Boyd Martin has added another horse to his advanced string. The eventer put together a syndicate to buy Michelle Taylor’s Pancho Villa (Icarus De Carolina—SS Sassy, Stars N’Stripes), a 10-year-old Selle Francais gelding.
Pancho Villa was ridden to the advanced level by Louisiana-based eventer Sydney Conley Elliott. He caught Martin’s eye at a clinic in Texas in January. After trying him, Martin began following the gelding’s results at spring events and grew steadily more impressed. “I watched the results and kept an eye on him over Red Hills (Fla.) and Rocking Horse (Fla.) where he performed really well in the advanced, and that showed me that he was the real deal,” he said.
“There’s no question of [Sydney’s] ability, and I’m not going into this new partnership thinking I can do such a better job than her. I think she’s definitely one of those riders who’s very talented and brilliant and is a little bit unnoticed due to the fact that she’s in Louisiana,” he continued.
With his top mount, Neville Bardos, recovering from an injury and his Olympic ride Otis Barbotiere coming back into work, Martin decided to focus his efforts this year on rebuilding his string.
He was especially excited to find a U.S.-born and bred horse. “I’m very passionate about looking for top-class horses here in the states. At the moment I’m trying to rally a group of horses that I think will be in contention for the [Alltech FEI] World Equestrian Games next year [in France]. I’ve got a new group of young advanced horses coming through now,” he said. “This year it’s all about getting miles on them and experience on them and getting to know them.”
While Elliott admitted it was bittersweet to lose the ride on Pancho Villa, Martin was her first choice when discussing whom the gelding should go to with Taylor. “It was always a possibility of selling him, but I’m very excited. I could not have picked a better match for him. I can’t even think of another person who would get along with [him better,]” she said.