By Nancy Jaffer
August 30, 2017
When the applause ends, after the crowds go home, what’s next for a top horse who has retired from eventing?
In the case of Ballynoe Castle RM, better known as Reggie, that question can be answered with one word: Paradise.
The lucky 17-year-old Irish Sport Horse, who was saluted in an emotional retirement ceremony at the Rolex Kentucky 4-star in April, is now comfortably ensconced with his owners, Cassie and Carl Segal, at their picturesque 49-acre Apple Hill Farm in Pottersville.
Reggie, the U.S. Eventing Association’s all-time point earner, deserves his rest. His career, which began with Buck Davidson in 2006, ended last year. Now that’s all behind the sturdy son of Ramiro B. He is not only living a life of leisure in scenic surroundings, it’s a life of pampering as well.
Groomed to a glow every day, Reggie’s bay coat is as shiny as it was when he competed at the biggest three-day events, including the Burghley, Badminton and Rolex 4-stars, as well as two World Equestrian Games. When he’s not enjoying the pasture with its panoramic views; a cornfield, the handsome barn and the Segals’ house, Reggie appreciates variation to his days by hacking on the farm and along the nearby trails under the guidance of his caregiver, Jessica Kiener, who is married to the farm’s property manager, Matt Kiener.
Jess, who used to work in the barn at Somerset County’s Lord Stirling Stable in Basking Ridge, has been a competitive eventer herself, training with Buck. Remember her mount, the Segals’ My Boy Bobby, who is also in retirement at Apple Hill?
Jess won the American Eventing Championships at Intermediate level with him, having started him at training level. A fond memory for the Segals and Jess is the time she won Groton House and led the victory gallop with, as Carl puts it, “all the red coats” of U.S. team veterans following behind her.
A typical day in retirement begins for Reggie at 7 a.m., when he gets three-quarters of a scoop of Ultium to supplement his grass diet, which also includes a little hay at supper time.
Living outdoors suits Reggie, who is turned out with Barney, a spotted pony Jess said is “obsessed” with the pasturemate who towers over him. If the weather is hot, Reggie and Barney can escape the heat in what the Segals call a shed, but which really is part of the barn, with rubber blocks on the floor and automatic insect sprayers to keep the bugs away.
The Segals bought Apple Hill because they wanted some land.
“We had never heard of the sport of eventing. We didn’t know from horses. We thought we’d get a couple of horses and do trail riding,” Cassie said. So much for that.
As we chatted after Reggie’s grooming session, the talk naturally turned to recollections about this memorable horse.
“The first time we saw him was at Buck’s farm,” said Cassie, who noted Reggie was purchased sight unseen through Patricia Nicholson in Ireland.
“She called Buck and said, `I’ve got this really special horse I think you’re going to like.’ Buck talked to us and we said, `Okay, we’ll give it a try.’”
Although Reggie had competed up to the preliminary level in Ireland. Buck had never ridden him before the sale.
When the Segals were introduced to Reggie at Buck’s barn, there were no gasps of awe, no predictions of fame.
“He looked like all the other horses Buck has,” Cassie acknowledged, recalling her first impression of the gelding who would become the star of their stable.
“I don’t think there was anything really special that stood out. He was just a nice event horse. We like the Irish horses a lot.”
Carl remembered, “We saw him compete at Plantation for the first time in 2006 at prelim. He won. There are plenty of horses at prelim who fizzle out and can’t do intermediate or advanced. We didn’t have any expectations of him being an advanced horse.”
So the Segals were just happy at the beginning that he “was beautiful and his disposition was good.” He was also fond of people.
“He’s just the sweetest,” said Cass, who rode him once and called the experience “thrilling.”
Reggie was Buck’s go-to horse, a friend as well as a mount. Buck misses him.
“When Jess and I went down to pick him up at Chesterland, Buck made sure he wasn’t there,” said Cass, noting Buck already has visited Reggie at Apple Hill.
After Reggie’s retirement ceremony at Rolex, Buck and I talked about the horse, who had made did his final appearance in the dressage arena for the test ride at the 4-star with longtime groom Kathleen Blauth-Murray aboard.
“We’re so proud of the horse, but more, we’re proud of the family and the team that has been behind him since day one,” said Buck.
“We’re as close as can be and we’re all brought together because of Reggie. He loves being part of the action. What a joy to have (him) in the barn for the last 11 years. There’s probably more talented horses out there than Reggie but there will never be another winner like him.
“My life is owed to him. It was a great career and I’m thankful I was actually able to be the one who steered him around. It was a joy every single day.”