Remembering Collection Pass: How Kate Met Cole

Kate Chadderton (AUS) and Collection Pass. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Australian rider Kate Chadderton reported on social media Saturday that her longtime upper-level partner, Thoroughbred gelding Collection Pass, passed away at the age of 21. “Cole” was one of the first horses Kate partnered with in the U.S. upon arriving from Australia.

Kate posted the following on her Facebook page:

Sad to say Collection Pass has passed away. He was one of the kindest horses I’ve had the pleasure of training. Relatively small (15.3hh) he had the heart of a champion which carried thru seasons of advanced, Kentucky, a Nations Cups and even mini Prix show jumping. The only friend he didn’t make was friends with the dressage arena..! His jumping ability tho enabled us to win a bit thru to intermediate and gave us some 4 Star ribbons.

Cole was pretty well the first horse I started riding when I moved to America. Local huntsman, Robert Taylor, told me about a horse down the road who may or may not be broken in but might be worth looking at. So off I went to try him. He belonged to none other than Regis Dvorsky! Driving down Rege’s driveway it became very clear he had a beautiful farm! And a menagerie of well cared for and happy animals. What he DIDN’T have tho was a riding arena! Remembering at this point it was unclear whether or not this horse was broken in, so I was hoping to try in a somewhat confined area! Regardless we pressed on. The horse seemed very compliant so I thought I’d jump on and see what happened. Immediately it was clear that this horse was very well trained and really wanted to please his rider. Great! Now, Rege, what do you have to jump?! The answer was a dog crate! He jumped it the first time, which I saw as a great sign, so home Cole came with me. And the rest is history!

After his career with me, he went on to teach Grace Gaynor thru the 2 Star level with great success Rege was Cole’s biggest and most loyal supporter thru thick and thin, for which we are all grateful.

From Quebec to Wellington to California to Michigan and everywhere in between, it was a true honour to be partnered with an incredible athlete and soul.

Pretty sure he’ll be galloping (slooooowwwwwlllyyyy) around heaven with Sunny and Digger overseeing his safety!

In Cole’s honor, we thought it would be the best way to remember him by republishing this blog Kate graciously provided for us ahead of her then-CCI4* debut with the OTTB gelding. Thanks for the memories, Cole, and we’re sending our thoughts and well-wishes to Kate and her team.

The following article was originally published in April 2014.

Kate Chadderton and Collection Pass. Photo by Jenni Autry.

From Kate:

Rolex is fast approaching, and I thought I would share the story of how I came across my 2014 entry, Collection Pass. It was actually the brilliant idea of Robert Taylor of TaylorMade farm in Damascus, Md., that I go and see a horse down the road. I was fairly new to the U.S., and Robert was fairly unclear on the details of the horse: He was either a good prospect, had done some eventing, or some fox hunting or something. He had actually mentioned him to me several months earlier, but at that point the owner was not ready to part with him.

The horse sounded intriguing enough, so I waited for Robert to give me the OK to contact the owners. That call came late one Halloween afternoon; as I had plans for the evening, I almost did not go to see the horse. As with any professional rider, the lure of seeing a new horse always wins out. Robert had told me that I would have to take my own tack, as his owners (Rege Dvorsky and Jeanne Leone) were not riders and would not have anything I could use. So it was with very low expectations (and several apologetic messages to the social side of my evening) that I arrived to see this horse that “may or may not have evented.”

Happily, the horse I found was a nice type and seemed very well taken care of, so I chucked my saddle and bridle on and looked for a place to try him. When I asked Rege where the best place to ride was, he indicated toward some trails. It seemed like a good idea, so I pointed Cole’s nose down one and cantered. He seemed to do that alright, so I turned around and cantered back. He seemed to do that alright too! So we raided Rege’s garage for something to jump, and all I could find were pet carriers . So I set them up on the trail. Without batting an eyelid Cole jumped them both ways. Good nature, good type, good canter, I was sold!

Rege kindly agreed to my suggestion of a week’s trial to see how he was in an actual ring, which would also give me a chance to look up his record and get some history on him. During this week, I came to know Rege and Jeanne, and they made the decision to take him off the market and remain as the owners. Also during that week, I learned a lot more about Cole’s history. He had in fact evented. He was sourced by Kelley Williams of A Bit Better Farm in Maryland, who initially trained and evented him. She’s since told me he was very nearly sold as a hunter in Canada, but that fell through — thank goodness! Kelley then sold him to Rege for local event rider and owner of A Deck Above Farm, Kristin Parris.

As a race horse, he was not particularly successful, being given the sack after only six starts. When looking closely at his record it’s easy to see why. In five of the six starts, he was last. In his sixth start, he was second last, only beating home a horse that broke down halfway around.

Cole is your quintessential American Thoroughbred in that he’s very athletic, surefooted and, most importantly, comes to work every day giving his 110 percent effort. Where he differs from other Thoroughbreds, though, is his laid-back nature. On Sunday, he can run around an Advanced, and on Monday he can go trail riding with a 10-year-old kid (which he has done!). He doesn’t understand or think that he is particularly good; he is certainly not one of those bulletproof horses. For me this has taken some getting used to, as I have always ridden very bold and gregarious horses; Cole is certainly not gregarious! In the time I have known him now, I learnt that while he is honest and brave, I do have to hold his hand, and he generally will take the lead from me.

If he knew that he was an Advanced horse about to take on a four-star, he would probably go to the corner of his stall and cry, but I think the same would happen if we told him he was at training level and going to a training three-day! I strongly believe he thinks he’s still at Novice level, so we keep telling him he’s just going to a Novice championship. “Don’t worry, boy. The jumps won’t be any bigger than what your used to! There will just be more people watching!” If he were a guy, he would be a valuable player on the football team, but not the star, and he would always be up for a drink at the pub!

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