In Stride Interviews

Behind the Scenes with a Five-Star Event Rider: Lauren Nicholson's Top Tips for Equestrian Success

Alina Tang

Have you ever wondered what it takes to become a successful equestrian? What are the secret ingredients that make a champion? Well, wonder no more! Lauren Nicholson, a renowned five-star event rider, spills the beans on her equestrian journey in an episode of Ride iQ’s In Stride podcast. She shares the importance of hard work, trusting your instincts, setting achievable goals, and embracing the diverse roles within the equestrian world. Here are five nuggets of wisdom from Lauren on how to truly shine in your equestrian journey.

Lauren Kieffer Nicholson rides a bay horse named VERMICULUS on cross country

1. Harness Determination

Lauren believes that a horse’s work ethic can be more valuable than its natural talent. Instead of picking horses that are flashy movers, she chooses those with a strong drive and relentless work ethic. “I find it hard to give up on a horse that tries really hard,” she confesses. “They might not end up being top-notch five-star horses, but their unfailing determination makes them invaluable.”

"You can't count on the [horses] that don't want to show up and work every day. I've had several advanced horses that weren't very gifted, but they were workhorses.”

2. Trust Your Gut

A girl in a green vest hacks a bay horse near a paddock.

Navigating the riding world can be overwhelming. There is no shortage of opinions or advice going around. Amidst the noise, Lauren advises us to trust our gut feelings. Your inner voice can guide you whether you're considering a move up or a new equine partner. Her golden rule? "Listen to what your gut is telling you."

"My recommendation that I always give the people who are struggling a little bit – I'm like, ‘What's your gut telling you? Do you dread riding them every day?’ You shouldn't have to. Your gut’s usually right.”

3. Set Ambitious Yet Realistic Goals

Dream big, but stay grounded in reality. Understand your horse's strengths and weaknesses and set goals that match both your aspirations and your horse's potential.

"You have to be realistic with what you have," Lauren says. "Sometimes, you need to accept that your horse may not reach the lofty goals you set. And that's okay."

4. Celebrate Differences

Every horse and rider is unique. Each role in the equestrian world, from training young horses to competing at elite levels, is equally important. Respect and value everyone's path because every role plays an important part in the equestrian ecosystem. Foster your unique strengths and aspirations with confidence!

“There are a lot of five star riders that can't produce a young horse and vice versa. You have your young horse producers and you have your team people. You know, it doesn't need to be one better than the other.”

5. Remember the Joy in Riding

A girl with a ponytail and a helmet rides a chestnut horse in a navy saddle pad.

Amidst all your aspirations for excellence, don't forget the simple joy of riding. Balance your pursuit of high performance with the sheer delight of being in the saddle.

"This is supposed to be the fun part," Lauren reminds us. "Are you having fun? If not, it might be time to ask yourself if it's because you're not riding the right horse."

Lauren's journey highlights the importance of hard work, intuition, and setting realistic goals. By choosing horses based on their work ethic and determination, she has enjoyed incredible success in the equestrian world. Her insights remind us that trusting our instincts, celebrating one another, and finding joy in riding are all parts of a fulfilling equestrian journey.

Want to learn more?

You can listen to the full conversation with Lauren and all the other In Stride guests on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.

In Stride is brought to you by Ride iQ, a mobile app with hundreds of listen-while-you-ride audio lessons taught by top coaches. Download the app on iPhone or Android and start your 2-week free trial today!

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