Warmblood O

By Boyd Martin Home or Abroad?

ne of the biggest challenges American riders have is getting hold of the very best horses. In all three Olympic disciplines, at the very

top it really does come down to how good your horse is. Today, all three sports require a specialty- bred horse. In eventing, now the sport

has shifted to put a little more emphasis on dressage and show jumping, so that means a horse with a bit of Warmblood bred into a mostly Thoroughbred pedigree is the ultimate competition horse. I still think a good, big-boned, calm Thoroughbred is the best event horse in the world, but these days finding them is like looking for a needle in a haystack. A few years ago when a bunch

of us Aussies decided to leave our homeland, a few of my mates, Jonathan Padgett, Kevin McNabb and Chris Burton, went to Eng- land while I came to America. We have all stayed good friends and always enter a great debate over who made the best decision, choosing Eng- land or America. While I think America was the best choice for me, one thing I agree on is those guys have better access to the best horses in the world: they’re only an hour’s flight to the Irish Sport Horses in Ireland, the Selle Français horses in France, the Holsteiners and Hanoverians and what have you in Germany and the Dutch Warmbloods in Holland. As soon as one of these top event horses comes on the market they can hop on a plane and be trying it and purchasing it the next day. In America, even though we have the best

Thoroughbreds in the world, we haven’t created a breeding system that focuses on breeding top sport horses. In Germany, say, breeders are breeding a thousand mares trying to produce the perfect show

jumping horse; here you have some serious breed- ers, but you also have some with two mares they breed to the fashionable stallion of the moment. The challenge is our country’s size. I know there

are very well-bred horses here but if I was looking for a three-year-old, there might be one I like in California and another in Alabama. It’s a huge effort to look at one horse here, while in Germany you can see 20 in a day that meet your crite- ria. I really hope the breeders in America band together to come up with a system to produce top, top eventing horses. Like I said, we have the best Thoroughbreds in the world and with frozen se- men available there’s no reason we shouldn’t be outbreeding the Europeans. I’ve been fortunate enough

Boyd riding the American-bred Pancho Villa at Jersey Fresh in 2015—“one of the best horses I’ve ever ridden,” he says.

to go to Europe regularly for the past couple of years to look at horses. It’s a very challenging trip because usually you’re there for two or three days, looking at

horses someone else might have looked at the day before and turned down. You’re putting faith in the possibility that your horse-of-a-lifetime might be available in those three days. I’ve been fortunate to take horses to the Olympic level using this system, but it’s sometimes a game of roulette. On my last trip I decided to change my plan of

attack and plan early. A couple months before the travel date I got in contact with a few horse deal- ers and let them know I was keen to look at horses and gave them my criteria so they could line them up before I booked my trip; this way a lot of horses that weren’t appropriate had been sifted through already, and I was down to a small group of top horses that met my needs. But there are risks. One of the hard things with

Warmbloods Today 73

Amber Heintzberger

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