Will Coleman has his sights set on Blenheim in September after being awarded a Land Rover USEF Competition Grant. As he starts gearing OBOS O’Reilly up for the trip to Woodstock England, Will graciously set aside a bit of time to answer some of our questions. Thank you to Will for his time, and thank you for reading!
EN: How is OBOS O’Reilly doing after Rolex Kentucky?
Will: Oboe is doing great. He is looking super as we start gearing back up for the trip to Blenheim.
EN: What was your reaction to hearing you and Oboe had been awarded the Land Rover USEF Competition Grant?
Will: My first reaction was how much I appreciated USEF High Performance and Land Rover for sponsoring this grant and making trips like this possible. I had kind of expected the announcement for myself and Oboe to be awarded the grant, since the horse has had some really good runs in the recent past.
I was also incredibly thankful and happy for my owners. The Four Star Eventing Group is an incredible group of people and for them to get the chance to go and see their horse compete at one of the best three day events in the world is a great thing for them. I think a lot of the owners are planning on making the trip as well, so I am thrilled on their behalf.
EN: How will you prepare OBOS O’Reilly for Blenheim?
Will: OBOS O’Reilly will run the intermediate at Millbrook Horse Trials, then he will run the CIC3* in all likelihood at Richland Park Horse Trials. He is typically to date a very good cross country horse. So most of our preparation is in the little white box.
We will try to get a few marks off his dressage, which is why I spent this past weekend at Dressage at Lexington doing the Third and Fourth Level test. We are going to keep upping the ante on the expectations on the flat work and more than anything getting him in as much atmosphere as possible.
He does get quite hot in that type of atmosphere, and Blenheim will have no shortage of that. Our focus is mainly on that, and keeping him fit and well, but we are only going to give him a couple runs before Blenheim.
EN: What events are on your competition bucket list?
Will: The one that stands out is one I haven’t been to yet as a competitor: Badminton. I’ve said all along if I had the right horse for Badminton, that it is a must do. It is an event that if it is not the biggest event in our sport, it is certainly one of the three biggest and is the one missing on the ole resume and I would love to have a crack at it.
EN: Whats the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Will: Before I decided to go professional, I remember sitting down with my dad and telling him that this is what I wanted to do. I remember him saying this very clearly: “Make sure your doing this for the love of the horses and everything that comes with it.”
There is a lot of heartache, financial stress, and its not an easy life. But if you love the horses, and you love every day with them no matter what, and you’re doing it for the horses, you will be a happy person. I remember going to bed that night and thinking about it pretty hard, and I decided that in fact I did.
That’s the best advice I’ve received, because if you never lose sight of that, I believe you can have a very fulfilling life with these animals and in this sport. Katie, my wife, and I try to hold onto that advice every day
EN: If you weren’t riding professionally, what would you be doing?
Will: I like to write. I wouldn’t consider myself a writer by any stretch of the imagination, but I like sitting down and putting thoughts on paper. I’m not sure if I’d be a novelist or a journalist but I think something where I would have to formulate ideas and thoughts into sentences would be something I would be interested in. Its hard to look beyond horses in any way shape or form though.
EN: If you could give advice to an aspiring upper level eventer, what would it be?
Will: I would urge any person that wants to make a go at this, to plant themselves in a program with a Boyd, or a Phillip, or somebody like myself, learn the ins and outs of the sport and business, and stay there for as many years as you can afford to do so. The education gained from being around somebody, their business, their horsemanship, and their management is critical in your career development. You have to commit yourself to this sport because there is so much to learn.
EN: Who was your riding idol growing up?
Will: Mark Todd. I don’t know that there has been a more talented rider than Mark Todd ever. Growing up I wanted to look like him on a horse, I wanted to be able to cross over disciplines like he did. I marveled how he could get on seemingly any horse, any shape and size and make music with it.
Also even nowadays in show jumping, Michel Robert is a bit older now but I still think he is magic on a horse. If I ever come across a video of him riding a horse I take the time to watch. I think Michel is just a genius.
EN: If you could take a spin on any horse, past or present, who would it be?
Will: I think one of the more incredible horses we didn’t get to see as much as we all wish we could have, Pippa Funnell’s Primmore’s Pride. He was just an incredible animal, could move on the flat, an absolute beast cross country, and then show jumping you could have put them up to 1.40m and he could have popped around. He was a true three sport star. That would be a cool horse to take a spin on, and big enough for me.
EN: What has been your favorite cross country course to date?
Will: My favorites are probably the ones that scared the $#!t out of me the most before I went out on course. I did Burghley in 2003 when Wolfgang Feld was designing, and he built some serious courses.
I did it back on Fox In Flight an he jumped clear with four seconds over time on a 12 minute track. I’ve never seen anything so big and I had a magic round. It was also my first four star and after completing that I felt that if I could jump around that, I could jump around anything. I look back on that as a definite “Welcome to the NFL” moment.