The Fédération Equestre Internationale recently released an updated list of yellow card warnings for events held last month, and two yellow cards and a verbal warning were handed out at the Virginia Horse Trials, held May 26-29 in Lexington, Va.
Buck Davidson received a yellow card for “dangerous riding/out of control” in the CIC** on Be Mine, and Caroline Sullivan received one in the CCI* on The Bond Boy for “dangerous riding/continuing after three refusals.”
However, ground jury member Jane Tolley explained that Sullivan’s yellow card was recorded incorrectly. Sullivan did not have three refusals. In fact, she completed the course with 4 time penalties and finished 12th.
“[The] rider was witnessed as not being in control of her horse at a series of fences and was clearly having bitting problems. Given this situation, the ground jury issued a yellow card for dangerous riding,” she said.
Davidson explained a series of incidents that led to his infraction. He headed out on cross-country on the 10-year-old Rheinlander gelding (La Bonita—Landadel) owned by Lisa Darden, and he was startled to come upon Lainey Ashker’s Calling All Comets galloping at him without a rider.
Ashker had fallen off, and Calling All Comets ran back toward the warm-up area.
“All of a sudden Lainey’s horse was coming head on at me, so I had to try to get out of the way quick,” Davidson said. “ ‘Bemine’ has a little bit of a nappy tendency, so I had to grab the reins since [the other horse] had just come over the crest of the hill and didn’t see him coming. At that point I basically stopped him, then he spun around and followed the horse. I tried to get going, and as I went to get going, apparently they told me he ran through the ropes. Bemine kicked and got the rope caught in his shoe. He pulled the ropes down, and as I went to get going, another horse came flying out of the woods towards me.”
In the chaos of trying to calm the gelding down, former Olympian Jill Henneberg, who happened to be standing near the ropes, got tangled up and received some rope burn.
Once Bemine (which is pronounced like Bimini) was calm and untangled, Davidson jumped a few fences and retired after he’d gotten away from the start area.
“I got the yellow card because I pulled the ropes down,” said Davidson. “I asked what I should do in the future, and they said, ‘We thought you did a good job.’ I never hit the horse. I patted him to try and calm him down. I guess the rules are that I would have been better off to jump off, which would have endangered my horse and more people because at that point he was freaked out. I feel like the best place to control a horse is on it, and they completely agreed, but they’re sort of bound by the rules.
“Jill Henneberg was there and wrote a letter to the FEI, and she was the one who got rope burn behind her leg,” he continued. “She thought I’d done everything in my power to control the situation and make the situation as good as possible and that I didn’t deserve a yellow card for it. It’s just one of those things. He’s a bit fractious. We’ve been working [on it] all year. He had been really good, and he went out of the start box no problem.”
Davidson said he’s only received one other yellow card in his career. In 2011 when he was competing his Pan American Games mount Absolute Liberty at Richland Park (Mich.), he was jumped loose after a skinny out of water and steered her away from the crowd but ended up jumping the ropes.
“If you see me going towards the ropes now I’m going to jump off! Everybody watch out,” he said with a laugh.
In addition to the yellow cards, Missy Miller received a verbal warning with Limited Edition for “incorrect behavior/not reporting to [a] veterinary [check]” in the CIC**.
Calls to Sullivan and Miller were not returned by press time, but we’ll update the story if they respond.