Local Equestrian Held On Marijuana Charge Bruce Davidson Sr., One Of The World's Top Competitors, Was Arrested In A New Zealand Airport.

Posted: December 12, 1995

Bruce Davidson of Unionville, Pa., one of the world's top equestrian competitors, was arrested in Auckland, New Zealand, yesterday and charged with possession of marijuana.

A former Olympic gold and silver medalist, Davidson, 55, was arrested after sniffer dogs used by the New Zealand customs department singled him out at Auckland International Airport.

His son, Bruce Davidson Jr., also an equestrian, who answered the phone at Davidson's Unionville home last night, said his father was in New Zealand to compete in an equestrian event. He said his family would have no comment on the arrest.

News of the arrest spread quickly to the small, elite Pennsylvania equestrian community. One local resident described it as "amazing."

"This will be a devastating thing for the community. This is really a devastating blow. It will rock the community," said the resident, who asked not to be identified.

Marty Bauman, director of public relations for the United States Equestrian Team, said the only information he had was from news reports.

"At this point, we don't have all the facts, and we feel it would be premature to make a statement," Bauman said.

Asked if similar arrests had occurred in the team's history, he said, "Not to my knowledge."

The New Zealand three-day event Davidson is participating in is the final event on the annual three-day event circuit, Bauman said. Davidson is the top- ranked rider in the Land Rover World Rider Rankings, the rankings for three-day event riders, and had flown to New Zealand to ensure his top ranking for the year, Bauman said.

He was the world's top-ranked three-day event rider in 1993.

Last spring, Davidson became the first American to win the Badminton Horse Trials in England, the world's most coveted three-day event. He also earned an individual gold medal and a team silver medal at this year's Pan-American Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Davidson appeared in the Otahuhu District Court and was charged. He was not required to lodge a plea. He was released on bail and required to reappear in court next week.

A court spokesman said he didn't know how much marijuana Davidson was charged with possessing.

He was scheduled to compete in Auckland over the coming weekend.

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