Boyd Martin is heading into surgery this afternoon at Christiana Hospital to have a rod inserted into his broken right tibia, which he cracked straight through following a mishap on cross country at Southern Pines Horse Trials yesterday. While piloting Steady Eddie around the horse’s third Advanced, the horse ducked out of the big corner in the new Stonehenge complex at the last second, smashing Boyd’s leg into the jump in the process.
“Steady Eddie is a great little horse,” Boyd said. “It’s only his third Advanced, and I made the mistake of trying to be a little too quick on him. In hindsight, I wish I’d ridden him a little more like I did at Pine Top and Red Hills and really taken my time setting him up for the fences rather than taking tight turns to fences that required a little bit more to set up.”
After doctors put a splint on the leg yesterday in Southern Pines, Boyd drove straight through the night back home to Pennsylvania, where his orthopedic surgeon immediately recommended surgery. “Because there’s a laceration on it, they’re worried about infection,” Boyd said. “So they sent me to the emergency room, and I’ll be getting an operation this afternoon. My orthopedic surgeon said they’ll insert a rod down the length of my shin, and he said I should be able to walk out of the hospital after this is done, and he thinks that by doing this, I’ll be back riding a lot quicker than I first feared.”
But when exactly he’ll be back in the irons is still a big unknown. “I’m on a tear at the moment to try to get on the team (for the World Equestrian Games in Normandy),” Boyd said. “Top four-star performances are needed, and I have three chances at Rolex, Badminton and Luhmühlen, so I’ve basically entered all the horses for all the competitions. Usually I’m more worried about the horses and getting them to the event, but this time, I’m the one struggling with the unsoundness.”
While Silva is usually the one who steps up to school the horses in dressage while Boyd is sidelined, she’s dealing with her own health challenges right now following the freak accident on March 5 that resulted in bleeding on her brain. “I’m in a bit of a pickle, since my usual dressage rider is out of commission,” Boyd sad. “Caitlin (Silliman) will be doing the dressage, and Phillip (Dutton) will potentially step in and compete them if that looks like the plan.” Michael Walton — who has been coaching Will Coleman in show jumping and helped jump Boyd’s horses while he was with Silva in the hospital — will also likely step in to help.
This accident now extends Boyd’s string of bad luck at Southern Pines to three years and counting, meaning he’ll likely be cocooned in bubble wrap when he returns to the Carolina Horse Park next year. “I’m absolutely cursed at Southern Pines,” Boyd said. “The year before, I fell of Last Monarch. Then the next, I fell off a scooter and Crackerjack (tearing six tendons and ligaments in his right ankle in the process), and this year, I fell off Steady Eddie. At least this time it wasn’t a scooter at the Saturday night party.”
Always in good spirits no matter which part of his body he’s managed to break, Boyd is no stranger to injuries, and having surgery is just part of being an upper-level event rider — though Boyd has probably had more surgeries than most at this point in his career. “It’s actually a bit scary when you come into Christiana Hospital and everyone recognizes you,” Boyd said. “Everyone was having a bit of a laugh. I’m starting to lose count as to how many surgeries I’ve had.”
Boyd and Silva make quite the pair right now in separate hospitals — she’s at Bryn Mawr while he’s at Christiana — with him preparing for his umpteenth surgery and her undergoing six hours of therapy each day. “She’s getting better and better,” Boyd said. “I saw her this morning for the first time in a couple of weeks, and her balance is still very wobbly, and she’s still struggling to open her eyelids. Her vision is not so good, but her speech is better and much sharper. Her mum is over from Germany acting as the Windurra team nurse.”
As for Rolex, Boyd isn’t making a definitive call on that yet. “I’m treating myself as a bit of a horse at the moment,” Boyd said. “I’ll see how I feel and make a plan after that rather than getting too many goals set up. The good thing is I’ve got a great group of staff and owners ready to help however they can.”