When Boyd Martin canters down centerline Thursday at the FEI Eventing Nations Cup Netherlands CCIO4*-L, it will be one of many team appearances for him, but the first time on a U.S. team for his horse Fedarman B.
“Bruno” holds a special place in the hearts of Martin and his team at Windurra USA in Cochranville, Pennsylvania, whose care he’s been in since the horse’s owner and former rider Annie Goodwin died in a cross-country schooling accident in July 2021.
Goodwin’s family entrusted Martin to take over Bruno, and the pair have formed a strong partnership, winning the Tryon International CCI4*-L (North Carolina) this spring. Most recently they finished 10th at the Mars Great Meadow International CCI4*-S (Virginia) and now will anchor the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team in the FEI Nations Cup, held as part of the Military Boekelo-Enschede three-day event. The competition began with the jog today and runs through Oct. 9. (The competition is being livestreamed for subscribers on ClipMyHorse.TV.)
“I’ve always admired the horse, even when I first started teaching Annie years ago,” Martin said. “It’s a huge honor and privilege to have the horse.
“I was lucky to be able to help Annie with her jumping training and her cross-country riding amongst other coaches, and the horse has always been a superstar athlete,” he recalled. “Beyond that, it was really enjoyable watching Annie’s career blossom with Bruno. To have Annie’s parents send me Bruno was such a moving, touching gesture. It’s a massive honor to continue Annie’s work with Bruno.”
Read on to learn more about the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Eurocommerce Washington—Paulien B, Fedor), owned by the Annie Goodwin Syndicate, from Martin and barn manager Stephanie Simpson.
• “Bruno was so used to Annie, so it was quite a change for him,” said Martin of bringing the gelding home to Windurra. “He’s a bit sensitive, and I’d heard lots of weird things about Bruno. He doesn’t like to be caught in the field, so usually he’s the first horse I ride every day so Steph and her team can turn him out. We’ve had days where it’s getting dark, and we haven’t ridden Bruno because he won’t come in from the field.”
“It’s like a low-speed chase,” Simpson added with a laugh. “He’s just longing himself at the trot in a perfect 20-meter circle around you, which is so infuriating because you don’t want to make him run, but he needs to come in.”
• He’s a bit sensitive about mounting. “You have to be a little bit cautious getting on him,” said Martin. “He’s a little bit skittish and cold-backed. We figured out that bribing him with a treat as I’m getting on distracts him.
“There was one point where [Goodwin] was considering selling him, and I tried him,” he continued. “It took me about half an hour to get on him. He was so used to Annie, and he’s a bit of a quirky horse. We laugh about it now, but he’s a bit cautious and nervous about other people.”
• He’s a barn favorite, but there’s a short list of people who are allowed to ride him at home.
Although he’s “easygoing” about some things, Simpson said, “We’re pretty selective about who rides him, mostly because he is a bit quirky and sharp.”
“It took us months and months to get to know each other,” Martin added. “He definitely wasn’t my ride at the beginning. At the beginning of this year I think we both started understanding each other a bit better, and he’s been absolutely sensational in 2022.
“He’s one of the favorites at our farm,” he added. “He’s definitely treated like royalty at Windurra.”
• Bruno is more than a horse; he’s a connection to a whole community of people who knew Goodwin.
“It’s amazing when I take him to competitions, I’ll often get a former working pupil of Annie’s come up and tell me how they worked for her,” Martin said. “I feel like I have a closer bond with some of Annie’s friends, thanks to Bruno.”
• He eats anything, but carrots, sugar and bananas are his favorites.
• He’s very independent.
“He was a one-person, one-program horse, so there was a bit of learning our system and our schedule, but he’s taken to it. He never says no to anything,” said Simpson. “I was hoping he’d be more attached to the other horses so I could bring him inside, but he doesn’t care about that.”
• He wears plenty of sunscreen to protect his pink nose.