Everything is Coming Up Roses at Boyd Martin’s Windurra
By Nikki Alvin-Smith
It was a privilege to sit down with Olympian eventer Boyd Martin last week and to hear how his team of crack horses is going this season, to chat about his relationship with Horizon Structures and the ongoing development of Boyd and Silva's 70 acre farm ‘Windurra’, Cohranville, P.A., and to see the hive of activity that is ongoing in his galloping lane.
I asked Boyd what the name Windurra actually means and aptly enough he explained it meant ‘Flying Horse’ in the Aboriginal language from his homeland in Australia. Anyone that has seen Boyd tear up a cross-country course first hand knows Boyd indeed is always flying around on his horses. It seems that this busy rider has much going on in all aspects of his life.
The farm has a super air about it, perhaps in part due to the abundance of red roses that adorn everything from the mirrored dressage ring to the stable yard and gardens. The breezy May afternoon picked up the fragrance of the roses as I watched a young rider schooling in the dressage ring. It was a memorable moment especially for this British born author and lover of roses. I will confess to wanting to step up and offer the rider a few tips. Not the purpose of my visit however. The plantings reminded me of Hilda Gurney’s California arena with the bright red flowers, and Grönwohldhof, Germany, home of Donnerhall, where I trained eons ago. Gardens and horses are a perfect combination.
Boyd explained how he and Silva came to live in the U.S.A. and how their Windurra U.S.A. business and farm started out.
“We came to live in Pennsylvania after starting our careers in Australia. We had sorted 10 years of a pretty good successful business there in Australia, but we always felt there was something bigger and better out there. I think in about 2006, I got on a cargo plane with my horse, Ying Yang Yo, and ended up at Rolex Kentucky three day event. Absolutely loved it. Before Rolex Kentucky, I based myself with a fellow Australian, a guy called Philip Dutton that lived just down the road here in Chester County. As soon as I saw the countryside here, I knew that this was the place for me. Couple years later, we managed to scrounge up enough money to buy this corn farm here, about 3 miles down from where we were training at True Prospect Farm. When we got here there was this house, and a six stall barn. We soon had to rapidly change it to a training facility to cope with all of Silva's dressage horses and my event horses.”
The design of the stable yard is a typical eventing yard based on my experiences in Britain. The shed row design facilitates great air quality for the horses. As the renowned British eventer Mary King would attest, good fresh air is extremely important to all horses but especially eventing equines.
Boyd shared how he and Silva developed their farm.
“When we first bought this farm, we had to move Silva's team of dressage horses in. She had about 18 horses in work, and we only had six stalls. Lucky for us, we happened to bump into a company called Horizon Structures, which operated just down the road. We went down there, found out what they had on offer and happened to meet the owner, Dave Zook, who we are still good friends with today. He recommended these pre-fabricated shed row stalls. They look very high end. We got 12 stalls built by his team of Amish men, they are 12 by 12 stalls with automatic watering and windows. That was seven years ago and they still look good as new today.”
As many of you know, in 2011 the stables where Boyd Martin’s horses were stabled caught fire. He was in dire need of immediate replacement and he turned again to local Amish building firm, Horizon Structures based in the neighboring town of Atglen. 2011 was a very rough year for Boyd and Silva as not only did they suffer losses from the fire, both of their fathers died the same year.
“About six months after buying the farm, I had my horses at another property. Unfortunately we had a terrible fire there and it burned to the ground. So I had to move to this farm with my horses in a huge hurry. Ironically, we found some second-hand prefabricated stalls that were built by Horizon Structures down the road. They were owned by a notorious criminal that was currently serving time in prison. Lucky for me, I picked up 26 stalls they were the 12 x 12 Horizon Structures stalls. They were secondhand, but they were good for what I needed. And in a hurry, I had a shed row of 26 stalls ready to move in and start business,” said Boyd.
During my visit to Windurra the ongoing construction process was very apparent with large earth-moving equipment passing back and forth behind the shed rows. The property already boasts a cross-country course but more development is underway both on the original property and on the neighboring property that the Martin’s have recently acquired.
“Over the years, we've been slowly developing the farm here in Cochranville, Pennsylvania,” continued Boyd in his charming Australian accent.
“ We were so impressed with the quality of Horizon Structures that we went back to them and purchased a gazebo for the dressage ring, the run-in sheds for the paddocks, and we just ordered another shed row of stalls for the new block of land next door.”
It seems that this busy rider has much going on in all aspects of his life. Together with his beautiful wife Silva, a German born Grand Prix dressage rider and his young son, Boyd travels extensively to compete. I asked him how the season was going thus far.
“Life’s been good this year, we've been very, very busy here at the farm in Pennsylvania. We started the year down in Aiken, South Carolina. We've got a great team of horses. Rolex was an exciting three-day event this year. I had two horses Cracker Jack and Steady Eddie. Cracker Jack went like a champ, unfortunately Steady Eddie slipped at the Normany fence and took a fall. It happens. He had so much gas left in the tank and was completely O.K. afterward. That being said, it was an epic event to remember. Silva has been going strong with the dressage horses, a very successful winter season down in Palm Beach. It's great to be back at our farm in Pennsylvania. We have lots of really, really good quality young horses coming up. So life's been busy. I've been inventing every weekend pretty much. We've bought some new horses, we've sold some. So it's like usual, fast and frantic.”
Windurra USA is set on rolling fields and is the perfect setting for a cross-country course and exercise space for eventing horses. There is a steady stream of visiting riders that come to train with Boyd and Silva. Truly Boyd lives to be in the saddle and it is hard to find Boyd ever off a horse! So we are extremely grateful that he took time out to talk to The Merry Band at the Catskill Horse about his relationship with Horizon Structures and his backstory.
If you’d like to share in some the knowledge from this world-class eventer you can garner some great tips on everything from building your farm to training horses from the Horizon Structures You Tube channel Boyd’s Bits. Coming soon is an up close and personal on camera interview where Boyd will share his wealth of advice on building an indoor arena and what constitutes a dream indoor.