Freshman Equestrian Takes the Reins to Reach the Olympics


Photo courtesy of Erin Nichols

Freshman Erin Nichols trained with Olympic equestrian, Katie Prudent. Nichols was ranked number one in the United States for her divisions in both height (1.1 meters) and age 17 and under.

Nichols’ mother, Diane, rides horses so she has been riding for most of her life. She started having lessons at about three or four years old. “I started to compete and then I really started to enjoy it,” she explained. She also has her horses on her property and tends to them everyday.

Nichols described the training with Prudent as a lot of pressure. “The first couple of days she’s giving comments. She’s not trying to change it she’s trying to help you make it so you’re  practicing better.” The last day there was a team competition. “That was a lot of pressure because you want to do your best for you and your team. [Prudent] had a lot of compliments.”

Nichols participates in the two categories of show jumping and dressage. Show jumping, as Nichols described, is similar to “an obstacle course” where the mistakes are counted against you.  She explained dressage as being “based on a performance and testing your strengths and weaknesses and how well you do.”

Going to the Olympics has been a goal “for a while” for Nichols. “It’s definitely a dream of mine. I am deciding whether I want to do show jumping or dressage. They’re both very competitive and hard.”

Nichols had to compete in a certain competition and fill out an application to qualify to work with Prudent. “They accepted me based on how well I did in the last year. Learning from that experience is really quite amazing and very different from what I’m used to. They’re looking for the best from you.”

“I do show jumping because it is like an adrenaline rush.” Currently she is participating in show jumping because there are more opportunities to compete. Nichols practices five times a week ranging from 30 minutes to an hour and a half.

Equestrianism is the only Olympic sport where men and women compete as equals.“It’s a little bit like you’re competing as an individual but also it is a team sport,” described Nichols.

“It is a passion. You have to love the animal before you love the sport, the animal comes with it,” said Nichols.