Eventers are all too familiar with riding the highs and lows that accompany our sport of choice. Kate Chadderton is certainly no stranger, having experienced many a rough patch during her 2014 season, but she’s got her (fully healed) jaw squared and is determined to make the most out of the upcoming year.
“It was a bit hard to get continuity right from the start,” Kate said. “Since I broke my jaw in the spring, going into Rolex with (Collection Pass), I didn’t jump a whole lot as I still had my screws in and didn’t want to re-injure it and not be able to eat properly for three months!”
Kate and Rege Dvorsky’s Collection Pass fell victim to the Rolex cross country course in April, and when they parted ways, “Cole” took off running. “He’s the kind of horse where he thinks that I know everything, and when he ran off, I think he was worried because there were all of these people that he didn’t know.
“My roommate, who was working with the equine ambulance, was actually the one who caught him. So funny that he ended up finding someone he knew out of that crowd of people! I ended up taking him out again at Advanced the next weekend to make sure his confidence wasn’t ruined, which is when he ended up getting injured.”
Collection Pass Back in Action
Cole sliced into his right front fetlock joint on cross country at MCTA that weekend, requiring surgery to repair the damage. And, unfortunately, Kate’s string of bad luck continued after that, as her other Advanced mount, The Civil Liberty Syndicate’s VS McCuan Civil Liberty, fractured his stifle in a paddock accident the same weekend, requiring stall rest for the remainder of the summer.
“I thought maybe I’d get Liberty back in time for Fair hill, but I decided to save him and not push him. He’s too nice of a horse to push, so we’ve brought him back around slowly,” Kate said.
With the season now behind her, Kate is looking ahead to 2015. “I’m going to leave a bit earlier to head south,” she said. “I usually go straight to Aiken, but this year I’m going to go to Ocala and compete at the Global Dressage Festival with Cole, Liberty and (Buckharo).
“That’s where we really need the most work, the dressage. I think going somewhere where there’s some atmosphere will be great,” Kate said. “Also, I find myself pretty inspired by the people I’m around, so if I put myself around some dressage people, I can only get better!”
From Ocala, Kate will then spend the remainder of her winter in Ocala, competing on the Pine Top circuit before targeting the big events in the spring and summer.
Buckharo Steps Up
“With Cole, if he feels the way he did before he got injured, I absolutely would love to take him back to Rolex,” Kate said. “Right now I’m planning to do Carolina International, The Fork and possibly Red Hills if he needs it, and if those go swimmingly, then I’ll take him to Rolex. But if not, I will take him to Bromont with Liberty and Bucky.”
The silver lining of Kate’s rough and tumble summer was Beth Sokohl’s Buckharo, another OTTB in her barn who really got the chance to step up and focus on going Advanced with his stablemates sidelined. “Bucky was able to get a few more Advanced runs in and proved that he was capable of much more than we originally expected. So we’ll gear up this year to have a go at Bromont with him,” Kate said.
Kate is ready to get the new season underway, and considering her run of misfortune this year, we can’t say we blame her. She’s keeping a positive attitude and counting her blessings along the way. “I’ve got three Advanced horses and wonderful owners and supporters behind me every step of the way,” Kate said. “Right now, they’re all happy and healthy. If that’s a bad year for me, I think I can handle that.”
Growing Up in Australia
It’s been six years now since Kate made the big move from Australia to the U.S., where she ultimately based her program in Maryland. She grew up in a small town in Queensland, and, like many Australian riders, Kate had horses from a young age who lived in her backyard rather than at a boarding facility. “I’m from around an hour away from where Dom Schramm was, so we kind of grew up in the same area,” she said.
“I really had no idea the differences between how we ride in Australia versus other places. I grew up riding in a stock saddle in the back country, and I had to either jump in the stock saddle or bareback. I got such bad rubs and got left behind so often in the stock saddle that most of the time I ended up going bareback. Everyone had a horse in their backyard. After school, we’d go and ride the ponies and chase kangaroos.
“My family was very supportive, even if they couldn’t do it financially, and eventually they told me that I needed to start paying for the horses myself, so I started selling the ponies I had, and that’s kind of how I got a taste of training and selling horses. From the time I was 12, I had this dream of representing my country at a championship.
“I had quite a lot going on, and was lucky enough to have horses that took me through Advanced at 18 or 19. I started thinking about moving, and my father is actually English, and I had dual citizenship between Australia and England, so it would have been so much easier to move to England to pursue the eventing further.”
Making the Move to the U.S.
A longtime friend and mentor for Kate, Boyd Martin, suggested that Kate consider moving to the United States. “I’d retired a couple of my good horses in Australia and was kind of at a point where it was a good time to do it,” she said. “Boyd was riding at Rolex that year, and my old trainer, Heath Ryan, was also there.
“I landed in Kentucky, and within 45 minutes I think I knew I wanted to move. Of course, landing in Lexington is always a good place to start, but after coming here and meeting the people, I just fell in love with the country.”
Kate took her time to check out the lay of the land, traveling through Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, to name just a few. Upon returning to Australia, she set about making plans to sell what she needed to and move to the U.S. “It would have cut out a lot of paperwork to just move to England, but once you come to the U.S., it’s just kind of hard to beat.”
Kate made her big move in 2008. “When I moved, I thought that I’d kind of be picking up where I left off, but I ended up starting over more, which I think was good. I had some very good horses that would keep jumping for me before, but there were definitely areas of my riding that needed work. I’m definitely a better rider now than when I moved here.
“It’s funny, because I thought I’d eventually ‘graduate’ from the off-track horses and have a barn full of fancy Irish horses, but I’ve got three ex-racehorse Advanced horses, and I feel now that I just do better with them. They’re just the best horses with the best owners I could ask for.”
We wish Kate all the best for the 2015 season (with her barn full of upper-level off-track Thoroughbreds!). Go Eventing.