Welcome to our new series “Eventing Super Couples”. Over the next couple of weeks, to celebrate Valentine’s month, you will get to know some of the sports’ favourite couples just a little bit better. These hard working Eventing pairs provide insight about their businesses and programs and they are also sharing their love stories.
Will Coleman (USA) and Katie Thornton Coleman (CAN)
Will has been successfully running Will Coleman Equestrian since graduating from the University of Virginia in 2008. In November, he married Canadian Katie Thornton and they are building a life and a business together. They have an expanding list of successful students, a calendar booked full of clinic dates and a growing string of quality horses with supportive owners.
What’s going on at Will Coleman Equestrian
One of the USA’s top eventers, Will Coleman has been on the USEF’s high performance list for over a decade and represented his country at the 2012 Olympics. Will is known for carefully producing top horses and has developed many to the highest levels of eventing. His record includes two top five finishes at the four-star level and multiple wins at the three-star level on a variety of horses. This year, he is aiming to compete OBOS O’Reilly at Rolex and this will be his 4th four-star horse.
With a proven track-record of producing horses to the top level, Will is currently acquiring young promising horses with a goal of having a competitive line-up of 15 or so top horses.
“We think we have a good system for acquiring the horses, and bringing them along in a way that’s efficient and value-adding for somebody who wants to be involved. Right now we’re probably heavy on the younger side, but we made a decision to go that direction. It will take some time, but we think it will end up giving us more top horses down the road,” says Will.
The horses they have in their program are sourced from a variety of places. Will says, “We look everywhere. We are not solely dependent on Europe or the UK for horses. We look here a lot. It’s all about finding a horse that has all the right qualities, and then finding one for pretty reasonable money.”
Last year they bought three horses out of France. One of them, Vagabond de Champdoux, won the 5-Year-Old Event Horse Championship at Fair Hill and they sold him to Caitlin Silliman. This spring, the other two, Soupçon de Brunet, an 8-year-old Anglo-Arab and Tight Lines, a 7-year-old French thoroughbred, are aiming for a three-star and two-star respectively. Will says, “Both of those horses look like they have a lot of really, really good qualities, and I expect them to have good careers.”
This week they added two new 5-year-olds from Ireland. At the moment the only upper level horse in their string is OBOS O’Reilly but they are taking a patient approach to developing a complete and solid program.
Will says, “We would love to add another top horse to the yard. I think that we lack that to a degree. You know, we lost Conair last year. That was really hard on us emotionally but also on the program. It was tough because he was, I think, going to be a horse that kind of kept us in the game a little bit until our younger ones came along. But that kind of changed some things and we would love to add another one, but at the same time there aren’t that many of them out there. I think you have to recognize that if the horses aren’t there, they just aren’t there. Don’t buy something just to buy something. We are patiently looking, but if that horse doesn’t come along, then we feel like our young horses are going to be every bit as good. It’s just going to take a little bit longer.”
“We believe to get top results, it is always better if you have much more time invested in the horse, and know the horse that much better. We believe in that part of it, and I think we have a system that will bring the best out in the horses. But it takes time and it takes patient owners, and we’ve been lucky that we have that so far, and we just want to add more people to the program.”
Will and Katie Coleman unplugged
This gorgeous couple exchanged vows in front of family and close friends in Virginia in November 2014. They have enjoyed a whirlwind romance around the world for business and pleasure, sharing time in some of the most romantic backdrops imaginable including Bahamas, France and Italy. They are in love and happy to share some fun facts about their love story.
Where did you meet?
Will: Bromont 2011
Katie: I was working for Michael Pollard and Will was there competing, and Michael and Will are friends, and so we just met through him.
Where did you go on your first date?
Will: We met for drinks in Charlottesville. I wouldn’t say it was an official date, but it was kind of haphazard a little bit, you know, serendipitous. But we met for drinks and, you know, I was a single guy and Katie was a single girl and so we kind of made plans to see each other again. I would call that maybe a first date.
Katie: Yeah, we consider it our first date.
Who said ‘I love you’ first?
Will: I did first.
Katie: I said it right back. I was holding out. I was going to make him say it first.
Where’s the most romantic place you guys have been?
Will: Oh, that’s a tough one.
Katie: We are really lucky.
Will: Our first year together, we had a lot of really special trips for a variety of reasons. A friend of mine got married in Harbor Island, Bahamas. We stayed in this little kind of one room bungalow right on the beach.
Katie: Cottage, just one room.
Will: It was like a Corona commercial. It was really cool, and that was pretty amazing.
Katie: That was also where he said ‘I love you’ so it was probably one of the more romantic places.
Katie, what’s the best gift Will gave you?
Katie: Will gave me a lovely 4-year-old Spanish mare by a good turf stallion “Egeo” out of a Skyboy mare as an engagement present.
Will, what’s the best gift Katie gave you?
Will: Honestly, the best gift is…this is a hard sport and a hard life, and having somebody that’s just there with you every day and kind of through all the ups and downs is really incredible. Katie does it in a very selfless and truly supportive way, and it’s just been incredible. I’m very lucky.
Students and clinics:
Will is still accepting students and has a few clinic dates open for 2015. However, their calendar is filling up fast so contact them as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
Join the Will Coleman Equestrian team as an owner:
To join Will’s growing group of owners and enjoy the ultimate thrill of owning an event horse contact Katie.
To keep up with Will Coleman Equestrian on a daily basis:
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