Will’s life with horses began when he was six years old, after his family moved to a farm in Charlottesville, VA. Not long after the move, a Shetland pony arrived in the back of a pick-up truck, and the seeds of a future career in horses were planted. The pony deserves credit for fostering Will’s competitive spirit and a certain comfort with hitting the deck. However, Will really learned to ride in the hunt fields of the Virginia Piedmont and in the show jumping ring, all under the watchful eyes of his father, an avid fox hunter and horseman.
An interest in eventing naturally followed, and after clinicing with eventing greats Karen and David O’Connor, Will began taking lessons with the two Olympic veterans regularly. After graduating high school in 2001 from Woodberry Forest School, Will began a three-year apprenticeship with the O’Connors where David, in particular, took Will under his wing as he progressed from the ranks of Young Rider to international four-star competitor.
In 2001, Will was gold medalist at the North American Young Rider’s Championship at just 18 years of age. Moving up to three-star level the next year, he finished 8th on Second Hope at Fair Hill International CCI3*, earning his first spot on the USEF’s training list that winter. In 2003, Will got the ride on Fox-In-Flight, also known as “Cheddar” in his home stable. The partnership quickly flourished and in their virgin competition abroad they became the first, and to date only, US combination to win the Bramham CCI3* Under-25 Championships in the UK.
That fall, Will and “Cheddar” returned to England to contest their first four-star, and put in a clean round across the world’s biggest cross-country course to finish 26th out of a field of 100+. Once again, Will was listed as a contender for a team spot on the 2004 Athens team, at just 20 years old. But good fortune would not be in the cards for him, as Fox-In-Flight injured himself right before Rolex Kentucky in the spring of 2004, sidelining that Olympic dream for the time being. However, Will did compete at Rolex with Second Hope, and in his first attempt at America’s four-star, he earned the honor of top placed young rider. Will had accomplished an incredible amount before he had even turned twenty-one years of age.
Will admits that he was far from ready to turn professional at that time in his equestrian career. Will says, “ At Rolex 2004, I was twenty years old and it was my second four star ever. I was inexperienced, to say the least, but I had a wonderful ride around the cross-country, and finished as the highest placed young rider, making the entire week an incredibly positive experience. However, I was very much still learning how to ride, and most of my focus was on studying technique and developing the skills to compete at the four-star level under the tutelage of David O’Connor. Training and developing the horses themselves to four-star level was still largely a mystery to me, despite having done both Burghley and Rolex before I was 21. I realized that I knew very little and, now looking back, it was after that Rolex in 2004 that a new chapter in my riding life began”.
In 2005, Will began an education of a different sort, both in horses and in life. In the fall of that year, Will enrolled at the University of Virginia. He and his family decided to sell “Cheddar,” as well as another Advanced horse “Ratzi,” leaving Will with a couple young horses and Second Hope. School took away some of the opportunities to compete, and so it made sense to take advantage of the time not spent traveling to events to focus on riding and training in its purest sense. Will studied dressage with Gerd Reuter, who had a profound impact on his flat riding. He also spent some time doing pure show jumping, including stints riding for world-famous Olympian Anne Kursinski, as well as the well-known Dutch horse-dealer and trainer Wiljan Laraakers. Wiljan, on multiple occasions, has even given Will several catch-rides in CSI1* and 2*’s in Holland, and Will still occasionally goes to Holland during the off-season to ride and show with Wiljan.
Will is a professional in every sense of the word, and his education and the attention to detail he exhibits in trying to develop himself into a well-rounded horseman seems to be paying dividends. After finishing fourth at the Rolex CCI4* in the spring of 2012, Will finally earned the honor of representing his country at the London Olympics. This experience fulfilled a life long dream, and left Will eager to help his country win medals in the years to come. While training and competing horses are his passion and priority, he teaches lessons almost every day and clinics around the country. In his mind, Will has not even scratched the surface of what he hopes to accomplish in this wonderful sport, but seems well on his way towards achieving his lofty goals.
Will is currently enjoying running Will Coleman Equestrian with help from his new wife Katie Coleman. With Katie by his side the business is better than ever, and the future is very exciting for them both.
- 2015 Fair Hill International CCI2* 1st – Tight Lines
- 2015 Blenheim CCI3* 11th – OBOS O’Reilly
- 2015 Bromont CCI1* 2nd – Butch Cassidy
- 2015 Rolex Kentucky CCI4* 6th Place Overall and USEF National Reserve Champion, Best Turned Out, Best Conditioned, and Land Rover Best Ride of the Day – OBOS O’Reilly
- 2014 USEF NATIONAL LIST – Conair and OBOS O’Reilly
- 2013 Fair Hill CCI3* 3rd – Conair
- 2013 USEF WORLD CLASS LIST – OBOS O’Reilly
- 2013 Bromont CCI3* 1st – OBOS O’Reilly
- 2013 Fair Hill International CIC3* 1st – OBOS O’Reilly
- 2012 Virginia CCI1* 1st – McLovin
- 2012 Olympic Games CCI4* 37th – Twizzel
- 2012 USEF Olympic Games Short List
- 2012 Rolex Kentucky CCI4* 4th – Twizzel
- 2012 Bromont CCI2* 3rd – Zipp
- 2011 USEF High Performance B-List – Twizzel
- 2011 Fair Hill CCI3* 4th – Twizzel
- 2011 Cosequin Stuart CIC2* 1st – Vancover
- 2011 Barbury International CIC3* 7th – Twizzel
- 2011 USEF Pan American Games Short List – OBOS O’Reilly
- 2011 Bromont CCI1* 1st – Zipp
- 2011 Jersey Fresh CIC2* 2nd – OBOS O’Reilly
- 2010 Red Hills CIC1* 1st – All The Buzz
- 2010 Red Hills CIC3* World Cup Qualifier 3rd – Nevada Bay
- 2010 USEF High Performance A-List on Twizzel
- 2009 Luhmuhlen CCI4* Germany 5th – Twizzel
- 2009 USEF High Performance A List – Twizzel
- 2008 Fair Hill International CCI3* 3rd – Twizzel
- 2008 Fair Hill International CCI2* 2nd – Nevada Bay
- 2008 Planation Field CIC3* 1st – Twizzel
- 2008 Plantation Field CIC** 2nd – Nevada Bay
- 2008 The Fork Horse Trials CIC3* 7th – Twizzel
- 2008 Jersey Fresh CCI2* 4th – Twizzel
- 2008 Stuart Horse Trials CIC2* 4th – Twizzel
- 2008 American Eventing Championship Advanced 3rd – Twizzel
- 2008 American Eventing Championship Intermediate 4th – Nevada Bay
- 2007 Adequan Gold Cup Series 1st – Kiki du Manoir
- 2007 Cosequin Stuart Horse Trials CIC2* 1st – Kiki Du Manoir
- 2007 Jersey Fresh CCI2* 4th – Icarus
- 2006 USEF National CCI Championship – Kiki du Manoir
- 2006 Radnor CCI2* 3rd – Kiki du Manoir
- 2005 Luhmuhlen CCI4* Germany 16th – Second Hope, Second Highest Placed American
- 2004 USEA Young Rider and Advanced Rider of the Year
- 2004 USEF Olympic Games Short List – Fox In Flight
- 2004 Rolex Kentucky CCI4* 19th -Second Hope
- 2003 Bramham International U-25 CCI3* UK 1st – Fox In Flight
- 2003 Chatsworth Advanced 1st – Second Hope
- 2003 Chatsworth CIC3* – Fox-in-Flight
- 2003 Burghley International CCI4* UK – Fox in Flight
- 2002 Fair Hill CCI3* 8th — Second Hope
- 2001 NAYRC 1st – Ratzi