Living the American dream – Boyd style


Photo by Nathalie Lawson

“I live, eat, breath, sleep horses. This is all I do; this is all I think about. I am a bit obsessive-compulsive, I am thinking about it all the time. I don’t have that many outside interests other than horses,” said Boyd Martin, member of the United States, World Equestrian Games (WEG) team. This dedication, a bold move to the United States, friendship, true love and a knack for business, makes Boyd a poster child for the American Dream. (About the poster thing…also because he is movie star gorgeous.)

Aussie carves out eventing career in America

Boyd came to America in 2007 aboard a cargo plane to compete at Rolex because it was easier to get to than Badminton. “I loved eventing here and decided pretty much straight away that this is where I’d probably see out my eventing career.” He based at Phillip Dutton’s and stayed with him leading up to Rolex. Both Boyd and Phillip are Australians by birth but they met for the first time in America. “I was friends with a lot of Phillip’s friends in Australia and got the recommendation from a lot of people that he was a good and helpful guy and he has been that and more.” Boyd’s wife and business partner, Silva Martin, came from Australia to watch him compete at Rolex. Afterwards they both returned to Australia for their wedding before they made the big move to the United States. Even though Silva is a high-level dressage rider, they both got their start working as assistant trainers at Phillip’s.

“I got a sneak preview of the eventing life here in America and he [Phillip] really enjoyed it.” Riding for the American team was not a hard decision for Boyd, “I’m riding horses that pretty much are all owned by Americans and I am making a living off the American eventing circuit. It wasn’t much of a decision because I was a dual citizen to start with. I thought I might as well just change to the old stars and stripes and see how that goes.”

Syndication king

He certainly has made a go of it and developing a reputation for being the syndication king in North America. He has numerous top horses owned by syndicates and is credited for popularizing this ownership system in the eventing world. “I came up with the idea that if you chop up a high quality and high priced horse into ten parcels it’s not too bad. I’ve done that five times now, and it has worked well. I have a wonderful group of people that have bought shares in a number of the horses. It has its pros and cons. But it has been a means to me to get to ride quality horses like Otis Barbotiere, Shamwari and Trading Aces. I don’t know many people like Bill Gates that will write a check for that right off the bat.”

Clicking with Shamwari

Boyd will be riding for the US at the WEG for the second time. Earlier this year, a syndicate purchased the horse he will be riding, Shamwari. “I’m friends with a guy called Niklas Lindback, he’s a Swede, I lent him a horse for Plantation horse trials last year. I said if anything amazing pops up for sale in Europe please give me a ring. A couple of months later he rang me up. Ludwig Svennerstal was thinking about selling this horse and I jumped on it.”

Despite Shamwari’s poor show-jumping record with Ludwig he was able to jump a clear round with Boyd at Luhmühlen. Their third place finish secured them a spot on the team. Boyd said, “That was our biggest concern when buying the horse, to be honest. His show-jumping record wasn’t that great. I just seem to have clicked with the horse; I think that show jumping is my strongest phase out of the three. When I tried him, I thought he was a very good jumper, a little bit unorthodox. I just got the hang of him and we are both pulling off some clear rounds which is nice”.

Boyd looks to improve upon his tenth place individual placing at the 2010 WEG on Neville. “I’ve got a fair bit of pressure on myself just because I think I am riding one of the best horses in the world. Obviously top ten would be lovely, but that is expected. It is not like Neville in 2010 when he came tenth and it was a bit unheard of. We hope for a good result.”

True friendship and gratitude

Some of Boyd’s syndicate members are going to experience the rare occurrence of having two horses compete at the same WEG this year. Helping Boyd out after he broke his leg, Phillip rode Trading Aces at Rolex this spring with a stellar run. It was a last minute decision made at Luhmühlen after Boyd was confident that his third place finish would secure him a spot on the team. “Mr. Medicott got injured at Rolex and I thought that Phillip might be short a horse. I figured his performance at Rolex on Trading Aces was so good that everyone would love to see the experience of Phillip on the team. It was a ‘no brainer’ to let him ride the horse.” The sole purpose of Trading Aces’ purchase was for him to compete at the WEG and Phillip is helping him meet this goal. With sincere gratitude, Boyd said, “If I am riding him or Phillip is riding him, it doesn’t really matter. That is what we are after and I think it is good for the country. It is nice to help Phillip out for once, he has helped me out a thousand times,.”

To keep up with Boyd, check out his sale horses or syndicate opportunities visit:


Check back tomorrow, for our interview with Silva and a slideshow of Windurra farm.

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