One of Boyd Martin’s top four-star partners and Phillip Dutton’s 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games mount, Trading Aces, has a new job this year after being sold to junior rider Alexandra Pielet to show in the equitation ring. Pielet, a winning pony hunter rider, trains with Timmy Kees and Molly Ashe Cawley.
Kees said that “Oscar” was a great choice for his 14-year-old student, who’s making her first big foray into the equitation ring this season after the first horse she had was injured. He noted that the gelding’s brain and attractive look was what drew them in. “He’s just a lovely horse, a really nice horse. The first time she rode him, he was nice and the second time she rode him, we were committed. It was just beautiful to watch. He’s got all the ingredients.”
Kylie Dermody (nee Lyman) produced Oscar through the CCI** level and took him to his first advanced horse trials. He caught the attention of Martin when he won the Dansko Fair Hill International CCI** (Md.) in 2011.
Oscar was owned by the Trading Aces LLC syndicate, a group of 10 of Martin’s supporters.
“It’s been one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make as a four-star event rider,” said Martin. “Trading Aces without question is one of the most talented horses I’ve ever ridden. In the dressage, he had the movement and presence, in the show jumping he was as careful and scopey as they come, and in the cross-country he gave me a brilliant, wonderful, bold feeling over the shorter courses. However, over the longer courses I felt that the horse really, really struggled with the endurance, and it was something I tried to address for the last couple of years, and I feel like it’s an issue that’s always going to haunt me and Oscar.”
Oscar was at his best in CIC competitions, winning the Richland Park CIC*** (Mich.) in 2013 and the Red Hills CIC*** (Fla.) in 2014.
When Martin was recovering from a broken leg last spring, he enlisted mentor Phillip Dutton to ride Oscar in his second attempt at the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** after retiring on cross-country the year before.
The pair placed eighth with a double-clear cross-country round and were subsequently named to the World Games team after Martin had given his blessing for Dutton to keep the ride and try out for the team.
Dutton pulled up Oscar, an 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Coevers Diamond Boy—Ballyvannon Beauty VII, Leaburg), on cross-country at the World Games when he tired, and Martin ran into the same problem at the Galways Downs CCI*** (Calif.) in November.
“After he pulled up at the WEG with Phillip and at Galway with me, I started thinking it was a little bit unfair on Oscar to make him do something that his body was struggling with, and I’d never be able to forgive myself if I pushed him so hard that the lights went out,” said Martin.
After winning the Wellington Eventing Showcase in January, Martin kept Oscar in Florida to see if he would excel in another discipline.
“The question we had to deal with was: Do we want an unbeatable horse trial and CIC horse, or should we try and change his career and take that money and reload,” he admitted. “It’s an unbelievably supportive group. We sent him to Marcia Kulak after the Wellington Invitational. In six weeks, Marcia transformed him from a four-star eventer into an equitation jumper. He was shown a couple of times in Palm Beach and was sold on Friday.
“The decision kept me up at night as it’s one of the hardest horses I’ve had to let go, but I’m proud to get the syndicate a good bit of money back, and I think Oscar will really enjoy the life as an equitation horse under a palm tree at WEF,” he continued.
Oscar will make his showing debut at the Winter Equestrian Festival (Fla.) this weekend with Pielet in the Medal and Maclay classes. She’s hoping to get to the indoor equitation finals this fall.