By Marcella Peyre-Ferry
Event rider Buck Davidson is having a fantastic year including the Pinnacle Trophy and Rolex/USEF National CCI**** Championship in April on My Boy Bobby, owned by Carl and Cassandra Segal.
Davidson was the highest placing American at Rolex, finishing third behind Lucinda Fredericks and Bettina Hoy. The 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding finished with a score of 40.2 with a clear round in the stadium. Davidson also finished 15th at Rolex on Ballynoecastle RM, another horse owned by the Segal's, and was the only rider to have two clear show jumping rounds.
As of Oct 15, Davidson is ranked second on the leader board for the USEA's rider of the year, behind fellow Pennsylvanian Phillip Dutton. My Boy Bobby is also second in the point standings for Horse of the Year, while Ballynoecastle RM is in third.
"It's a dream come true. I'm very lucky. They've been super," Davidson said of his horses. "I'm quite lucky. I say I have the number one horse in the world and he's number two in my barn."
Davidson's two top horses are very different mounts "The only thing similar about them is they are both Irish. Bobby would be 17, 17.1 hands, while Reggie (Ballynoecastle RM) would be 16.1h. Reggie is a little bit more fractious in the mind, he's very strong and very spooky. He can be very careful. Reggie is a little more classy than Bobby," he said.
Davidson just started riding the 13-year-old Bobby last year. "He's easy to ride, and a fantastic jumper. He'd got a great brain. Probably show jumping would be his best phase then the dressage. In the cross country he maybe lacks a little bit of stamina," Davidson said. "He's a wicked nice horse."
Davidson is also thankful to be working with the Segals who own both horses. "They've been very supportive," he said.
08 Olympic Alternate
Davidson's success is not a one-time thing. In 2008, Davidson was ranked 4th in the US and was named an Olympic Alternate with Ballynoecastle RM. This year, leading up to Rolex, he had a perfect show jumping round at The Fork CIC*** April 2-5 in Norwood, NC to win the Adequan Gold Cup there with My Boy Bobby.
Davidson spent time in Europe this summer, where in August he placed 13th of 31 in the HSBC FEI World Cup Final CIC *** on My Boy Bobby, then in September, finished 11th of 82 starters in the CCI **** at the Burghley Horse Trials on Ballynoecastle RM.
"They've done everything and beat up on everybody in the US," Davidson cheerfully explained his reasoning for campaigning abroad this year.
World Cup Finals
At the World Cup finals in Poland, Bobby started with a dressage score of just 39.6 but lost two shoes and ended with 20 jumping and 16 time penalties cross country, followed by an uncharacteristic knockdown on the stadium course. "He would have been second or third," Davidson speculates.
Just before Burghley Davidson suffered a hernia, but he rode Reggie anyway. His dressage score was a respectable 51.8, and he managed to jump clean cross-country, but with 13.6 time penalties, and then a knockdown in stadium he finished in 11th with a final score of 64.30.
Davidson had surgery after returning to the US, but even as he was recovering he kept busy. At Plantation Field Horse Trials in Unionville, PA. riding close to his home base in Riegelsville, PA, he had seven horses across every division offered from Preliminary to the three star. His highest finish was in the Advanced Horse Trials where he finished second on Titanium, going perfect on cross-country and stadium. He was also perfect in cross-country and stadium on Absolute Liberty (owned by Sharon Will) in the Preliminary division to finish fifth on his dressage score of 37.40.
Davidson takes all of his horses seriously, and would be happy to take either My Boy Bobby or Ballynoecastle RM to the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky next year. "I don't care who I ride, just so long as I ride," he said. "There are a few others coming up behind them, if they step up and go well."