The Following Horses belong in the Will Coleman Equestrian “Hall OF Fame”. They have helped shape Will’s career and made an impact of the equestrian community.
A Tribute to Conair “Joey”
“Joey” Owned by the Conair Syndicate was a true gentleman in every sense of the word. Sadly in 2014 Joey passed away doing what he loved in competition. It’s heartbreaking to lose any horse, but it stings a bit more when it’s one with so much talent and potential. Joey is missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him and many hearts will continue to ache for the years to come, knowing that Joey’s time with us was cut short.
“Things happen in life that are simply tragic and hard to explain. The loss of a horse is no different than losing a family member. One of the few things that lessens the pain is being able to tell them how much they meant to you and how much they were loved before they are gone. Lucky for us, a horseman gets to convey that to his horses everyday; in the way that we care for them, exercise them, and train them, in the various ways that we make them aware that their happiness matters to us. In this regard, I have no doubt that Joey knew how much he meant to us. Anyone who knew him could testify to his zeal for life and work. He did not get by on talent. He was all heart, the “Rudy” of equines. His work ethic will continue to inspire me, and his joyful presence will always be missed. Myself and Katie want to thank Joey’s owners: The Booth family, Team Rebecca LLC, and Nanki Doubleday for their support and understanding. You have been amazing throughout, and I thank you now for your friendship more than anything.”
Fox In Flight
Fox In Flight was Will’s first true international horse. It was on “Cheddar” that Will won the 2003 Bramham U-25 CCI3*, and completed Burghley later that year in 25th place (After a beautiful XC round with just 3 time penalties, they were in 12th place headed into show jumping at Burghley, but unfortunately rolled 3 polls to drop down). Will was just 20 years old when he and Cheddar accomplished these things, getting them a spot on the 2004 Olympic Long List and a USEF Training grant. From there, luck would abandon them. Cheddar suffered a small injury two weeks before Rolex, ending the Olympic chances, and then sadly was sold when Will matriculated at UVA. To this day, Will says Cheddar was the best cross-country horse he ever sat on, and calls selling him his biggest regret. “Cheddar was a big, goofy redhead; he didn’t look like the athlete that he was, but galloping across country has never felt easier on anything else. At Bramham, we crossed the finish line 15 seconds early, and I swear he felt like he could do it again! Burghley was the same. The only reason we had 3 time penalties was because it was my first four-star, and when we got to the Dairy Mounds, I was sure he had to get tired at some point and so I slowed him down! If I had just kicked on, he would have made the time easy. He was a wonderful horse. We brought the best out in each other. I still think I made the wrong choice in selling him, and I regret it to this day. If I am ever blessed to have another horse that goes around Burghley like that, you can be sure I won’t let him go!”
Nevada Bay was perhaps the most talented horse across the three phases that Will has ever had. Owned by Will’s longest-tenured supporter, Nanki Doubleday, Nev burst onto the global scene in 2010, with a third place finish in his first CIC3* at the Red Hills World Cup and then followed that with a win at the Bromont International CCI3*. He seemed destined for an amazing career, but soundness would prove to be his downfall at the top level. Nanki and Will decided an alternate career would suit Nev the best. He is currently an amateur show jumper with a wonderful home, and to this day, Will says he has never ridden a better jumper or a braver horse than Nevada Bay. A true superstar that never was.
Second Hope, or “Bob”, would be the horse that taught Will the most. Exceptionally difficult on the flat and incredibly sharp to ride, Bob forced a young Will to develop good feel and a soft, sympathetic ride. Despite the challenges, Bob and Will had an incredibly successful career, twice finishing in the top 8 at Fair Hill International and twice in the top 20 of CCI4* events, including a 14th place finish at Luhmuhlen CCI4*. Bob still lives at Tivoli, running the big retiree paddock like a black stallion. “Probably the smartest horse I have ever known, he was really probably the most incredible to watch me work in the round pen. He would hook on to what you were doing so quickly; incredibly intelligent animal. He had that same attitude cross-country: I could literally just follow his ears down to the jump, as he was so good at sighting his fences. He was an amazing jumper to boot, but the dressage was always tough, though I feel at the end of his career, it genuinely improved. Bob was always my horse, and I’m happy he’s still with me. Watching him in the field, you wouldn’t think he’s almost 27 years old!”
Twizzel and Will are a story of perseverance, as their career together almost never got started. Not long after Twizzel came into the US, a shoulder cyst was discovered that seemed to threaten his ability to event. Vets were called in, and thanks to the brilliance of Kevin Keane and Dean Richardson, successful surgery was performed and, after a year in the field, Twizzel and Will finally got a chance. At Fair Hill CCI3*, Twizzel proved he was worth the wait, finishing 3rd, and only barely losing the event after just tipping the final pole in stadium. That following spring, he crossed the pond and jumped flawlessly at Luhmuhlen CCI4* to finish 5th.
All looked well heading into the WEG year of 2010, but luck left WCE stables once again.Will broke his collarbone on a young horse at the Fork, knocking him out of Kentucky and taking with it his chance at the World Games team. In 2011, more bad luck. Will and Twizzel had an inexplicable fall halfway round Rolex after jumping the first half in exemplary fashion. Then, after a brilliant UK summer campaign highlighted by a 7th place at the Barbury CIC3*, Twizzel was withdrawn in the dressage warm-up at Burghley after suddenly going lame. But, not giving up, they regrouped and came back home to finish 4th at Fair Hill that same year, still putting themselves in contention for the 2012 team. In the following spring, on a mission, Will and Twizzel delivered.
Finishing on their dressage score, they were 4th at Rolex that spring, and that result propelled them onto their first Olympic team. “In the end, Twizzel wasn’t the most talented horse. He lacked a bit of blood, had an unusual jumping style, and was a bit of a worm on the flat. But, he made up for it all with a personality as big as the world. He was just the happiest horse, and he loved the attention of big crowds and big events. I think physically, he wasn’t himself at the Olympics. He was an older horse, and the four-star level was a big ask of him. Two of those events in 3 months may have just been too much. But, I’m still so proud of him. He gave more of himself in our career together than any other horse I’ve had, and he will live out his days with me like a king. He still gets worked everyday, and loves to be ridden, groomed, and, obviously, fed. He’s a special horse to me. A very kind soul.”