I had the chance to speak with five-star eventer Will Faudree at the Carolina International Horse Trials in March. During our conversation, I asked Faudree about two of his accomplished mounts—Pfun, a 14-year old Irish Sport Horse gelding and Mama's Magic Way, a 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding. He gave the inside scoop on their personalities, his training techniques, and how he's preparing for the Kentucky Three-Day Event.
Can you tell us about Mama's Magic Way?
We call [Mama's Magic Way] "Mason" in the barn. He's a gelding, even though his [registered] name sounds like he's a girl. He's super talented, but he is green. I know what I have going into Kentucky with Pfun. Pfun is like the senior on the varsity team and Mason's like the freshmen getting stuck on the varsity team. I'm going to have to show [Mason] things a little bit differently. But, I'm really excited about both of them headed to Kentucky.
How do you prepare mentally and physically for a big event like Kentucky?
I work out five days a week, I have a personal trainer who I'm very lucky to work with. She comes to my farm Monday through Friday when I'm home and puts me through a lot of workouts. So physically, I do a lot of that. Mentally, it's just really focusing on what I have control of and knowing my horses through and through so I know how I need to present whatever exercises they're being faced with.
Do you have any pre-show routines or superstitions?
I gave up all my superstitions in 2015 after I broke my neck. The untoward happenstances of life, we have no control over. You just have to put one foot in front of the other and take it as it comes. We're here to do a job and we're going to do our job the best we can. It drives me nuts when I hear people say, "Nobody wants it more." That's garbage. We all want it. We all work really hard and some days luck is our side and some days it's not. But more importantly, you have to know your horse. For me, it's the partnership. I tend to train through emotion and that's how I work. So, I don't really have any superstitions. I just wake up and say, "What's my job today?" and "What can I control and what can I not control?" and how to produce the best result I can.
Are there any specific health-care routines that you follow with your horses?
I have an unbelievable, unbelievable veterinary program that manages my horses. Dr. Meghann Lustgarten and Dr. Lynn Gomes are at my farm every Monday looking over my horses. I've always been very proactive about my horses' care. But, I'm not a vet, I don't know what to do. So, I have to have people that I trust and that I know my horses are in the right hands. I watch my horses jog every week and I'm very involved and I know their legs and I feel everything. But, I have total confidence and trust in my veterinary program that when my vets say, "You're good to go," my job is to go and focus on competing, not worrying about taking it easy. My job is to ride. My job is to compete. My job is to present the questions my horses are going to see in a way that they can understand. I'm not a vet, I'm not a farrier. I leave that to the professionals. I'm very lucky and very fortunate with the team that I have looking after my horses.
Faudree had planned to ride one of his other mounts, Pfun, in the CCI5*-L at Kentucky in April. But unfortunately, Pfun recently had a minor injury that has put him on the sidelines him for 30 days. Faudree is still hoping to compete him at The Luhmühlen Horse Trials in Salzhausen, Germany, in June.
Can you tell us about PFun?
My best friend and coach Bobby Costello imported him from Ireland when he was 3 [years old], coming 4. I took over the ride when he was 5, so we've had him a long time—he's 14-years-old now. [Pfun] has earned every result he's ever gotten, because he's not the fastest horse in the world and he's doesn't have an exuberant trot. He's a good mover, but he's very businesslike. I have to say, that horse shows up to work every day and gives 100 percent all the time. He's just a fun horse to ride, and that's why I named him [Pfun]. He's fun because he's the same every day. There's no quirks about him. There's quirks in the barn and he hates horses coming at him in the warmup, so I have to be careful about that. But when he goes out and he goes into the dressage ring, or the show-jumping ring, or leaves the start box, he knows his job and he knows he's there for a reason.
Are there any specific training exercises that you've worked on with Pfun?
When he gallops and when we do things, he goes fast. Because he's not a super fast horse, he's had to learn how to gallop. He's had to learn how to go fast. So, we work a lot on speed and getting him to breathe while he's running fast. That would be the biggest thing. He's a phenomenal jumper. He's super laid back sometimes. We've been to the Carolina Horse Park a million times and I love it that we jump on the grass here, because he went into the ring yesterday and he was really impressed and animated. So, that makes my job a bit easier. Sometimes you have to put the animation in him, but he always steps up to the challenge.