Like most high-performance athletes, Chatwin has his post-competition recovery process down to a science. But his workout refuel meal of choice isn’t protein bars or even apples and carrots. He prefers pastries.
Those sugary treats are well earned considering the dark bay’s impressive competition record. In his 15 international starts, “Chat” has only ever finished outside the top five once, and six of those results involved a blue ribbon.
He and and his amateur rider Frankie Thieriot Stutes won the 2017 Galway Downs CIC*** (California) and earned fourth in the 2017 Bromont CCI*** (Canada) before Stutes gave birth to her second child a few months later. This spring the pair earned second place in the Galway Downs CIC*** and finished third in the advanced division at The Spring Event at Woodside (California).
Go behind the stall door with Chatwin:
• Chatwin is a 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Contendro I—Oktav, Oldtimer) who was bred by Johannes Koch in Germany. Clayton Fredericks imported him in 2013 before The Chatwin Group purchased him the following year.
• Stutes has nothing but praise for Chatwin now, but when she first saw him in Fredericks’ yard, she didn’t fall head over heels in love.
“I called [trainer] Andrea Pfeiffer and said, ‘I really like this horse because he jumps like [Fric Frac Berence], my old advanced horse, but I’m going to warn you, he’s really ugly, and he has the personality of Eeyore,’ ” she recalled.
• The Chatwin Group includes Stutes along with her cousin Zib Thieriot and family friend Eric Brandenburg.
“The Chatwin Group is a special thing to me,” Stutes said. “The Chatwin Group was me and my cousin, Zib, but we were still a little short on money to make it possible. [Brandenburg] knew nothing about horses, literally nothing. I called him and said, ‘I really want to get this horse. I think he’ll be a top horse,’ and he said, ‘No problem.’ ”
Brandenburg died in 2017, the same weekend that Chatwin won his first CIC*** at Galway Downs, and Stutes says the ownership remains The Chatwin Group in his honor.
• Chatwin’s love for donuts was discovered accidentally.
“He actually ate a whole box of pastries the first year I had him at a show off my tack truck right before cross-country—like a dozen,” said Stutes. “I came back, and he had frosting all over his face, and I’m just about to get on. That’s how we found out he loved them.”
But it’s not just donuts he enjoys. “He’ll do any form of donuts, chips and croissants. He really loves croissants,” she said.
• Chatwin has been a dependable partner for Stutes, so much so that she continued riding through nearly the entirety of both her pregnancies.
“I just know him very well, and I know if he’s up to shenanigans,” she said. “With my first he was so connected to [my son] Drake. He’d lick my stomach. He totally knew.”
• Once her oldest son, Drake Stutes, was born, Frankie noticed a major change in Chatwin’s personality as he bonded with him.
“Riding pregnant and being around little kids has totally changed him,” she said. “He’s gotten used to the kid chaos as he’s taken a back seat to all of this. In the barn it’s so chaotic, and he just doesn’t worry about it. Just being around the madness of the kids changed him a lot.”
The affection is mutual, and Drake enjoys spending time with his buddy.
“He’ll ride around in my saddle,” Frankie said. “When he was south with Tamie [Smith during Frankie’s second pregnancy], Drake would ask every day, ‘Momma where’s Chat? I need him.’ They just really love each other. It’s sweet.”
At this point in our interview Drake offered to “show me a trick.” Frankie put her helmet on his head and lifted him up to sit on Chatwin in the stall, to which Drake gave a loud, “Hiya!”
• Chatwin is a fiercely competitive horse, and he takes his show routine very seriously.
“He’s usually so personable all the time and loves attention, but once you start tacking him up, he goes in the back corner and doesn’t want to talk to anyone. At all. He’s so focused,” Frankie said.
• Once he’s finished with cross-country and his post-ride sweets, it’s nap time. “After cross-country he usually takes a crazy nap. Flat out,” Frankie said. “I’ve gotten multiple phone calls before of people being worried about him because he just looks like he’s dead.”
“He is a horse who just does everything all in,” she said. “He gets longed in a halter once a week. He goes rogue in it because he tries to pay attention every day, so he needs a day where he can just be him. He plays incredibly hard in his turnout. At home even after he gallops he’ll be running around like a wild banshee. I think mentally he has to go be a horse. Turnout is something I could never take away from him. I just have to look away because he needs to have that part of his day.”