Andrew the great
Equestrian legend one of four Waipa¯ Queen’s Birthday Honours recipients
New Zealand equestrian legend Andrew Nicholson has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen’s Birthday honour’s list.
The 56-year-old is one of the world’s top event riders, having represented New Zealand in equestrian sports internationally for more than 30 years.
He rode in his first Olympics aged 23 in Los Angeles in 1984 and has represented his native New Zealand in six Olympics and six world championships, winning medals of every colour.
In 1992 Andrew was a member of the silver medal winning event team at the Barcelona Olympics and won bronze in winning teams at the 1996 and 2012 Olympics.
He has competed at seven World Equestrian Games, notably being part of the gold medal winning team in 1990 and as a winner of team and individual bronze medals in 2010.
Between 1995 and 2017 he won nine International Four Star events.
A miraculous recovery after breaking his neck during the British Open Championships in 2015 enabled him to compete against all odds and win the Badminton Horse Trials in 2017.
Andrew has mentored and trained a number of New Zealand and international riders who have gone on to compete and win medals at the Olympic level.
He has provided his time and donated memorabilia to fundraising events in the Waikato region, including the Cornerstone Trust in Te Awamutu which raises funds specifically to financially support local athletes onto the world stage.
Andrew grew up on his mother’s — the late Heather Nicholson — farm at Kihikihi, now owned by his brother, world renowned equestrian course builder John Nicholson.
Andrew is an example to younger riders today that you don’t need to come from a wealthy background to make it to the top in this — or any other — sport.
In his illustrated book Focused he comments: “It’s about the work you put in, your self discipline and dedication, and being prepared to push yourself outside your comfort zone and not be frightened to make mistakes along the way.
“It’s not about winning every time. I have often learnt more from my mistakes and the bad days than those when it has all gone to plan. The experience has helped me take the next step up.”
One of the things that concerns Andrew when he watches some of the talented young riders today is that they are constantly being watched and instructed by someone.
“I think it is vital that as a rider you have the opportunity to think for yourself, and in doing so maybe make the occasional mistake,” he says. “Often things don’t go to plan and this is how you will develop the ability to react to such situations.” Andrew is often asked what still motivates him to continue?
“That’s simple really. I motivate myself,” he says. “I have never needed anyone to drive me and I am pretty stubborn and single-minded in this respect.
“The repetitive daily routine involved in training horses requires you to be selfmotivated; the competitions are the easy bit. Underlying this drive has to be the constant challenge of finding and producing the young horses, and, hopefully turning them into winners. This I love.”
Andrew moved to England as a raw 18 year old to further his equestrian career and conquered one of the most demanding sports in the world. He and his wife Wiggy and children Lily and Zach live at Westwood Stud in Lockeridge, Wiltshire where he trains the horses.
“My mother Heather taught me anything was possible in life — you just had to work hard to achieve it,” he says.
Captain Mark Phillips, who wrote the foreword for Focused was quoted saying:
“Andrew has always been a very strong rider, lean, fit and with fantastic balance, all of which contributed to his ‘Mr Stickability’ reputation.
“The Andrew of today is a very different person. His riding has improved, particularly on the flat and over the coloured poles, and if Andrew Nicholson says something today, you are a fool if you don’t listen.
“As a rider, Andrew now represents the whole package. He’s very good with his horse owners, has established a great backup team, has excellent attention to detail and gets the most out of the exceptional team of horses he has developed.”
Andrew won Waikato Regional Sportsperson of the Year in 1992 and was inducted into the Te Awamutu Walk of Fame in 2013.
FLASHBACK: Andrew Nicholson ONZM and Nereo after winning the 2017 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, the oldest horse and rider to win the prestigious event.