Many times Brendan can be found talking quickly and juggling several cases at once while Wendy is attending to a horse with Chinese medicine. But the Furlong family runs deeper than the practitioners looking after some of the best horses in the world – through the New Jersey countryside and down rivers across the country.
“Everything we do, Wendy and I in our lives, from the farming, to the horses, to fox-hunting and Wendy competing in dressage and eventing, managing the farm and running the clinic – our lives revolve around these animals and our family,” said Brendan.
|Brendan and Wendy at the 2008 Olympic Games
They have two boys, Adam and Jonny who are competitive and driven and share their parents’ relentless pursuit of success. Though their competitive lives revolve around rowing (and triathlons) not riding – they are an integral part of a strong family unit. They also all keep each other grounded.
“Dad likes to tell people that he’s never taken a day off, that’s not true – he just goes fox-hunting in the morning,” said Adam. Brendan is the Master of Foxhounds for the Amwell Valley Hounds when he has time and Wendy frequently serves as Field Master.
Adam and Jonny rode growing up, fox-hunting with their parents and competing in jumping and eventing. It was in their blood and part of what they did. But Wendy encouraged them to try rowing for a year – she rowed at Cambridge University and felt that, despite their dreams to play in the NBA, rowing might suit them more than basketball. They listened to their mother and first picked up oars at the Hun School in Princeton, NJ which they attended together.
Both Adam (now 24) and Jonny (now 21) rowed through high school, Adam went to Holy Cross where he continued for four more years and then moved to Philadelphia and enrolled in the Teach for America program earning a Master’s degree in the process. The Schuylkill River played a major part in his decision to land in Philadelphia. He competes in Half Ironman events and is training for a Full. He is now the Vice President of Furlong’s Healthy Horse – the latest innovation of B.W. Furlong and Associates.
“I think the dream exists that we will all be part of the family business – that we’ll all work together,” said Adam. “They always held us to a very high standard without making it difficult for us to be kids. We were held to a very high academic standard and we followed through – to all aspects of our lives – to our friendships and athletics too.”
Jonny is enrolled at the University of Virginia where he is a fourth year in the undergraduate program double majoring in exercise physiology and psychology while simultaneously working toward his Masters in exercise physiology. He is training for the Under-23 lightweight spot on the National Team.
“I think all the time riding as a kid has proven to be extremely valuable in our more recent competitive pursuits,” said Jonny. “It really ingrained a standard of excellence, and the work ethic necessary to achieve that level of performance. They’re totally different sports, of course, but the road to success is essentially the same. And that also carries over to all other facets of our lives. I’d say that’s the common trend for all of us: no matter what we’re pursuing, it’s the same approach: high standards and hard work.”
As Brendan and Wendy prepare to head to their fifth Olympic Games, they also manage a practice with remote locations in Florida, run a New Jersey breeding operation, train sport horses, fox hunt whenever they can and maintain a family.