“I love it when a plan comes together” is the phrase that could sum up the 2022 season for Lady Chatterley and Leslie Law. Although, in this case, comparing the bay mare and her British Olympic gold medalist rider to the A-Team also refers to the fact that they successfully moved up to the Advanced level and earned the title of Bates Mare of the Year on the USEA Leaderboard. Lady Chatterley, who's owned by Lesley Grant-Law and Stephen and Jackie Brown, was also the Bates Mare of the Year in 2020 and second in 2021.
Coming off winning the Intermediate championship at the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC), presented by Nutrena Feeds, in 2021, Lady Chatterley began 2022 by winning the Intermediate at the Rocking Horse Winter I Horse Trials (Altoona, Florida) in January. Then, in February, she moved up to Advanced at Rocking Horse and finished second out of 16, adding just 2.8 time penalties on cross-country; the fastest round in their division, for a finishing score of 34.9.
It was at the same event two years earlier that Law fell from the mare on cross-country while in the lead after dressage and show jumping. The trajectory switched, and she returned to Intermediate for four more wins at the level and Mare of the Year honors in 2020.
Following the AEC title at Intermediate in 2021, Law moved the mare up to CCI4*-S that fall.
“That was very much on our calendar to go and do the Intermediate championships at the AEC, with the view then that if she ran well there, we would then upgrade her,” he said.
Lady Chatterley finished fifth in her first CCI4*-S at Stable View Oktoberfest (Aiken, South Carolina), then she won the CCI4*-S at The Event at TerraNova (Myakka City, Florida).
“For her to win her second go at a four-short was very rewarding,” Law said.
So, the team made a plan for Lady Chatterley to attempt a CCI4*-L in 2022. That came at the Tryon International (Mill Spring, North Carolina) in May, where they added just 1.6 time penalties on cross-country for a score of 31.0 to finish third out of 30.
“I definitely came away from there with a big smile on my face that this is looking really bright for the future,” Law said.
Lady Chatterley and Law won the CCI4*-S at the 2022 Stable View Oktoberfest to finish their season.
“We pretty much achieved what we set out to,” Law said. “These last two years really cemented her at the levels.”
Success at Advanced and four-star has come quicker for Lady Chatterley, a 12-year-old Holsteiner mare (Connor x Lucy), than it did at Intermediate and three-star.
“We stayed at the Intermediate level and made sure she got very confident at that level and ticked the boxes,” Law said. “When you move up to the next level, you always wonder what it’s going to be, but I would say she went from Intermediate to Advanced and stepped up better and stronger than she stepped up from one level to the others earlier on.”
Law described the mare as “definitely a girl” and chuckled after uttering that phrase.
“She certainly has her opinions,” he said with a laugh. “And she’s not shy in expressing them. Like all girls that have got strong characters and opinions, they’re usually very, very good at what they do. She’s great to be around, and I thoroughly enjoy her character and opinions. We have a great rapport, and I love her to bits.”
Lady Chatterley's strengths cover all three eventing phases. In seven events in 2022, her average dressage score was 29.1. She had zero jumping penalties on cross-country and went double-clear in show jumping in five of seven events.
“She’s always been extremely good with the technical questions,” Law said. “We’ve had to take our time and make sure she was confident with the big, bolder ditch-type fences. Being a mare, we just had to make sure we always ticked the boxes before we went to the next step. The thing we’re most proud of with her is that we’ve produced a horse now that is hopefully going to be consistently strong at the upper levels.”
Law said that Lady Chatterley will have a later start competing in 2023.
“She did pick up a little tiny injury at the end of last year, so we’re going to have to start out a little bit later this year,” he said. “We’re probably going to be able to get back out late spring or early summer. We’ll just have to wait and see when we come back out how strong and how good she’s feeling. We’re just better off being a little bit patient bringing her out and hopefully having a successful second half of the year.”
Depending on how she returns, the goal for 2023 is another CCI4*-L or the CCI5*-L at the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill.
Looking back on Lady Chatterley's journey, Law told a story about how the mare came, or almost didn’t come, into the lives of him, his wife, and the Browns when they were searching for horses in the Netherlands in 2016.
“It was actually quite late when we got to the place where we were trying her, and it was getting dark,” he recalled. “So, the trial was quite short. We got back in the car afterwards, and I was like, ‘I’m not sure about that.’ And Lesley was like, ‘No, she gave me a great feel, and I loved her spiciness and attitude. I think that’s a great horse.’”
Lady Chatterley has proven Grant-Law’s assessment to be correct as her team now sets their sights on eventing’s highest level.
If you’re like most riders you’ve probably heard someone say something like, “Your last mistake is your best teacher,” or “if you’re doing everything right you’re doing something wrong because you’re in your comfort zone.” While I agree whole-heartedly with these sentiments, I actually prefer, “Equestrians don’t make mistakes. Mistakes make equestrians.” They make us bolder, braver, and brighter; but only when we develop a positive relationship with our mistakes and respond to them in productive ways.
Up-and-coming eventing athlete Tommy Greengard of Malibu, California, was named the recipient of the United States Equestrian Team (USET) Foundation’s Amanda Pirie Warrington Grant for 2024. A current competitor on the U.S. Equestrian Federation's (USEF) Eventing Emerging Program List, Greengard has aspirations of representing the United States internationally.
Bethany Hutchins-Kristen headed into 2023 with hopes of earning the SmartPak USEA Stallion of the Year award for a second year in a row on her homebred Geluk HVF, and after a stellar season, including a top-10 finish at the TerraNova CCI2*-L (Myakka City, Florida), she took home the top prize with an 18-point lead.
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