Buck Davidson’s two-star mount Santa’s Keeper was euthanized Jan. 16 due to a rupture in his right quadriceps muscle and right transverse abdominal muscle, which resulted in internal hemorrhaging.
Davidson competed the 8-year-old Thoroughbred, co-owned by his longtime supporters Carl and Cassandra Segal, at the Ocala Horse Properties Winter I Horse Trials on Jan. 11 in Ocala, Fla., but after completing his show jumping round, the gelding began showing shortness in his right hind when he got back to the trailer.
“By the time he got back to the farm, a half-hour van ride, he was quite painful and quite lame,” said Davidson.
Davidson called his vet, Dr. Nathan Mitts of Peter & Smith Equine Hospital, who examined “Simon” and thought it was a pulled muscle.
By the next day, the area behind Simon’s flank had swollen and he showed discomfort. Multiple ultrasounds and X-rays throughout the week showed no fractures, but Simon grew increasingly uncomfortable until he wasn’t weight-bearing.
“By [Jan. 16], it was really, really big and Simon wasn’t putting any weight on it,” said Davidson. “It just progressively got worse and we did everything we could. He seemed happy the whole time. I shut the barn down [this week] and tried to let him rest as best he could and hope that he would lay down.”
After consultations from several top vets, including former U.S. Eventing Team vet Brendan Furlong, the decision was made to euthanize Simon.
“We had the best of the best working on him and nobody had ever seen anything like this,” said Davidson. “It was very clear to me today that it wasn’t going to come around.”
An autopsy was performed the same day and it was found that due to the severity of the muscle injuries and the internal hemorrhaging and the inevitable onset of laminitis on the support limb, the injury was too much to overcome.
“I’ve been around horses my whole life,” said Davidson. “I love the horses and I love Simon. He was the sweetest, most beautiful, easy horse. He just aimed to please. Nathan said to me when he called, ‘That was one cool horse, Buck. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done because I’ve never seen a horse that wanted to live like that.’”
Davidson found Simon through a friend as a 3-year-old off the track. He brought him through the levels, finishing second in both the Ocala CCI** (Fla.) and the Bromont CCI** (Quebec) last year and completing The Dutta Corp Fair Hill International CCI** (Md.).
“From the first time I ever rode him he was dead quiet, dead easy,” Davidson remembered. “The Segals have done so much for me and my career and my life, when I was thinking of Christmas presents, I thought, ‘This horse is going to be a star,’ so I gave them Simon. We owned him together. I had big dreams. It’s super-sad, but we enjoyed him until the end.”