Olympic Eventer, Boyd Martin comes to Wisconsin | Wisconsin Horse Photography |Eventing in Wisconsin
Olympic Eventing Athlete, Boyd Martin gave a clinic in Wisconsin this past summer, and FRP was there to capture some of the fun! Saddle up and ride along…
Trident Farm in Deerfield, Wi hosted Boyd for the clinic this past July. While the clinic started in the arena, the following days all of the exercises were conducted in the adjacent grass field. I carried myself and my gear to the cheerful tent of auditors which was situated right in the thick of the action (literally feet from some of the jumps), it made me smile as I thought it so typical of eventers to be in thick of things. I imagine the contrast of dressage auditors seated in bleachers at their clinics, with notebook in hand, keeping meticulous notes, and laugh a little to myself. I know different disciplines have their stereotypes, sometimes unwarranted, but the contrast of chaos vs. order made me smile.
As I arrived, one session of riders was just finishing, with the next group saddled up and ready. I found Boyd Martin (am I actually breathing the same air as this person?!) to be quite personable, chatting with the upcoming group, checking/adjusting their tack where he thought it necessary, giving their horses a good pat. He remarked on their rides from the previous day, remembered (almost) everyone’s name, and never seemed to run out of enthusiasm or warmth, no matter how many hours he’d been teaching in a row. I found all of this very encouraging. At no point did the clinic feel impersonal, from my perspective. As an auditor (who also happened to be focused on photography and videography), it was like drinking from a fire hose of information, sprinkled in with Aussie-isms. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Speaking of this Aussie speech, here are some my favorite catch phrases from that day:
Come on, make it happen.
Whatever it takes.
Y’alright, mate? (in a calm, unruffled manner if a rider had an unplanned dismount)
This gaol… (idk how to write “this girl” in an aussie accent)
Whinging /WIN-jing/ : complaining persistently and in a peevish or irritating way.
→ He still doesn’t pronounce it with the American word “whining” though he’s been in the country for a minute, still, I told my husband how Boyd pronounces it and it’s become a staple in our daily conversation. “Quit yer whinging.”
No smiling. (he wasn’t kidding!)
He won’t get better standing still.
→ Did you have any other "Aussie-isms" that stuck? Write them in the comments!
Most warm ups started in the large, open field, on a circle. One group was told to “ride like cowboys”, one handed, deep in the seat, relaxed. Some riders definitely grew up watching such riding like I did with the good ol’ John Wayne movies. Top notch cowboy form!
They’d move on to working on extension and collection at the canter; a bounce fence that they either had to bounce through or go through on a collected one stride. And soon enough they were taking jumps in tandem, piecing a whole course together after a while. As an aside--Some riders were noticeably glazed over with the I-am-in-the-presence-of-an-Olympian look, I thought for sure someone was gonna pee their pants. Love you guys. It's like you were back in 4H, terrified of the judge :-) I'd probably be the same, to be honest, lol. Anyways...
One thing that stuck with me was how unconcerned he seemed about the rider’s form over the jump. Now there was a lot of great form, don't get me wrong, but I’ve noticed this with event riders in the cross country setting…a defensive position is more typical, of course, and even if it’s ugly, the attitude of “just get over it” and the ensuing thrill of victory is encouraged. It's a bit of a relief coming from a more perfectionist background. While setting your horse up well and not throwing off his balance is important, riders were encouraged to let the horse find his feet. After a certain point, let the horse use his brain and figure it out. I’ve had trainers who insist that we riders must finesse every single footfall, but cross country riders know that you want a horse who is willing to obey but also willing to trust himself to get the two of you safely over an obstacle. My own horse has noticeably grown in this area in the last few years. There are definitely times where I pat him on the other side of a jump and say whoops, thanks for figuring that one out buddy, my bad!
The exercises all build on each other until riders are jumping around the entire grass field course. In general, riders’ eyes get wider and wider as the jumps get higher and higher–Boyd isn’t letting anyone off easy by the end, and maybe he’s forgotten what a beginner or mid level course height should be!
There are combinations and interesting stride lengths or winding paths to the next obstacle. Many horses are buzzed up, while a few admirable tried-and-trues jump it like it’s a children’s class. As a spectator, I’m especially fond of the Dutch Harness Horse (my own horse’s breed) who is absolutely unruffled, unphased, and taking supreme care of his young rider the entire time.
There are some mishaps over the course of the few days and all I can say is, Boyd does not suffer any whingers. Although good humored and good natured, he doesn’t offer much sympathy about a naughty horse’s behavior (see quote “Make it happen, whatever it takes” and “he won’t get better standing still.”) I will say that he was kind and acknowledged that amateurs and every rider there, had a day job, and that it just takes hours in the saddle, hundreds, thousands of jumps, for things to become second nature. I thought him very in touch with the realities of most riders (i.e. us non-olympians) and despite our love for the sport and all of our efforts, we don’t have the luxury of only focusing on our riding sport and skills 24/7. And that’s okay.
It was a great turn out, great riding and much bravery on display! A friend who participated told me she was still icing her back three days later :D My neck and shoulders were a little sore from so many hours behind the lens, but I really couldn’t complain, I wasn’t the one being pushed outside of my comfort zone on this occasion!
We’ll see if 2023 brings Boyd Martin back to Wisconsin, a little birdie told me it might be in the works, so keep a weather eye out. And if so, I’ll be there to get some snaps of you confidently clearing whatever he puts in your path, you can totally handle it!
Many thanks to Pam & Paula for inviting me to photograph this clinic, I can't wait for what 2023 has in store for their program and riders.
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All the best,
Are you planning a clinic or event for 2023? Forest Road Photography captures both event + portrait photography in Southern Wisconsin. Connect with Jess to get your event on the FRP calendar!
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Spring events on the schedule 2023:
April 14-16: Midwest Horse Fair: Vendor booth. Raffle Drawing + Free Home Art for Portrait Bookings!
April 29 &30: Daniel Stewart Clinic at Trident Farm
May 20-21: Laura Graves Dressage Symposium at the ALLIANT ENERGY Center