As he cantered along a split rail fence, with the sublime confidence of a retired champion showing that he could still strut his stuff, Reggie’s single white pastern flashed against the grassy green backdrop of Apple Hill Farm, in Chester Township New Jersey. In his competition days, the white-footed distinction set him apart from the field and was a beacon to his owners Carl and Cassie Segal (pictured above).
“When you look at eventing horses there are so many bays, but when we looked at Reggie, we could always tell, because he has a white marking on his right, rear leg,” said Cassie Segal.
Nicknamed “Reggie,” a nod to Indiana Pacer’s all-star and precision three-point shooter Reggie Miller, the handsome, 20 year-old Irish Sport Horse is renowned in the equestrian world as Ballynoe Castle RM, the United States Eventing Association’s Highest-Scoring Horse of all time.
Elegantly refined and breathtakingly perilous, eventing combines dressage, cross-country, and show jumping, in trials that harken back to the sports’ military roots, where officers and their cavalry chargers were tested for courage and stamina, as well as parade ground precision and athletic ability. “So many people don’t know what eventing is,” said Carl Segal. “We just say it’s a horse triathlon.”
BreyerFest, July 10-12, 2020 will be hosted virtually on BreyerHorses.com and on Breyer Social Media! Honoring the 70th Anniversary of Breyer and 31 years of BreyerFest, you do not want to miss this incredible celebration of the horse!
The Segal’s property manager, Matt Kiener, introduced them to eventing 18 years ago, and along with rider/trainer, Jessica Kiener was instrumental in helping them find their first National Champion, “My Boy Bobby,” an Irish Sport Horse, like his best friend, Reggie.
“Matt and Jessica went to Ireland to purchase a horse for Jess to ride and they came back with a horse named My Boy Bobby. Jess brought him up through all the levels and then Buck (Davidson) rode him to the National Championship. So, we’ve had two National Champions. It’s just amazing,” said Cassie Segal.
At the urging of rider/trainer Buck Davidson, whose pearly smile is as recognizable as Reggie’s one white foot in the eventing world, the Segal’s purchased Reggie from a friend of Davidson’s in 2005.
“We got very lucky to get him from Ireland,” said Cassie Segal. “We purchased him sight unseen and then Buck molded him into the horse he is today.”
Known for their even temper and versatility, Irish Sport Horses are among the favored breeds in eventing. They’re a cross of fiery thoroughbred stock and Irish Draught, a powerful, dependable horse, whose ancestors pulled the chariots of Celtic chieftains into battle.
“He has a huge heart,” said Cassie Segal. “He will just try his heart out for Buck.”
“He’s good in dressage. He’s good in cross-country. He’s good in show jumping,” said Carl Segal. “When you’re talking about success, there’s a lot of ups and downs in this sport… It’s like a roller coaster ride. With Reggie, it’s been more of a straight line. He was a little bit easier to deal with. You don’t have a horse that does that well very often.”
For nearly a decade, Reggie and Buck competed together in the sport’s biggest three-day events, including the Burghley, Badminton and Rolex 4-stars, and two World Equestrian Games. Reggie retired in 2017 during a stirring farewell at The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, but accolades continue to come to the “GOAT,” an acronym that the Segals’ use when referring to Reggie, that stands for greatest of all time.
Breyer, the company that is famous for their beautifully sculpted and detailed model horses, has chosen Reggie as its “Celebration Horse” for BreyerFest 2020, an annual three-day festival held in Lexington, Kentucky, that combines “the real horse world and the model horse hobby.”
“The festival is huge,” said Cassie Segal. “You have people who come from all over the place to trade these Breyer horses… they have 20 – 30,000 people there every summer.” (Our interview with Cassie Segal for this article took place prior to the ongoing health crisis. This year's the festival will take place virtually.)
This year’s theme is “Celtic Fling,” and Reggie will be featured as the festival ambassador. It’s an apt role for the docile, Irish charmer who is used to working a crowd, and was even ridden down the wedding aisle by his longtime groomer, Kathleen Murray.
“Kathleen was with him from the beginning and she just took such good care of him,” said Cassie Segal. “She was always by Reggie’s side. In her wedding, in the summertime, they put ribbons and flowers in Reggie’s mane and she rode him in her wedding dress. That was fun. And then during the ceremony, they got married in front of Reggie’s stall, so they put a big bale of hay in front of the stall so he would hang his head out. So he is in all the wedding pictures.”
As a tribute to Reggie and the horses of the British Isles, Reggie has also become an official Breyer Horse, with his own limited edition model. The new version of Breyer's Show Jumping Warmblood mold, sculpted by Susan Carlton Sifton, is accurate down to each detail, including the ermine stripes on Reggie’s white pastern.
“So you can see, it looks just like him,” Cassie showed us, proudly holding the statuette. “Reggie on cross-country and here’s his little white on his foot and he has this little tiny white star on his face... And it looks just like Reggie with the dark mane, dark hair and the little bit of white.”
For the Segal’s, the immortalization of Reggie as a Breyer Horse is a fun and poignant reminder of all the joy that Reggie has brought them.
“We’re talking about this horse and there were so many years that he was active, but he hasn’t been active for a good 3 years,” Carl Segal mused while looking at the model of Reggie. “You kind of forget some of these past things, and then the gal calls from Breyer and sends us a letter and then you start thinking about it again… It’s kind of cool.”
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