For Katherine Bateson Chandler, Rutherford is a dream come true. The 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Krack C is the first horse anyone has ever bought her to ride and what a perfect choice he turned out to be. At this weekend’s 2008 Wellington Classic Dressage Challenge II, Bateson Chandler and Rutherford collected blue ribbons in both the FEI Prix St. Georges and FEI Intermediaire I competition.
“I’m so proud of my horse,” Bateson Chandler said. “He’s quite green. This is only the second time he did the Intermediaire test.” Rutherford is making quite an impressive showing at the FEI level with scores in the 70s. In Prix St. Georges competition he scored a 71.25.
The gelding is owned by Jane Forbes Clark, who bought him for Bateson Chandler a bit over a year ago. Up until the age of nine, he had little show experience. “I got him when he was almost nine and he’d never been to a horse show before. He was pretty green for his age. So, we’ve had to get a lot of horse show experience in a short period of time,” she said.
Despite his limited time in the competition ring, Bateson Chandler said Rutherford had a good start in his training with Vera Barisone. “Vera had him and decided he was ready to do a little something so she brought him to Robert Dover for a lesson. And Robert said, ‘It’s a really interesting horse.’ So, we wanted to try him, but Vera was undecided as he was special to her. He was sort of her baby. But then she agreed, but only if he would go to a really great home, which of course with Jane, he would. So we tried him and saw something in him,” Bateson Chandler said.
At that point, Forbes Clark decided to buy the horse so Bateson Chandler would have another ride in addition to her other current FEI mount, Rainier. “Jane kindly purchased him for me, which is the first horse anyone has ever bought for me. That was really exciting. It makes me cry talking about it.”
Bateson Chandler said getting Rutherford to the point that he can win at the FEI level hasn’t been easy. The gelding has definitely been a challenge for her. “He’s not been easy. It’s one of those situations where I’ve really had to believe in the horse to keep going. But we’ve built a relationship and I think finally he knows me and trusts me and I hope, loves me,” she said. “I like to take time and build a relationship with my horses and I’m hoping that he builds enough trust in me to be a really great Grand Prix horse.”
Bateson Chandler’s initial goal this season was simply to get Rutherford as much show experience as possible. However, now that he’s doing so well, she’s thinking that perhaps she can qualify him for the National Dressage Championships. “It would be amazing to have both horses in the championships – Rutherford and Rainier. I’d be thrilled.”
One thing is for sure, Bateson Chandler will be traveling this year with both horses, even if not to the championships in California. She’s already scheduled to take both horses to England this summer for some training with Carl Hester.