A horse could still do advanced by age eight, which I think is plenty young enough, and with the short format we’re seeing horses compete until they’re 17 or 18 years old anyway. That’s a long time.

I hope I can get involved in the debate of making eventing safer. I really think this is the answer, to slow the rapid progress. If you can’t do a prelim, why move up to intermediate?

Finally I think the convention will be a fantastic social event to hang out with my fellow competitors, owners, sponsors and supporters. Usually at an event I’m walking courses and running around and riding, so it will be nice to have this opportunity to spend some quality time with everyone.