Feb 09, 2023

Behind-the-Scenes with Six-Time World Equestrian Brands USEA Rider of the Year Boyd Martin

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF at the 2022 FEI Eventing World Championships. Shannon Brinkman photo.

For the sixth time in his career, Boyd Martin took to the stage at the USEA Annual Meeting and Convention this past December to accept the Windy Acres Farm Trophy and the title of World Equestrian Brands USEA Rider of the Year. Claiming this title just once is an honor in itself, but to be announced as a six-time recipient is a true testament to the hard work that goes on behind the scenes all year round to conclude the season in such high standings. For Martin, the old saying, “teamwork makes the dream work,” is nothing but the truth when looking back at the 2022 season, which would not be possible without the massive team that stands behind him each and every day.

“I wouldn’t have experienced this kind of success in 2022 without my team and the people behind me supporting me, the horses and our business,” shared Martin. “My right hand is Steph Simpson. She’s the captain of our operation and has been with me for many years now. She manages all our top horses and keeps our staff organized and on task during our workdays. Her commitment and dedication to our team’s success are truly unmatched, and she’s irreplaceable in our program.”

But it’s not just Simpson who helps keep the operation at Martin’s Windurra Farm running smoothly each day.

“At home, everyone helps with everything, and there’s no chore or task beneath anyone,” said Martin. “We have a good young crew ready to tackle anything that comes their way. We have our dream team of boys including Bradley Champagne, who’s been with me for more than seven years. Bradley has become such a true horseman and manages the breaking in and handling of all our babies and young horses and does a superb job with each of them. Diego [Farje] joined us last year after we hit it off at the Pan American Games in Lima. And this past fall we were sad to see Joe Bowersox leave us after nearly a decade, but he got a fantastic job right down the road with my good mate, Phillip Dutton, and we’re proud of him for continuing on with his career.”

In addition, Martin has six impressive young women on his team: Gemma Kearns, Luiza Morgan, Jordyn Mary, Maya Mroczkowski, Ainsley McFadyen, and Henna Gruellich. “We have a great team, and they manage a lot of things, including me, so when I have success, it’s a reflection of them, their work and their dedication to our sport,” Martin said. “We have very little turnover in terms of staff here at Windurra, and I think that’s a testament to how we’ve created a culture that people enjoy and also feel rewarded for their work. We’ve had multiple members of our team stay for decades of time, and it has helped us create a lot of consistency in our program.”

Of course, it’s not just staff that play an integral part in Martin’s daily endeavors. The support of his owners is vital. In 2022, Martin competed 19 horses across various USEA levels. Those 19 horses are supported by 17 different owners and syndicates, all of which, Martin says, made a year like the past one possible.

Boyd Martin and Sky Moon, winners of the 2022 Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse East Coast 5-Year-Old Championships. USEA/Meagan DeLisle photo

“I’ve been very privileged to have an incredibly supportive and dedicated group of owners, all from different walks of life, who have gone all in to support me, my team, and our goals,” he said. “Keeping a strong number of horses going at the top level is hard work and every horse is unique and needs a different plan or approach. Our owners understand that what may work for one horse in our program may not work for another, and that’s something we’ve strived to make a part of our business philosophy over the years. We want their experience to be fun and rewarding, and in years like this past year, it’s always great to reflect on our success and show our appreciation and gratitude to our owners for their immense contributions and celebrate the accomplishments, which wouldn’t be possible without them.”

Martin taps into the resources of a long line of equine professionals to keep each and every one of the horses in his program at the top of their game. “Dr. Kevin Keane is our main vet, and he looks after the horses in a way that I think is unique, because he’s a competitor himself and understands how we can most effectively bring horses back into work, keep them going at the top levels, and how to manage their off-season with specific goals and competitions in mind,” he said. “He’s a huge part of how we create our competition schedule and understands what we want to do with each horse in our program and how we can get there keeping them feeling sound and at their best.”

In addition, farrier extraordinaires TR Serio and Andrew Neilson work hand-in-hand to manage the different shoeing needs of each horse at Windurra; JoAnn Wilson’s physio services leave every single horse on the farm feeling like new after a few sessions with her; and Carlos Cortelezzi’s chiropractic care makes a huge impact when horses need some additional work to help them perform their best.

Of course, when away for Championships you can’t bring your whole team with you, but Martin has nothing but excellent remarks about the U.S. team brought along to support each horse.

“At championships, Dr. Susan Johns and Kenny Bark are phenomenal,” he said. “They are really some of the best in their respective fields, and it’s an honor to get to work with them. They are one of the main reasons why we had so much success at Pratoni this past year, and I was proud to be a part of bringing home a medal for them this year.”

One of Martin’s most unique team members is his "guru" Rubee, who Martin met in Aiken, South Carolina, a few years ago. Rubee has one very important job: to help Martin find his center while at major events.

“He’s helped keep me sound mentally and is just a very spiritual guy,” he said. “He’s turned into a wellness and life coach for me, which is something I have felt improve my performance. He keeps my body ready, and that’s been a major change of focus for me as an athlete in the past several years, just focusing on my longevity as an athlete with all the injuries I’ve had. He likes yoga like me, and we work on that together, and mentally, he’s just been a really good person to keep me focused, grounded, and in the zone at the major events. He also doubles as a security guard for me and the horses at major events so we can get some quiet time, which reminds him of his bodyguard roots from years ago in Hollywood.”

Grooms, vets, farriers, bodyworkers, and owners all play very important roles in Martin’s daily program, but you can’t forget to mention the impact that the support of his family has on his performance day in and day out.

“This business isn’t easy, and sometimes it really takes a toll on you mentally, physically, and personally, but [my wife] Silva [Martin] and the boys are my rocks,” shared Boyd. “They humble me, they support me, and at the end of the day, if I make them proud, that’s what matters. Some of my most memorable moments in competitions have been because they were there supporting me and being a father and a good husband to my bride is something I try to enjoy every second of.

“Silva has the complicated job of being wife, mother, and coach all at the same time,” he continued. “I really admire her for everything she’s been able to accomplish with so much on her plate. Her dedication to me and my program is unmatched, and she sacrifices so much of her time to make sure that I’m able to be at my best. I’m really hopeful that we’ll see her back at the top of her game in the coming years too because she deserves all of the success in the world, and she’s as motivated as ever to get there. She has four horses going Grand Prix this year, and they’ve been flourishing in her program, so I’m stoked to see her take the reins back again and aim for the top. It’s important for me, as her old ball and chain, to make sure I’m being the most supportive and helpful husband I can be to get her back on the international stage again.”

Boyd shared that one of the most fun adventures he had in 2022 was getting to enjoy riding with his sons, Leo and Nox, who really started getting into riding. Anyone who follows Boyd’s social media channels has most likely seen the adorable videos of the young boys bouncing off their ponies and hopping right back on, displaying the same tenacity as both of their parents.

Martin (far right) with his groom Stephanie Simpson, pose for a photo with all of their FEI Eventing World Championship teammates. Shannon Brinkman photo

Of course, there are many more individuals who play key parts in Boyd’s program that deserve recognition including that of their longtime nanny (who Boyd now calls family) Susanna Martinez, his Pratoni teammates, mentor and “good mate” Phillip Dutton, personal trainer Kenny Ray, Martin’s personal physiotherapist Andrew Russell, his yoga coach Biz Magarity, Max Corcoran, Bobby Costello, Erik Duvander, Peter Wylde, the team at Incanto Sports Group, and the many sponsors who support Martin and his horses in various fashions.

“My goal,” said Boyd, “has always been to make Windurra USA the top training facility in the world and a place that Silva and I can look at and be proud of. What drives me every day is being number one in the world, and it’s a goal I’ve realized over time takes a lot more work than just winning a single competition. It’s being the best in the world at every level with the program, operations, facilities, and team, and those legendary results are the output of what you commit to putting in. We’ve made a massive investment into Windurra USA to create an environment that fosters a sense of greatness and is a constant reminder of why and how we push ourselves towards those goals every time we get on to ride and train.”

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