Will Faudree is no stranger to making a comeback. And given the comebacks he’s made in the past—from a brain injury in 1999, a barn fire in 2004 and a broken neck in 2015, for example—his most recent return, from a shattered foot sustained in a cross-country fall last summer, may seem minor by comparison.
But when he heads to Grand-Prix Eventing at Bruce’s Field (South Carolina) this weekend with his top two five-star eventing horses, Pfun and Mama’s Magic Way, it will be just his second advanced outing after a winter spent first healing and then primarily at horse shows, building skills in the dressage and jumper rings.
Recently, Faudree jumped out of his comfort zone in his first futures prix at the World Equestrian Center-Ocala (Florida), piloting Jennifer Mosing’s Pfun around the 1.40-meter Buckeye Nutrition Futures Prix on Jan. 27 as part of his winter prep for the 2023 eventing season.
“Going into that stadium that night under the lights jumping around that big of a track, it was intense, but it was good,” he said. “I got a lot from it. It does set you up for the season.”
Jumper classes also give the older Irish Sport Horse (Tadmus—Celerina), a veteran five-star eventer, another athletic outlet.
“He’s 16 this year; I’m not going to try and do another five star on him,” Faudree said. “He’ll do the four-star shorts, and I’d like to go in and do some more big classes like that [the Futures Prix] because I think he had a really good time, too.”
It was the first time Faudree spent a week at the Ocala venue showing at the upper levels in the jumper divisions, and he thought it was a good addition to the program for the eventers he took, including his other five-star horse, Mama’s Magic Way, and younger horses Etna and Reloaded, the latter of whom won a 1.10-meter class.
“If you make a mistake, you can go in another class,” said Faudree. “You’re there to practice and get experience, so when they go into a final phase in Kentucky [at the Land Rover Kentucky CCI5*-L] they’ve been in those big atmosphere arenas. Plus the technicality of the course is good prep.”
Back From A Broken Foot
Faudree’s 2022 season ended prematurely after a fall cross-country at Great Meadow International Horse Trials (Virginia) in late August. The fall from Reloaded left Faudree with a shattered bone in his foot that took a long time to heal. He tried riding at Morven Park (Virginia) at the beginning of October but had to withdraw—while leading the CCI4*-S division on Pfun—after show jumping two horses, as he couldn’t continue with the pain and swelling in his foot. He later discovered his foot was broken in a second place from the August fall.
After fully healing, Faudree got back to eventing in Ocala in late January. He made his return to advanced at Pine Top (Georgia) last weekend, where he won the advanced division with Mama’s Magic Way. The 12-year-old Hanoverian (Mighty Magic—Straightaway) owned by Jennifer Mosing has been doing dressage and jumper shows but had not evented since tackling Badminton (England) last May.
“He’s a very excited, exuberant horse,” Faudree said of “Mason.” “Especially at the start of the season it takes him a little bit to get settled.”
Gearing Up For Grand-Prix Eventing
Faudree, who is based at Gavilan Farm in Hoffman, North Carolina, said he’s looking forward to competing in the Grand-Prix Eventing at Bruce’s Field, coming up Friday and Saturday in Aiken, South Carolina. He plans to run all three phases with Pfun, while Mason will only do a combined test in light of having run last weekend at Pine Top.
“The goal is to go there and present a picture that hopefully can pose on a podium,” said Faudree, who will be making his third appearance in the Grand-Prix Eventing showcase.
Later this month, Faudree will be headed to the Carolina International (North Carolina), where he plans to run Pfun in the CCI4*-S. The event also will serve as a prep for Mason, who Faudree is aiming toward a return trip to the Land Rover Kentucky CCI5*-L in April.
Faudree anticipates what he characterizes as a “bit of a quiet year.” He doesn’t have a horse that would be a contender for the Pan American Games, which are being held in October in Chile. However, heading to Europe is a possibility as, if selected, he would be game to ride Pfun in the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany (June 24-July 3).
“I’ll just focus on the horses I have and bringing them up the levels and getting them really solid,” he said. “With the two big guys, we’ll keep working away trying to be as competitive as we can be.”