Will Faudree (USA) brought two of his top mounts to the 2023 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event—Mama’s Magic Way in the CCI5* and PFun in the CCI4*-S. With two horses in two divisions, Faudree had two different experiences with each.
Mama’s Magic Way, a 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding known as “Mason” in the barn, demonstrated his magic through each phase of the five-star, ultimately finishing 13th overall. And though competitive on PFun in the four-star, Faudree showcased his horsemanship when he made the decision to retire on cross country. Faudree and the 16-year-old Irish Sporthorse gelding are longtime partners, so when PFun showed hesitation on course, he made the call to put his horse above the competition.
Take a look at what Faudree had to say of Mason’s efforts at the Kentucky Three-Day and why he made the decision to retire PFun:
How was Mason’s dressage test?
You always hope for a better score. It’s hard being the third one. He’s one of the most talented horses I’ve ever gotten to ride. There’s not an ounce of malice in that horse’s body, but he is like a three-year-old little kid on a sugar high at Disney World all the time. And when we go down the center line, he’s like trying to ride a daddy long-legs on a sugar high at Disney World being chased by the three year old. Legs start going everywhere. So, it’s just keeping him really focused.
The trot work—they told me I was over 70 percent at the end of the trot work. The walk was good. He walked the whole time, but he started to get a little bit behind my left leg. He was good in the canter work, but there’s still tension there, unlike the trot work. I don’t know who gave me the 62 percent, but that was, I thought, a little harsh. But, it’s not going to be a dressage competition and I’m very glad I’m going be sitting on his back when I leave the starting box on Saturday.
How are you feeling about cross country?
Good. This is [Mason’s] fourth five-star. I did Badminton [Horse Trials] in 2005 on a horse called Antigua, and then I took Mason back to Badminton last year and I hadn’t been in 17 years. I walked the course and I turned to Bobby Costello and I was like, “I don’t know if Mason can jump this big,” and he’s like, “You’re an idiot. You’ve done two five-stars on him.” He’s a very good cross-country horse. If I do my job and get him there in the right balance and rhythm, he finds his way to get through the flags.
How is it training with Betina Hoy?
Oh my God—I said that I wanted to change my pronouns to Betina Hoy. She’s amazing. I’ve been very fortunate throughout my entire career to have fantastic instruction and we’re all after the same thing. She’s so black and white about the training of the horses.
The horse I’m running tomorrow [in the CCI4*-S]—Pfun—she got on Pfun, and I love that too because she gets on them and rides them. … She got on Pfun at home and she rode him and she was like, “We’re just going to make him supple and we can improve his scores that way.” We had a conversation and she goes, “A lot of people would get on a horse like [Pfun] and crank and pull and make him, because he doesn’t have a big trot. But I can teach this horse to trot bigger.”
[PFun’s] stiffness has given him a career—he’s been doing the FEI for 13 years and he’s been going Advanced since 2015. She said, “His stiffness is what has kept him sound,” and I thought that was such an awesome comment.
What did you think of Derek di Grazia’s CCI5* course?
[Mason] is such a machine on cross country. But, Derek—he’s so tricky and it’s so fair for the horses, but it’s so easy to go wrong. I think I went to plan A at the Normandy Bank and I went to plan A at the last combination. But everything else … the first combination I went to plan B, the coffin kind of took me by surprise. I had to get gritty in there. The margin of error is so slim. You walk [the course] and you think, “Okay, it’s right there,” but “right there” is like Simone Biles trying to do the beam on that rope. The margin of error is so small and I’m not sure Simone Biles could do that.
How did Mason feel out on course?
He felt great and he cooled out really well. He did get a little bit tired at the end, which is a bit of a foreign feeling for me with him, but he’s so gritty. He was just great. He was super excellent.
Why did you decide to retire PFun?
When he started out, he was going great. [But] he’s 16 years old, and when a 16 year old goes up to the edge of a big drop and says, “I don’t want to jump down there,” I think, “Yeah, your feet might be hurting, the ground’s a little bit hard, he could have been stinging.” I’m not going to go around if [that’s the case]. I’m not going to punish his legs.
When he stopped, I kind of kicked him, and he was like, “I don’t really want to,” and I’m like, “Fine, bud. That is totally cool. We’ll go back and you can have carrots and you can cheer [Mason] on.”
I actually think he was real weird this morning. I think he thought he was going to have to go for a long time. And, for whatever reason, he said, “I don’t want to jump off this big drop,” and I said, “Well, you don’t have to. I’m not going to beat you around here.”
How was Mason’s show jumping round?
Great. He’s not the easiest to show jump. He didn’t feel like he did anything yesterday, he was just full of run. I know this is his fourth five-star, but he’s still actually quite green. I think if I counted it up … this is his 15th Advanced event, but he’s still green. His first two five stars, there were no crowds (due to COVID-19). I think the last piece of the puzzle is that he’s still in that greenness—when he gets into a combination, he kind of looks through the rails of it. I was really proud of him at 3AB, a combination that early on, and I knew the time was tight. I thought he jumped into the triple great, and then I think he kind of looked, “Oh, there’s a third one,” and just barely touched it. But, you know, what a horse. I’m thrilled.
What are your upcoming plans with Mason?
I would love to take him to Burghley [Horse Trials]. We’ll get him home and he’ll have a very quiet month. He’ll come [home] this week and go on the walker. After my big events, we always do—10 to 12 days after they finish—a big vet check. I like to, with these guys, do a bone scan. I just think it gives you a good road map to help them and to be proactive going forward. So, he’ll have that and then we’ll make a plan accordingly. I’d love to take him to Burghley.
Thanks to Kent Nutrition Group and Blue Seal for our coverage of the 2023 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, including rider interviews, competition reports, horse spotlights, photos, videos and more!