US eventer Will Coleman and his horse Chin Tonic have received a $25,000 grant from the United States Equestrian Team (USET) Foundation.
As the recipient of the 2022 Connaught Grant, Coleman, of Gordonsville, Virginia, will be able to use the funds to support further competition and training with Chin Tonic with the aim of riding for the United States on the international stage.
Each year, the USET Foundation administers up to $25,000 to a CCI1* or CCI2* horse in the US that is seen as a potential candidate to represent the country at international level. The Connaught Grantwas established by Caroline Moran in memory of her friend, the late R. Bruce Duchossois, who was passionate about encouraging the development of eventing horses in the United States. The grant is named after the famous eventing horse Connaught, who was owned by Duchossois and ridden by Phillip Dutton.
Coleman, who represented the U.S. at the 2012 London Olympic Games and the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina, is on US Equestrian’s Eventing High Performance 2021 Pre-Elite Training List.
He said winning the grant was a tremendous honor, “primarily because of who it represents and the horse it represents”.
“Bruce Duchossois was such a generous person and an incredibly supportive horse owner for Phillip Dutton for so many years. He was the backbone for Phillip as well as for horse shows and equestrian endeavors around the country. He supported the community in such a humble way, and I always had a tremendous amount of respect for him. I genuinely enjoyed the times I got to be around him, so I’m very honored for this horse to be recognized.”
Chin Tonic, a nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding, is owned by Hyperion Stud and Vicky Castegren, who bought him as a two-year-old colt.
“He’s an incredible athlete, and he is a testament to patience,” Coleman said. “We’ve been taking our time with him and allowing him to develop physically and mentally. I’m really pleased with the horse he’s become. There’s still another level to be attained so we still have work to do, and the Connaught Grant will be hugely helpful in that regard.”
For Coleman, grants have allowed him to gain international experience over the years. “The grants are a huge benefit to horses and riders,” he said. “If you’re lucky enough to get one, they’re a bonus and something that emboldens you to do the country and do the U.S. team proud. My team and I are all very, very appreciative of the grants.”
Coleman, who made history as the first American to win CCIO4*-S at CHIO Aachen in September 2021 with Off The Record, a 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse, has no plans to rest on his laurels with any of his horses.
“I’m very humbled by the win at CHIO Aachen, and I’m anxious to keep working and keep getting better,” he said. “I love producing horses. I’d love to get some other ones, maybe a horse like Chin Tonic, that can go back there and do as well as Off The Record.”