Buck Davidson loves Ballynoe Castle RM. Like, LOVES him. Somewhere on Buck’s farm, there is probably a tree with their names carved in it. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had matching red-and-yellow friendship bracelets. In Buck’s eyes “Reggie” walks on water — and today at Richland Park the dressage judges seemed to agree.
The pair swooped in at the end of the day to best a field of 45 CIC3* competitors with their score of 38.40. By the time Buck swung his leg over Reggie he’d already ridden the test four times on other horses: Carlevo (tied for 2nd), Wundermaske (tied for 7th), Copper Beach (10th) and Be Mine (11th), not to mention four others in the CCI2*, CIC2* and Advanced divisions.
When we caught up with him after Reggie’s test, before he even knew his score, he wasn’t bashful about picking favorites — or favorite, rather. If he was judging, he said, he’d put Reggie “about 20 points ahead of all of them.”
“He’s just a competitor and if I was judging he could have stood on his hind legs and I’d still put him ahead,” Buck says.
Buck and Reggie are one of American eventing’s longest running bromances. Together they’ve taken a crack at two World Equestrian Games, seven CCI4*s and 41 FEI competitions. Buck knows Reggie, now 15, like the back of his hand and it shows when they’re on stage.
Buck says that he didn’t have quite enough time today to give Reggie his usual warmup, as he literally hopped off Copper Beach and onto Reggie.
“He wanted to cough a little bit at the beginning,” Buck explains. Even those of us watching, though, could see the horse trying to stifle it, like one might while at church or sitting through a monologue at a play.
“He tries his best. When he coughs now he coughs when it doesn’t matter — on the short side or when a movement is over.”
It will be fun to watch them doing their thing out on cross-country Saturday, but no doubt Buck and Reggie will be having the most fun of all.
“I just have to every time sort of pinch myself at how lucky I am,” Buck says. “He’s just a joy and I’m so thankful to have the relationship with him.”
Buck’s test on Reggie, courtesy of The Horse Pesterer:
Lurking 2.9 points behind Reggie is his barnmate Carlevo, who is tied for 2nd with Emily Beshear and Shame on the Moon.
Carlevo, an 8-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Carlevo LLC, is a relatively new ride for Buck. He came over from Germany earlier this year having previously competed with Dirk Schrade through the CIC2* level. Buck moved him up to Advanced at Jersey Fresh in May, where they jumped clear and nearly on the time cross-country.
Buck describes the horse as steady, rideable and capable of a better score than the 41.30 they turned in today.
“I didn’t feel like I did a terrific job,” Buck says, explaining that he too would have benefited from a bit more warm-up. “I’m disappointed in myself but excited about the horse… There’s way more improvement in there, which is exciting. It’s kind of fun for me to have a horse where you’re disappointed with a 41, but we still have two more phases.”
Sharing the runner-up seat is Emily Beshear and “Delta,” the striking silver mare with whom she came 2nd in the Bromont CCI3* in June.
“I was thrilled with Delta today,” Emily says. “She was very good. If anything though she was really lazy, which is a new thing.”
Delta’s classic modus operandi has been to go in the ring and get a bit distracted and flighty. Not today, though.
“I was having to kick quite a bit,” Emily explains. “That was a new thing and I think I gave away a few points here and there, lacking expression and small things.”
Emily and Delta knocked the rust off in the Intermediate at Fair Hill a couple weeks back, having spent the summer improving overall strength and confirming their flying changes: “They still could be smoother but at least now she seems a lot more comfortable and confident doing them.”
“This is definitely her first time stepping back up and she feels like she’s even better than she left off at Bromont, which I’m really excited about,” Emily says.
Video of Emily’s ride, courtesy of The Horse Pesterer:
CIC3* dressage photo gallery:
CIC3* top 15 after dressage:
Lots more to come, with more dressage tomorrow and of course an exciting weekend of run-and-jump still to come. Stay tuned!