Silva Martin Building Success a Year on from Tragedy
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
Silva Martin has made a remarkable recovery from a “horribe, horrible” 2011, at a new farm in eastern Pennsylvania’s horse country and borrowing ideas from her U.S. team eventing husband Boyd Martin to develop up and coming horses to aim for a future American squad.
The 32-year-old rider showed off the depth in the horse flesh she is training when she dominated national fourth level classes–the next step is FEI small tour–with a couple of seven-year-olds, a nine-year-old as well as showing off some four-year-olds at a recent World Cup event not far from her home on a 70-acre farm (28 Ha.) in Unionville.
One of her top horses is the KWPN gelding Aesthete (Trento B x Unusual x Gribaldi), owned by her friend Faye Woolf. The horse was the four-year-old U.S. champion and fifth in the nation as a five-year-old with another rider, and was second in the six-year-old championship preliminary with Silva.
Rosa Char W is a direct reflection of her time in Australia and the Down Under connections of her and Boyd.
Rosa is an Australian-bred mare by Regardez Moi, the stallion of Australian eventer/dressage rider Heath Ryan, out of Yasmin by Medallion. After Rosa was born, they sold Yasmin in one of Heath’s auctions.
She also trains and competes, Duvent, a nne-year-old and at the same level that she regards highly.
In the recent compettion, Aesthete and Rosa Char won or came second in five fourth level classes. Silva also won and placed on a couple of four-year-olds.
The success comes after a 2011 in which a fire in Boyd’s barn killed six horses and injured four others. Among them was Neville Bardos, an Australian Thoroughbred eventing horse that came to symbolize triumph of spirit over tragedy. Neville Bardos, bought by Boyd for $850, was trapped in his stall by the fire for 45 minutes. The horse made a miraculous recovery to go back into competition.
Neville Bardos shared the 2011 U.S. Horse of the Year title.
That same summer, Boyd’s father died and the pair went to Australia. Then Silva’s father died and they went to Germany.
She also rode Aesthete to second place in the six-year-old preliminary test at the U.S. Young Horse Championshps.
Since that time, Silva said, “we’ve had a lot of good luck. We have some fabulous horses and people around us. I feel like we are very, very lucky to be where we are right now.
“A year ago, we didn’t know what was going to happen. Our lives kind of stopped. It was such a tragedy. We had to get ourselves out of it and kick on. We had no real goals because we lost so much.
“Boyd was very positive. He missed his Dad a lot, but he’s not a quitter. We both can’t believe where we we are.
“Our supporters and friends have been incredible and we wouldn’t be where we are without them.”
Silva has up to 20 horses in training, while Boyd, who rode on his first U.S. Olympic eventing team at London this summer, has up to 35 horses.
Silva jokes, though, that despite what she and her husband have gone through they have not been able to shuck stereotypical characteristics–she German, he Australian–that requires them to have separate training areas at their farm.
Even so, they help each other. Her polished German style is definitely a plus in dressage, especially in an era where many events are won on the dressage score.
Aestheteis being trained in everything up to Grand Prix, and she plans to compete the horse at small tour in 2013 to “see how we go.”
“He has an amazing work ethic,” she said. “He is an amazing person. He’s very honest, and will do anything for me. I have a very good relationship with the horse. Aside from talent, that’s the most important thing.”
Silva describes Rosa Char as a “fabulous horse,” getting stronger with time.
Rosa Char is owned by a syndicate that includes six owners that she hopes will grow to 10, an ownership model unusual in dressage but common for eventers and jumpers. Her experience with syndication has been positive, spreading costs among several investors while also creating a wider circle of owners to share the experience.
Boyd was the example of putting together the syndicate, as she aid, he knows what he wants and is not afraid to ask people for help–“the worst that can happen is they say, ‘no’.”
“I think it’s the way to do it,” Silva said. “You are in charge of training and management of the horse.
“But the people want to be a part of it. They travel together to shows; they’re really enjoying it. All the people in our syndicate are having a great time. It’s a real team.”
Duvent is a nine-year-old by De Niro out of a Rubinstein mare and owned by Melinda Waltman and Larry Smith.
“He is the hottest horse I have but he has amazing talent and is getting better and better,” she said. “He needs more time but will be really good.”
Her goal is to go to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero.
Although the U.S. is rebuilding its equestrian teams, she said she does not want to go to the 2014 WEG and struggle with a green horse.
“”I know I definitely have the right horses,” she said. “I’ll continue to work hard and do the right thing by my horses, not rush them.”
She has not yet been on a U.S. team, unlike her husband who was on the squad at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky and the Olympics in London this summer.
“My husband is a big step ahead of me,” she said, “but don’t worry…”