Contributor Spotlight: Dressage Rider Silva Martin

Getting analysis from an expert is always insightful and eye-opening. We’re lucky to have our newest Team SmartPak dressage rider (and wife to eventer Boyd Martin) contributing and walking us through the dressage at the World Equestrian Games. We’ll hear from her about how the dressage tests are going for the American Team but I thought it would be nice to get to know her a bit as well.

(photo copyright Amber Heintzberger)

It has not taken long for Grand Prix dressage rider and trainer Silva Martin to establish herself in the U.S. dressage scene, branching out also in dressage training for the eventing world. She and her husband Boyd relocated their business, Windurra LLC, from Australia to the United States in early 2007 and have been going great guns ever since. They are located at U.S. Olympic eventer Phillip Dutton’s True Prospect Farm in West Grove, Pennsylvania.

Tall, athletic and elegant, Silva is easygoing and approachable, quickly making friends in her adopted country. She has a solid education in dressage training and is happy to impart her knowledge to her students and horses. Silva spent a couple of winters training with Oded Shimoni and showing in Wellington, FL and he is enthusiastic about the dressage scene in the United States. “It still has not caught up to Germany,” she says, “but the dressage here has improved so much. There are so many good horses here, and the riding and training is getting a lot better. I think America is going to be a top country soon; people have the money to buy good horses, and a lot of trainers are coming here from Germany.”

In addition to her dressage students Silva’s expertise has attracted the attention of the eventing crowd. As well as Phillip Dutton and Boyd, Silva’s students include four-star riders Jan Byyny, Cayla Kitayama, and Julia Steinberg amongst others. Though her talent extends to these upper level riders, Silva is just as happy to teach a child on a pony or an adult amateur on an off-the-track Thoroughbred as she is the experts.

Silva spent many years working hard to follow her chosen career path with horses, and it was not always easy. She says, “One of the biggest difficulties was not to give up during my years of training in Germany. Looking back it seemed easy but I remember there were times where I was about to quit. It was a tough seven years with no money, working seven days a week with long, long hours. The job includes a lot more than just riding, especially when you are just learning. You have to earn the riding part. But at the end I’m so glad I never gave up. You have to remember it’s not just riding.”

Having taken over one of the barns at True Prospect Farm, Silva currently has a fabulous string of horses to train and compete, often with the help of her assistant trainer Caitlin Silliman.

Every morning Silva coaches Boyd on at least one horse. “It works out very well – Boyd is good and doesn’t talk back! It’s fun for me to coach him because he is a good student and we talk about his riding and the horses’ training. Sometimes Boyd also has a student with a jumping problem that I can help him fix with dressage.”

(photo copyright Amber Heintberger)

Silva often has sales and training horses in the barn; shortly after moving to the US she sold Theopolis Thisla, a horse that she trained herself to Grand Prix level.

Her current mount Jeff the Chef W is a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by by Jazz/ Frueling out of a Salute mare. Silva purchased him as a yearling and he competed very successfully in the small tour in 2009. In 2010 he has made a successful move up to Grand Prix level.

Rosa Cha W is an exciting young prospect that Boyd and Silva bred in Australia and imported to the US. She has won nearly every time out at training level and is currently being syndicated to a select group of owners. Silva is excited about her future as an upper-level dressage horse.

In 2010 Silva obtained her US citizenship and looks forward to representing the United States in competition. “Dressage has made me move all over the world. I basically made my hobby my job and I’ve met a lot of wonderful people through horses – like my husband!”

(photo copyright Amber Heinzberger)

Silva is appreciative of her supporters and says, “I am very lucky to have great owners who are great supporters of mine and also dear friends. Boyd and I would not be able to do what we do without all these guys.”

A few competition highlights:

Silva and FS Tiger Lily won the Championship for Four-year-old Horses at Dressage at Devon in 2007, then came back and took the reserve championship in 2008 in the Championship for Five-year-old horses.

In 2008 Silva and her own Jeff the Chef won the Fourth Level Championship at the BMLM Finals, where Silva and Wasabi Rosa claimed the reserve championship at Training level.

In the spring of 2009 Silva and Prosecco won the Prix St. Georges at the Wellington Classic. Jeff The Chef W placed third in the Developing Horse Class at the Palm Beach Derby. Also Silva and Sea Lord placed second and third in fourth level at Dressage at Devon in 2009

In October 2009 Silva and Comet won the reserve championship at the CBLM dressage championships, and placed third with Jeff the Chef in the Intermediaire championship.

Current horses include Sea Lord, an OTTB owned by Shannon Stimson competing at Intermediaire; Jeff the Chef W, owned by Windurra USA and competing at Grand Prix; Rosa Cha W, owned by Windurra USA and competing at training level; young horses Constantina RRS and Duvent, owned by Larry T. Smith and Melinda Walton.

(bio written by Amber Heintberger)

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