Jenna: These equitation finals are not just a brief portion of your life that are left behind only to be reminisced. Often times, they can truly make an impact on a person’s life. How do you think these equitation finals left their mark on you?
Nick: If I were to use one word to illustrate the mark equitation and these national finals left on me, it would be tenacity. The ability to remain persistent on the goals I set for myself in equitation has translated directly into my scholastic and professional career. Beyond the physical endurance required during the two months encompassing these finals, there was a very necessary mental fortitude. Ultimately, these conditions left me with a more determined attitude about the challenges I take on in my life outside of the equestrian world.
Jenna: If you were to do it again, would you change anything or do anything differently?
Nick: There is not a noteworthy part of my Triple Crown experience I would change. I made the conscious decision before my 16-year-old year to have it be my last due to the impeding aspect of college life that would come in my 17-year-old year. This choice gave me a real peace of mind that ultimately helped my horse and me throughout the year. Prior to the finals that year, I was already highly content with my equitation career and what I had accomplished with my incredibly talented horse — the Triple Crown was icing on the cake. As for a word of advice from this, I would say that the finals will be much easier to mentally handle if you recognize and appreciate the aspects you have control of while remaining stoic about the rest.
Jenna: What were some of your greatest memories while competing in equitation?
Nick: My reserve title in the UPHA Junior Challenge Cup during my first year out of equitation with my first horse, Oh What a Feeling, will always be memorable for me. He would consistently test my abilities, but he always had a way of pulling through for me when I needed him to. Beyond that, winning my age group at Louisville and taking reserve in the UPHA Challenge Cup with Coco Mojo in his 4-year-old year was incredible. As mentally grueling as the finals are for the riders, it is undeniably more difficult for such a young horse, and Mojo pulled through remarkably. Any class with him was just as rewarding as the last. I will absolutely never forget the moment I came back up the ramp of Kemper after my last pattern with Mojo, knowing we had just concluded our extraordinary journey together.
Photos owned and provided by Melissa Maupin