So I have decided to do a brief bio of the 4 dressage riders that are representing the United States at the WEG this year. For those of you who don’t care, don’t worry, there are only 4 riders and I will make sure to do plenty of posts in between about my handsome pony. I wanted to start with Katherine Bateson-Chandler because she is the rider that I don’t think a lot of people know about.
I think all of us that rode as teenagers dreamed of working for a famous rider. My all-star dream was Carol Lavell. What sets Katherine Bateson apart from the rest of us is the fact that she did something about it. She wanted to ride with Robert Dover, so she went to his barn. When no one was there she left her name. When no one called her she kept going back and going back until one day they were in a pinch and needed someone to do stalls on weekends. At 16 years old she found herself working for one of the top riders in the world and one step closer to her dream.
Eventually she worked her way up to being Dover’s personal groom. She stood on the sidelines of every major dressage competition in the world dreaming and learning all she could. She refined her eye under the tutelage of Dover and was able to help him warm up at the competitions. As often happens, Bateson got so good behind the scenes that the chances for her to reach her own showing potential were few and far between. After making her way all the way up to assistant trainer at Dover’s (which in itself is amazing. How many people do you know can work for the same person for over a decade?) she was given the opportunity to start showing herself when Robert Dover retired from competition. She of course has taken off like a shot for the top. In the past 5 years she has really made a name for herself.
At only 34 years old she has been selected to represent the US in the WEGs, even more impressive because she was actually born over in Jolly Old England. What makes this WEG dream even more special is the fact that Bateson just started riding her mount, Nartan, back in May. As in May 2010. As in just a few weeks ago! Nartan was competing over in the Netherlands with Jeanette Haazen when Jane Clark purchased her specifically as a mount for Bateson for this years WEGs. Katherine headed over to Belgium to work with Jeanette and learn Nartan as best she could in such a short time. As everyone knows, getting to know a horse takes time so it is amazing how far they have come already!
I have a feeling that this pair is one that we will be hearing a lot about in the future. I didn’t get to see many rides at the selection trials, but Bateson’s was one I wanted to watch, and I am glad I did. She is a beautiful rider. Some of the mistakes were miscommunications, which is good, because if they can clear that up they can really up their score at WEGs!