Boyd Martin and Trading Aces slogged through the mud as the second to last pair on course, delivering a clear cross-country round to cap a tough day for Team USA here at Boekelo. The time doesn’t come easy to Oscar, and Boyd has struggled with him this year, retiring just a few fences from home at Rolex and trying to figure out exactly how to dial it in with the horse. Today, Boyd said he backed off a little when Oscar felt tired, as opposed to kicking on like he did at Rolex, and he thought it did help. Of course, the going didn’t exactly help matters, as the footing had deteriorated to soup in many parts of the course by the time Boyd and Oscar set out. They came home with 18 time penalties to sit in 35th place overnight.
If Oscar jumps well tomorrow — and Boyd said he doesn’t think that will be an issue — he’ll be qualified to compete at the World Equestrian Games next year. Boyd is no stranger to getting a heavier horse fit, as he did it very successfully with Remington XXV, and I have total faith he can do it again with Oscar. The horse has all the pieces; it’s just a matter of putting together the puzzle. When I asked Boyd to give some perspective on a tough day for Team USA, he put it very simply: We can’t give up. These trips to Europe are tough, especially when it’s a team competition and the day doesn’t go our way. There are still many bright spots to point to for the weekend, and we’ll send two Americans into the show jumping tomorrow looking for clear rounds. Kick on, Team USA.