Katherine Bateson-Chandler on “Chubby” Metallic

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Metallic clowning around for Katherine Bateson.
Metallic clowning around for Katherine Bateson.

WELLINGTON, Florida, Feb. 3, 2015–Metallic was probably “the most entertaining horse” Katherina Bateson ever took care of when Robert Dover took over the ride on the gray gelding to compete at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta to win team bronze for the United States.

“He was a horse with a massive personality, a real class clown who didn’t take very much seriously,” Katherine recalled of the KWPN gelding (Uniform x Nepal) that Anne Gribbons had trained from a youngster to ride to Pan American Games team silver in 1995. Because of a health issue, she turned over the ride to Robert for the Olympics the following year.

Metallic died at the age of 31 at Judy Bernier’s Rosewood Farm at Sorrento in central Florida where he had been retired for several years.

“It was tougher to accept than I expected,” Anne said of Metallic, “but Metallic sure had a long and satisfying life.”

She found him in Holland as a two-year-old at the farm where he was bred. He proved to be tough to break and, like many talented horses, had a mind of his own.

“He was extremely intelligent, proud and confident to the point of being arrogant,” she said. “Although not always ambitious to train, Metallic loved to show and he never let me down in a test. In the barn he was a clown who would do tricks such as stick his tongue out at you on command and at the shows he had his own fan club of people who were awed by his presence. He helped us earn two medals for the United States and was one of the few horses who has gone directly from the Pan American Games (in 1995) to the Olympics (1996) in one year.”

Katherine was an assistant to Robert Dover and was with Metallic 24/7 in the time the horse was with Robert, but she admits there was never any doubt he was Anne’s.

“I was lucky enough to take care of him,” Katherine said, first in Wellington, then New Jersey and finally in Atlanta for the Oympics. “I got all the benefits of his sunny personality. For me it was great fun.

“At first, I taught him to kiss when I lifted my finger to his nose. Then he had to take it to next level and poked out his tongue. In hindsight, it probably was not the best trick in the world, but I don’t think he ever did it during a test.”

She called him “Chubby” because he had problems keeping his weight down.

“He would eat anything,” she said, “he was a pig. He really liked bananas, but he just ate whatever you gave him. At least, you didn’t have to worry about him going off his food.

“He was probably the most entertaining horse I’ve ever taken care of.

“He knew exactly who he was. There was no question in his mind he was the best horse in world.”