Katherine Bateson-Chandler & Wellnetta Into Top 10 in USA
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Feb. 5, 2014–Katherine Bateson-Chandler and Wellnetta have made it in to the top 10 in the United States after the international debut for the pair and the first Big Tour performance by the rider in almost two years.
Katherine is competing Wellnetta in the Global Dressage Festival to seek a place on the American team at the World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France in August.
“Her temperament is unbelievable,” Katherine said of the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare she began riding six months ago. “I’ve never had a horse with this much of a work ethic. She’s like nothing I’ve ever ridden. You come out of the ring and literally she could do five more tests.”
Wellnetta (Labo x Rubiquil) was trained and ridden by Lauren van Lierens and was a rising star for Holland when bought last summer by Jane Forbes Clark, a longtime backer of top dressage, jumpers and driving horses, for Katherine to compete.
The horse was delivered to Katherine at the training center of Great Britain’s Olympic gold medalist Carl Hester in August.
Wellnetta joins Alcazar, the KWPN gelding that Jane bought two years ago. The horse is now nine years old and ready for the Grand Prix.
When Katherina became the trainer and compettion rider for Jane Clark’s horses eight years ago, she had already ridden some of the horses that Robert Dover had taken to the Olympics when she was his assistant.
On Nartan in 2010 she made the U.S. team at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky and the horse was retired two years later.
With Wellnetta and Alcazar she has adopted different approaches in developing a relationship.
“These two horses are so different I can’t even compare them,” she said. “Both give me an amazing feeling. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. They are so different in their personalities and strengths and weaknesses.”
Wellnetta came from training by a large, strong male rider who, Katherine said, “did an amazing job.”
Considering the differences with the gelding, Wellnetta has “been a real trooper. I’m not a power rider so it was an adjustment for both us.
“It definitely took time,” she said. “Thank God I had Carl (Hester) there to hold my hand. Carl has a calm temperament. I’m a bit intense. He was a good defuser for me.
“Her biggest strength is her character. She has three good gaits and no big weakness. She’s not the most extravagant mover, but she goes into the ring and shows herself off.
“Her honesty is really mind blowing.
“She had a good life because she is a friendly horse. We turned down looking at some horses because they came from certain people.
“It’s very important for the horse to come from a happy home, to be a happy horse.
“Nettie gives me a lot of confidence. She’s a very hot horse–that’s my kind of ride. There is lots of work to be done, lots of things we need to improve. But I give her huge credit for how quickly she’s come along.”
Katherine has been riding long enough to keep in perspective her goals–“it’s a daily process.”
The first was to get the certificate of capability–achieve the minimum requirement–for the WEG to be held in Normandy in August. Then to be among the top 15 to qualify for the selection trials in Gladstone, New Jersey in June.
After her first CDI that counts for Gladstone, she was ranked eighth.
“I’m the luckiest person there is,” she said. “I get to train with a couple of Olympic medalists–Carl Hester and Debbie McDonald. I have amazing horses to ride and train. I’m living everybody’s dream. It comes with its own pressure, but Jane understands that. As long as she knows your heart’s in the right place and the horses needs are first and foremost and you’re trying your best she’s happy.”