In Stride Interviews

A Top Rider's Secrets to Success: Lessons in Determination and Elite Performance | Will Coleman (US Olympic event rider)

Show Notes

Will Coleman's equestrian journey began at a young age when his family moved to a farm in Charlottesville, VA. He developed a passion for riding through experiences in the hunt fields and show jumping arenas, guided by his father's expertise. Over the past 25 years, Will has trained with notable equestrian figures, including Tad Coffin, Alison Brock, Karen & David O'Connor, and more recently, Ian Woodhead and Ian Stark. His notable achievements include representing the USA at the London Olympics and the World Equestrian Games, as well as securing a historic win at Aachen in 2021 with Off The Record. Will's focus now lies in preparing a string of horses for major world championships and 5-star events.

In today's episode, Sinead and Will discuss:

• Will's upbringing in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the influence of his equestrian family background

• Balancing college studies and pursuing a career in horse riding

• The challenges and lessons learned during Will's early years as a professional event rider

• The importance of mindset, personal growth, & overcoming perfectionism in the pursuit of excellence

• Will's coaching endeavors and the role of mentorship in the equestrian community

• The trajectory of USA high performance in eventing and the need for continuous improvement

• Gaining insights from other sports, such as golf, and applying them to horse riding

• Future plans and aspirations for Will

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Where to find Will Coleman

• Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/willcolemanequestrian/

• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/willcolemanequestrian

• Website: https://www.willcolemanequestrian.com/

Where to find Sinead Halpin Maynard

• Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/a.c.e.copperline/

• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/A.C.E.Copperline

• Website: https://www.copperlineequestrian.com/

• Lessons with Sinead on the Ride iQ app: http://onelink.to/8mhb95

In this episode

(00:00) Introduction

(02:21) Catching Up with Will Coleman

(03:18) Will's Background and Early Influences

(04:40) The Journey of Will's Father as a Rider

(11:05) Balancing Education and Equestrian Pursuits

(13:52) The Evolution of Will's Professional Career

(17:32) Overcoming Challenges and Navigating Transitions

(20:55) Finding Perspective and Enjoyment in the Sport

(23:00) The Impact of Mindset and Mental Approach

(38:55) Coaching and Guiding Young Riders

(46:41) The Trajectory of USA High Performance

(01:04:28) Personal Growth and Insights from Golf

(01:11:11) Personalized Approaches and Understanding Oneself

(01:18:10) The Importance of Communication and Feedback

(01:23:00) Final Questions

Referenced

• The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/905

• The 5 Horse Types: Traditional Chinese Medicine for Training and Caring for Every Horse by Dr. Ina Gösmeier: https://www.amazon.com/Horse-Types-Traditional-Medicine-Training/dp/1646010531

Quotes:

• "At the heart of good performance in any endeavor is your ability to separate yourself from how the performance is going to be interpreted by others."

• "The really good rider on a decent horse really doesn't have a chance now. You have to be a really good rider on a really good horse. Really good riders on average horses are competing for top ten finishes now. They're not going to win anymore." (On pairs at the top of the sport)

• "It's such a hard sport sometimes to really identify how to improve. And it's a long game, too. Something might take 18 months to really improve, and we want it to happen by the next event."

•  "I try to go into every event now with an expectation has nothing to do with the result, but rather with an expectation about how I'm approaching a horse that I really want to try to stay true to."

Transcript / Summary


Sinead Halpin Maynard
Welcome to the podcast, everyone. We've managed to catch Will Coleman fresh off his European tour. So, Will, have you been home for a few minutes or a few hours?

Will Coleman
Actually, I've been home for a few days now.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
Ah, so you're back in the swing of things. What's the first thing you did when you got home?

Will Coleman
I went to sleep. After a long day of traveling, about 24 hours, I got home around midnight and went right to bed.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
And you were gone for about a month, right?

Will Coleman
Yes, about four weeks.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
I'd like to discuss that trip more later. For now, let's discuss your history and how you got into this unique lifestyle that we're all part of. You grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia, right?

Will Coleman
Yes, mostly in the Charlottesville area since I was about five or six years old.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
Where were you before that? Where were you born?

Will Coleman
I was born in New York. We moved to Long Island shortly after I was born, and I lived there until we moved to Virginia when I was kindergarten age. I don't have many memories of New York; Virginia played a larger role in raising me.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
And your dad has been an avid rider his whole life, right?

Will Coleman
He grew up on a small farm in southern Virginia. As a kid, his riding wasn't sophisticated horse training, but more trail rides and cowboy rides. But he fell back in love with horses later in life after blowing out his knees playing squash. He started taking riding lessons and doing dressage in New York City, and he eventually became a very devoted amateur rider. His passion for horses was something that stuck with me more than it did with my two brothers.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
Now, did he start riding with Anne when he was in New York?

Will Coleman
No, he only did dressage at that time. He had a very good dressage trainer named Barbara Silverman, who was based out of a boarding barn in Long Island. As he got more into it, he reached nearly Grand Prix dressage rider status. After some unfortunate events with a horse getting injured, he switched to doing show jumping. He genuinely loved learning about horses, whether it was dressage or jumping.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
Your dad is quite good, right? He's jumped some big stuff.

Will Coleman
Yes, he's jumped some big courses. He did so on horses that he produced himself, with help from good people, like Anne. He had the respect of some of those professionals in Wellington.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
And you have two brothers. They're not riders, are they?

Will Coleman
We all rode as kids, mainly fox hunting. When my brothers hit high school, they lost interest in horses. They now have typical jobs with weekends and paid vacations.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
Your family always placed an emphasis on education. You attended university while also pursuing your horse riding passion. I remember first meeting you when you were around 16, dabbling in a bit of everything. Can you tell us about how you balanced school and horse riding?

Will Coleman
Indeed, I set up a barn, and my parents encouraged me to obtain a college degree even if I wanted to pursue horses, which I did. After high school, I took three years off and moved to Middleburg to live and work with horses. We were all there around the same time, and it was about immersing myself completely in that lifestyle to see if it was something I wanted to do professionally. It's easy to love horses when you envision attending the Olympic Games, traveling the world, and experiencing glamorous events, but the reality is that it requires a lot of hard work. You have to genuinely love horses for it to be a fulfilling lifestyle. My parents understood this, and they encouraged me to take time to discover how much I truly loved it, knowing the challenges of the profession.

Will Coleman
Ultimately, I did love it, but I still had a commitment to my parents to earn a degree. So, I returned to the University of Virginia, having deferred admission, and managed to complete my studies rather quickly – in about two and a half years. I continued riding during this time. The experience broadened my horizons and offered a greater self-understanding. Diving headfirst into the horse world can be overwhelming, and I think my time in school provided necessary perspective and allowed me to mature before embarking on a professional career.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
During your time in Middleburg and even when you returned to school, were you sure that you were ready to do this professionally? Was this the path you were committed to?

Will Coleman
Yes, I always knew I'd come back to it. More than anything, it was competition-driven. I felt I had a lot to achieve, although, admittedly, I was quite naive about how challenging it was going to be.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
Can you describe the difference between your expectations and reality in the initial years of becoming a professional event rider? How did your vision match up with the leap you took into the professional realm, and how did you navigate that transition?

Will Coleman
I was fortunate to have accomplished a lot at a young age in the sport. I attended my first five-star event at 19 and rode at Bramham, Burghley, Luhmuhlen, and Kentucky by 21. However, I think I underestimated the process of producing the next wave of horses after my initial group aged. Choosing the right horses and implementing a training program to keep up with international eventing was a challenge. I realized I was behind in the training aspect. I had riding skills, but I was missing the training scale knowledge that would allow me to be more consistently successful. There was a significant gap of about four or five years between the cluster of five-star events I did early on and my next one.

Even when I got back to that level around 2011 or 2012, I look back and realize there's so much I would do differently now. It's a tough sport. There's a lot to know and learn, much of it through experience. While you can possess good riding technical skills at an early age, developing and training horses, preparing them - that's where you can distinguish yourself. I think I was deficient in those skills in the early stages of my professional career.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
I don't believe you were behind. It's challenging to grow up in this sport, particularly as you've been part of the system from a young age. Your mentors and learning experiences changed over time, and navigating your own path within that space was difficult, especially on a public platform. Now, you're balancing strong results, a wonderful family with two kids, and managing everything seemingly with grace and success. I know it has been a struggle, so how have you managed to evolve with these challenges?

Will Coleman
Regardless of how smooth things might appear from the outside, it's often not the case. I'm fortunate to have the support of my wife, Katie, who is also my partner in everything I do. She's been instrumental in helping me regain my footing and restart my career to some extent. We got married in 2014 and have been rebuilding a string of horses while creating a collective identity for our program and business. Having someone who is equally involved and passionate about what you do, someone with whom you can have healthy dialogues about improvements and positive changes, is invaluable. That has been the foundation of everything positive over the past few years, and it all starts with her.

Will Coleman
As for my career, it took me a while to focus on doing the best job I can with the horses and not being so intent on validating myself through my performances. I no longer feel like my performance at a major event is a referendum on who I am as an athlete, a horse person, or a rider. As I let go of some of that, better riding and horsemanship have emerged. I think you have to hit a sort of bottom to realize some of these things, and I hit that point where I had to decide not just how to reorient myself within my sport and craft, but also what would make me enjoy this again. With Katie's involvement, the support of our coaches, and many others, I've been able to improve. It's a collective effort, but Katie deserves most of the credit.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
I want to circle back to your reorientation within the sport. You reached a point where you weren't pleased with the situation. Was there a specific moment when you realized this isn't what you wanted, or that you weren't happy? Was there a particular event that prompted this realization that something had to change?

Will Coleman
Honestly, I noticed the change more in the people around me; I was becoming difficult to be around. I was perpetually negative and down on anything that wasn't unrealistically exceptional, unable to recognize any positives. I was difficult to be around. I believed that the answer to everything was more hard work. Becoming a father has helped me learn to accept things, to understand what I can and can't control, and to let go of things that are out of my control. I've also come to terms with the fact that sometimes things just aren't going to work out. When I really start to look at the sport, and all sports in general, it's clear that there are hard knocks and heartbreaks. These are experiences that you can't escape, and they shape your perspective.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
Recently, I've been rereading The Inner Game of Tennis. It's a book you recommended to me, and it's been illuminating. I'm noticing aspects I wasn't ready to comprehend the first time I read it. Much of it concerns not being judgmental, not defining everything I do in the sport as good or bad. What I do doesn't define who I am. And really, it doesn't matter. This perspective makes the sport much more enjoyable. Just yesterday, while riding, I reflected on this. For the past few years, I've been thinking that I need to be doing more, to have more horses, to get back to the top of the sport as quickly as possible. But who am I trying to prove myself to, and why? Things will happen when they happen. I've been enjoying working on the internal part of the game, and it's incredibly satisfying. When I can ride through a situation and judge it well, it feels really good. And when I face a stressful situation and it doesn't feel stressful, that's empowering. This ability to work on mastering the internal game feels real and significant. As a result, the external game becomes less important.

Will Coleman
Absolutely. In any endeavor, good performance comes from the ability to separate oneself from how the performance will be interpreted by others. Setting realistic expectations, and then enjoying the challenge of trying to meet them, has been beneficial for me. Sometimes it's hardest to maintain this mentality when things are going really well. You end up wanting more, becoming more results and outcome-oriented, and it can affect your daily mindset. Of course, you have to be performance-oriented in this sport, but the focus should be on staying present and being a little bit outcome-oriented in each moment, rather than obsessing over rankings or placings.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
I agree. It's almost like trying to find the right balance. Ian Woodhead, for instance, is a performance coach. Some of the work we did has made a significant difference in my performance. But sometimes, his approach doesn't align with my understanding of equine learning and motivation. But then I realized, that's his role - he focuses on performance. It's my job to prepare myself and my horse for this pressure before we get there. His timing and eye for performance are excellent. It took me some time to figure that out. As I get older, I'm appreciating the value of different perspectives. Everyone has their own strengths. If I need to work on the performance side

Will Coleman
Well, I try to keep my mindset steady. Regardless of whether I'm heading to Luhmuhlen or Aachen, I simplify my thoughts for each horse, focusing on their current training progress. Despite the significance of these events, I approach them as if they were a normal week at home or a standard event. I trust our program and the work we've done with these horses so far. So, when I arrive at these events, I don't feel compelled to do anything different or extraordinary. I just need to be myself, adapting well to daily circumstances. We always have plans for how things will go, but sometimes the situation changes. The horse may react differently than expected. For example, before the show jumping at Aachen, Timmy was very excited. It felt like he was a four-year-old bolting at the jumps. You have to establish communication with the horse and maintain it throughout the competition. So, I don't really change my mindset from training to performance - they should be extensions of each other. Over time, I've gotten better at staying in a training mindset, regardless of where I am. However, I've also made mistakes when I tried too hard or attempted to force things. I did that at Kentucky this year, and it took away from our performance. For me, the key is staying calm and not feeling pressured to elevate my game. Instead, I do the best I can with what I've got. This approach has served me well when I manage to maintain it.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
Throughout your career, has this mindset been a part of your evolution? Is it something you and Katie and your team focused on to make this more sustainable and enjoyable?

Will Coleman
Yes, I've become more aware of this mindset over time, and simply being aware of it has made it easier to adhere to it. You can trust this approach when you feel good about your training method and the horses. As our training evolves, I feel more confident in preparing and training the horses than I did before. This is where I devote most of my energy - to be a better horse trainer and help the horses perform better, rather than just pressuring them to do so. Katie would agree with this, I believe. When I speak with you and Tik, I enjoy our conversations because you guys are also exploring ways to be better horse trainers and to communicate more effectively with the horses. I find the different approaches to training horses and tackling different issues fascinating. I don't have all the answers; I just enjoy looking for them.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
Indeed. I was speaking to one of the girls who works for us. She's 18 or 19 and was struggling to manage her emotions. She was worried about her feelings overwhelming her and affecting the horse. Listening to her reminded me of when I was her age and no one around me said that what I was feeling was normal. It took me until my 30s to relax and start enjoying learning about horses. I'm still very interested in this and approach it with curiosity. If things go wrong, it just means there's more to figure out. But I don't know if many people can do that in their 20s. I'm sure your team is excellent at supporting your young riders through these challenges. It's great to have gone through it yourself, to guide them and reassure them that it will be okay.

Will Coleman
Yes.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
And so, how do you manage coaching your riders who are at two, three, and four-star levels? Do you enjoy this part of the job?

Will Coleman
I'm finding more enjoyment in coaching over time. Striking a balance between focusing on my own riding and coaching others is a challenge, especially when striving to ride and coach at a certain level simultaneously. Our program is relatively small; I'm not inclined to teach group lessons for dozens of people, but I do enjoy guiding individuals consistently. I like being part of their program, providing guidance and advice more effectively. It's about helping them communicate better with their horses. Katie and I both genuinely enjoy that because we love the horses.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
It's really a service for the horses. A few years ago, our vet, Dr. Cassinella, asserted that she works for the horses. That thought stuck with me and now influences my teaching. The motivation behind coaching in our team is primarily for the relationship with the horses. We aim to educate riders better so the horses have a more enjoyable experience and better communication. Remember when you came back from Aachen after winning last year? There were many positive comments about your strong leadership role in uniting the team and creating good camaraderie. Is a coaching role in your future? With your evident leadership skills, you seem suited for working with elite horses and riders.

Will Coleman
I think our success at Aachen was due to a great group of people creating a supportive environment. It's crucial at competitions to feel that your team has your back and doesn't judge you harshly or unfairly. In that context, I wouldn't take credit for it; it was a communal effort. As for a future in high-performance coaching, I haven't given it any consideration. I enjoy horses and the top-level sport, but I don't know where I'll be in 10 years. Currently, I'm focusing on personal growth as a horse person and a rider, which I find enjoyable and rewarding.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
That's a healthier perspective. Having been in this program for a while, what are your thoughts on the trajectory of USA high performance?

Will Coleman
There's a lot to be optimistic about. Riders need to look at themselves, understand the standard, and figure out how to meet it. It's not about seeking Federation support or recognition; it's about personal development and horse selection. Championships and five-star success are not the same, but require similar attributes and skills. The Federation should support this process, but it's not about one coach dictating everyone's approach. Our own trajectory has improved, but we still have deficiencies to address, in terms of horse-related aspects and other ways to get better. The U.S. has had recent successes, including two in the top five at Luhmuhlen, a Maryland Five Star win by Boyd Martin, and several in the top 10 at Kentucky. However, there are still areas for improvement. The standard has risen. Now, you have to be a really good rider on a really good horse to win. We must recognize this and strive to climb higher, always improving our program and aiming for those high goals.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
That's an excellent point. I recently had a conversation with Rebecca Howard about the differences between England and the US. She pointed out that we have so many professional riders in the States. In fact, there are a lot of individuals who are unable to ride professionally because they're teaching and doing other activities. This is why the hobby is so popular here, and it's not defined by just one or two people, but by about twenty, all within a small vicinity. That certainly paints a clear picture. Perhaps there was one horse or rider recently who was able to meet that standard, but now we're seeing three, four, or even five. The more riders we have in the US who can perform consistently at a high level, the more the bar will rise. It doesn't need to happen overnight. We don't need 30 or 40 combinations instantly. Even three to five strong combinations of good horses and riders can elevate the standards.

Will Coleman
That's a great point. We Americans often feel a sense of achievement just by getting an invitation to a prestigious event, which we view as a sign of our elite status. However, I believe we need to evolve this mindset to wanting to win, not just participating. We need to strive to improve our performance continually. While this is starting to happen here, we're still in the early stages. With the ongoing overhaul of eventing, I hope we can encourage this mentality across all riders in the country. There's a lot to be optimistic about in US eventing, but we shouldn't start celebrating just yet.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
Absolutely. The key is to maintain consistency in delivering good results, instead of just a flash in the pan. This needs to be spread across a few rider combinations. Even in our recent successes, there's room for improvement. But that's exciting, right? We're moving in the right direction.

Will Coleman
No question. Improvement is achievable. It's about identifying the real factors hindering our potential and addressing them without judgement. Are my horse and I inefficient on the cross-country track? Could my horse be fitter? These are the kind of questions we need to ask ourselves. Having the right people to guide us to the answers is crucial. That's probably what we lack here more than anything in the US - people who can genuinely contribute to this discussion. It's about finding the right insights and determining the best way forward for yourself.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
I agree. In order to improve, I need to feel safe enough to assess things objectively, without judgement. I see people working hard at every level. But hard work isn't enough. We need honest feedback that's not weighed down by defensiveness or emotion. Finding people you trust is essential. The right people for you might change throughout your career, depending on your needs at the time. It's also important to be mature enough to seek feedback from people who will tell you the truth, not just what you want to hear.

Will Coleman
Absolutely. While it's important to have people in your life who make you feel good, you also need those who can provide unfiltered feedback. It can be hard to identify how to improve in this sport, and improvement can be a long process. Putting pressure on ourselves can sometimes set us back. Being a horse person means being realistic in analyzing results and setting expectations. Lately, I've been trying to approach every event with an expectation that's not tied to the result but focuses on my approach towards the horse. Interestingly, playing golf has greatly helped my mental approach to riding.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
Could you provide an example?

Will Coleman
I believe being willing to commit to a certain approach when managing a horse at an event is essential, regardless of immediate outcomes. The ultimate goal is achieving a better end product from the horse. In my mind, it's similar to committing to a golf shot without worrying about where it lands. As a perfectionist, I've had to accept the natural inconsistencies in golf, learn to enjoy the game and improve despite them. These experiences have been incredibly helpful in understanding my approach towards horses.

Often, I've noticed that on certain holes in golf, if I make a bad shot and get stuck behind a tree, I become less invested in the process. A similar tendency emerges with horse riding when I have a poor jump round in competition. Recognizing this tendency, I've been learning to enjoy the moment and stay present in every part of the process, which I think contributes to my proficiency in both golf and horse riding.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
Interesting. In a recent podcast with Sharon White, she mentioned taking dance lessons and how it's drastically improved her riding. She had to learn to follow without always leading, which she found quite transformational.

Will Coleman
Like dance, golf can be very technical. However, I try not to think of it in technical terms because it becomes a slippery slope for me. Instead, I've been learning to perform this technical task without thinking of it as such, focusing on the whole picture rather than any single technical part of it. The coaches I gravitate towards tend to teach less technically and more based on feeling and understanding the horse's needs. This approach has made me a better rider.

I recently took a personality test related to golf, which suggested that my approach to the game should be guided by my inherent personality traits. The test results were so accurate that when I asked my wife Katie about it, she completely agreed. I found the concept so interesting that I started reading more about it.

I was chatting with two of our partners, Rich and Roxanne Booth, who are very involved in athletics and they mentioned that the former football coach at the University of Virginia used to make every player take a personality test. The coaches would then approach teaching different concepts to the players based on how they process information. I believe this concept could be beneficial for golf or horse riding as well. People learn differently, some need a technical breakdown, while others need an entirely different approach. Matching people up with coaching styles that suit their personality could enhance their learning process.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
It's really fascinating. We do apply this kind of personalized approach to our horses, understanding their distinct needs and learning styles. The challenge is in translating that understanding to ourselves, knowing who we are and how we process information.

Will Coleman
You're absolutely right. We do it instinctively with horses. I've learned that certain horses need clear, concise training, while others require a more gentle approach with a lot of patience. People are no different. Sometimes I think there's a tendency to view everyone as the same when it comes to learning, which overlooks the individual nuances in how we process information.

Regarding personality tests, we often have ways of deceiving ourselves about who we are. But understanding oneself or another person makes it easier to communicate and work with them. We're trying to foster a real team environment here. I've spoken to my team members, Haley and Aaron, about the golf personality test, and they found it accurate too. I've suggested that we all take a personality test, believing it would facilitate better understanding and cooperation among us. Corporations and organizations implement this approach all the time. It's a simple way of being more attuned to the people around you.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
When you think about it, some of the best coaches, bosses, horsemen, and so on, have a clear understanding of how to read the room. They know who needs to be where and in what situation to be successful. This is how you want the yard to operate and how you want the horses to perform. We aim to maintain certain standards, principles, and goals. However, the problem often lies in communication. Even when speaking the same language, messages can be misunderstood or misinterpreted.

We've had this conversation here several times. We have a great team right now, but there have been some clashes. I've had to step in and reiterate that I believe everyone here is competent and committed to their roles, and we all want the horses to be well cared for and presented to a certain standard. So, where's the disconnect? I think it's often in how individuals interpret what's being said or how they understand the intentions of others.

For example, we have one girl who is fantastic, but under stress, she slows down significantly. This is simply her way of coping. She needs a bit of motivation to get her moving. I figured this out because she behaves exactly like her horse – under pressure, the horse slows down as well. The horse seems almost frozen in time with anxiety.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
What is the biggest lesson a horse has taught you about yourself?

Will Coleman
For me, the biggest battle has always been wrestling with perfectionism. Several horses have taught me how to overcome this, to shift my focus and approach. One horse in particular, Tight Lines, forced me to let go of my perfectionism. I'm extremely grateful for that.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
You did some amazing things with that horse. I remember watching at the last Kentucky event from home, seeing him enter the ring and almost take a bow. Despite an exciting warmup, you both completed clear rounds. Quite impressive.

Will Coleman
Tight Lines is a remarkable horse. He taught me how to meet a horse in the middle, focusing on realistic expectations and appreciating the process, rather than obsessing over a specific outcome. He was a turning point for me as a horse person.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
They all teach us their lessons, don't they? Reflecting on it, you realize each horse has taught you something different, and it's rarely linear. Do you have a favorite training or competition mantra that you reference regularly?

Will Coleman
Not specifically, but I try to remain humble and appreciate the difficulty of the sport. Accepting that it's challenging and enjoying that challenge improves my chances of succeeding. You can't be resentful of the challenge; you have to smile at it and enjoy it.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
Is there a piece of advice someone gave you along the way that you still reference today?

Will Coleman
Yes, during training camp for The World Equestrian Games in 2018. I felt like Tight Lines was under too much pressure, and I could sense him struggling. Before I went to camp, I decided that I needed to rebuild my relationship with this horse. Christian noticed this and convinced me that it was okay to accept the situation. He advised me to back off a bit, focus on doing simple things well, and understand that I wasn't going to be able to put together a great five-star dressage test at that moment.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
It's fascinating, isn't it? There are certain people or things you read or hear that, if you're attentive, give you these little permissions. It's often something you already know, but these things come along and validate your feelings

Will Coleman
To seek inspiration, I aim to surround myself with the best horsemen I can find. Often at the end of the spring season, I may feel a bit drained and seek to be reinvigorated or reinspired. This usually coincides with the Upperville Horse Show, where there is always a top-class group of riders. I'd spend time near the warm-up area, watching the best people teach and ride. They are like artists. Being around the top level of any sport, especially horses, is always inspiring.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
I agree. Watching anyone excel at something is akin to watching art. Let's move on to our last question. Have you had an experience or faced adversity separate from horses that has directly influenced you as a horseman?

Will Coleman
Yes, an impactful event in my life was when my aunt was killed crossing the street. She was leaving church with her son. Her son survived but she suffered massive head injuries and died. She was my mother's sister. This event truly hammered home the idea that every day is a gift. We often struggle to find balance in our lives, especially when horses dominate your life as they do in this profession. However, we chose this path willingly. Despite our days being heavily dominated by horses, we strive to enjoy them and what we do. We may often find ourselves sweating the small stuff, but we try to maintain perspective. We're very lucky and blessed with two beautiful children and a happy marriage.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
Yes, it's always essential to remember to appreciate life. I remember in my 20s, when a friend passed away, it shook me. It wasn't a close friend, but it really made me appreciate the gift of life. It taught me gratitude. I remember being at the gym, running on a treadmill, and feeling gratitude that I could run. I ran longer that day because I could. Now, whether it's running or riding horses, or appreciating having children, I try to do a good job and appreciate it.

Will Coleman
Indeed, that's what I like to think the ones we've lost would want us to take away from it.

Sinead Halpin Maynard
Yes, they'd want us to move on and live our lives to the fullest. Well, this has been great. I appreciate you taking the time to chat with us. Now, go back to those kiddos and your wonderful wife. Thanks so much, and we'll talk to you soon.

Will Coleman
Thank you.

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