Silva Martin Returns to CDI Competition With Two Young Horses
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Mar. 1, 2017–Silva Martin returns to CDI competition this week for the first time in two years with an 18-month-old baby boy in tow and an upbeat attitude that has helped her through personal challenges and made her loved and admired by her peers.
Silva will ride two young horses in CDI at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival’s Palm Beach Derby, although not at Big Tour as she is determined to do but a long way from events in recent years that deflected the trajectory of her life.
“Everything is back in the swing,” the 36-year-old rider told dressage-news.com ahead of competing a pair of American-bred horses–the five-year-old gelding Electric and Jada W, a six-year-old mare.
The German-born rider who moved to Australia where she met eventing rider Boyd Martin then moved to the United States and both became American citizens is remarkable for the way she laughs at the ups and downs of their lives.
A fire in their barn in West Grove, Pennsylvania devastated Boyd’s string of horses but one survivor was Neville Bardos that recovered from severe smoke inhalation to finish seventh in England at Burghley, one of the world’s top 4* events.
Shortly after, his father died in Australia and Silva’s father died in Germany.
Three years ago, Silva had an accident on a horse causing a serious head injury that put her in a coma and affected the sight in one eye.
Eighteen months ago, Silva gave birth to Nox Christoph Martin via planned C-section as a precaution because of Silva’s previous traumatic brain injury.
Then, at the beginning of this year her 12-year-old KWPN gelding Aesthete that was set to be her prime Grand Prix horse was humanely euthanized after severe colic. She competed the horse in the U.S. Young Horse Championships the same year of the fire.
“Everything is back in the swing,” she said of her life that moves between their training center in Cochranville, Pennsylvania, Boyd’s winter base in Aiken, South Carolina and Silva’s temporary home in Wellington during winter.
“I don’t do as many horses as I used to because I have Nox. I ride about eight and I teach. I have a nanny, which is awesome.”
The accident and the birth of Nox have had the biggest impact on her life in the past three years.
“The accident definitely slowed me down, no question because it took me so long to get back,” she said. “And the pregnancy also slowed me down. Then I had a c-section that also slowed me down because you lose all your core strength.
“So I feel like I’m coming back now, slowly. I’ve just got my strength back.
“The eye is not working. I still see double and I wear a lens. I’ve had four surgeries and I’m going to have more. I’m hoping they will fix it some time but they haven’t yet.
“I’m adjusting to it. It’s definitely different when you have only one eye, but you adjust to it.”
The same year of the accident, she had some “good success” in CDIs with both Aesthete and Rosa Cha W that she was aiming for the U.S. team for the Pan American Games in 2015.
“That was all exciting and then something bad happened,” she said. “I guess that’s life. You have ups and downs. When you’re up there you’d better be nice to the people on the bottom because you’re definitely going to end up there,” she laughed.
How has it affected her?
“I think the baby thing, like every mother, you struggle with trying to put your career first but also being a mum. It’s a challenge of balancing. I’m starting to get that.
“We’ll see once I start competing properly, we’ll see how that goes.
” In your head you have to juggle a lot because you want to be a mother but you also don’t want to forget about your career.”
The accident and Nox has not made her more cautious riding.
“No,” she replied to a question about whether safety had become a major issue, “that never worried me. It never has even after the accident. It was such a freak accident I feel it could have happened to someone walking down the road. I don’t think it was horse-related; it was just a stupid accident.”
And she jokes about how she has become used to Boyd, who rode for the United States at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, breaking bones.
“We’re pretty used to being in hospitals,” she said. “When Boyd broke his collar bone I was teaching and I said, ‘I’ll meet you at the hospital.’ Every other wife would be saying, ‘Oh, my God,’ and I’m saying what hospital are you at.”
Silva is focused on her young horses that she describes as “exciting” and wants to “make them my next top ones.”
She’s determined to get back to being a contender for an American team.
“I will get there again. But you need the right horse at the right time.
“I would love to make a team but at the same time I have a lot of other things going on. I’m still recovering and I have the baby, but I will be back there.
“I think you just have to put things on hold a little bit.”