Eventer Boyd Martin joked that his home in Cochranville, Pa., looks like a hospital ward now that he’s returned from a winter spent in Aiken, S.C., with a broken leg after falling off on cross-country at the Carolina International in Raeford, N.C., on March 23. His wife Silva, a Grand Prix dressage rider, is also recovering from a serious head injury sustained in a fall at the beginning of the month.
“Our household is a little bit comical this morning with Silva with a walking frame and me on my crutches,” he said.
Boyd was riding Steady Eddie, an 11-year-old Australian Warmblood (Jet Bull—Tudnela) owned by Gretchen Wintersteen, Pierre Colin and Denise Lahey, in the advanced division after successfully jumping the course on his new ride, Shamwari 4.
The pair had completed two advanced horse trials before the Carolina International, and Boyd said that although green, he rode “Eddie” to be competitive.
“He’s always been a very careful jumper, and he went around very well at his advanceds at Pine Top [Ga.] and Red Hills [Fla.], but I was very cautious and set him up and showed him all the fences on those runs,” he said. “I think I fell into the trap of getting a little too competitive at Southern Pines. He was jumping around the course very well, and unfortunately I rode him like a seasoned four-star horse, rather than a very green, new-to-the-level horse. I carved into a turn and didn’t give him enough time to read the fence. It was a fair question that I didn’t give Eddie a fair chance to look at.”
Eddie glanced off the B corner element of fence 12, the new Stonehenge complex. As he ran out, Boyd hit his leg on the edge of the corner and was thrown off. He immediately knew he’d broken it.
He was diagnosed with a broken tibia, and the strength of the blow created an open wound on his shin.
“I take full responsibility for the fall,” he said. “I think the question that [course designer] Hugh Lochore designed was a very fair question, and it was a great competition.”
Boyd joked that he often has bad luck at Southern Pines. He had a hard fall at that venue with Holly Hudspeth’s Last Monarch in 2011, and last year, he fell of his motor scooter and his intermediate ride Crackerjack in the same weekend and tore six tendons and ligaments in his right ankle.
“It was a world-class competition, but unfortunately, I’ve always had terrible luck and seem to end up in the local trauma unit in Southern Pines,” he joked. “I was very proud to tell Silva that this year’s injury was from a horse fall rather than a scooter fall!”
Boyd underwent surgery at Christiana Hospital in Wilmington, Del., to put a metal rod in his leg on March 24.
“They’re very positive,” he said. “I was lucky I’ve become very familiar with the top orthopedic surgeons here at Christiana Hospital. They’re the top sports guys that often operate on the Phillies and the Flyers players. It’s a quick turnaround because it’s a rod that goes straight down the middle of the bone, and they’re expecting me to walk out of the hospital tomorrow morning. I’m pumped up for a big year, and I feel like I’ve got four great four-star horses in Shamwari, Trading Aces, Sir Donovan and Otis Barbotiere, so I’m eager to put in a great performance on them at one of these spring four-stars.”
He plans to listen to his doctors and go off of his comfort level to decide when to get back in the saddle. “Unfortunately, leg injuries in riders are the worst possible place on the body to come back from,” he said. “I’d rather break an arm or a collarbone any day because you can get riding a lot quicker. I’ll see how I feel and make the smartest decision I can when it comes to crunch time.”