Erin Nichols, the double gold medalist of the 2022 North American Young Riders Championships, won big at the 2022 CDI-W Thermal on 16 - 18 December 2022. Over the three-day show, the 19-year-old scored two personal bests on her long-time mount Handsome Rob AR and had an incredible first U25 outing on new ride, Elian Royale, as well.
“It was a great weekend,” Nichols reflected. “We had two personal bests in the Young Riders and we had a really good freestyle this morning. It was my debut first ever time competing at the U25 with Elian. To have three judges over 70 percent the first time out was super exciting. I’m always learning and getting more experienced getting feedback from high level judges.”
On Friday aboard the 10-year old KWPN bred Handsome Rob AR (by Charmeur x Don Schufro), Nichols, of Yorba Linda, CA, earned a new personal best of 70.838% in the Young Riders Team. Saturday, aboard Elian Royale, she earned another personal best for the Short Grand Prix of 67.359% and in the Intermediate II of 69.353%.
Saturday also saw a new personal best for Nichols in the Young Riders Individual, scoring a 70.000% with Handsome Rob AR. She capped off the weekend with a win in theYoung Riders Freestyle with Handsome Rob AR, earning a score of 72.915%.
“I’ve had ‘Rob’ since he was 5 years old and he was doing First Level,” she said of the now 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. “I brought him up the levels myself with my coaches. We went to the European tour in May and won double gold at NAYC this past year, so it’s been a really awesome year with him. To know I brought him up from the beginning is really special to me.”
The KWPN bred Elian Royale (by Johnson x Amidou) is a newer mount for Nichols, but they’ve been progressing well through the levels and debuted at the U25 level at Thermal.
“We purchased Elian in July on the European tour,” she continued of the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. “He was trained up to the Grand Prix level showing in Europe. This was our third show together as a pair so we’re still figuring each other out and seeing how he is at the horse shows. Hes’ a new mount but we’ve created a great bond so far.
Elian Royale has been American owned for little less than a decade. The horse made its international show debut in 2017 in Sacramento, where German Dirk Glitz piloted the horse for owner Kimberly Noon-Fishel. In 2020 Glitz and Elian appeared on the national show circuit in Germany, where they competed at Grand Prix level until April 2022.
In July of this year the chestnut sold to Nichols' company "Premiere Sport Horses" and they had their CDI debut at Young riders level in Thermal in November and moved him up to U25 a month later.
Nichols is a rider of many talents and she’s put not only her dressage skills to the test at DIHP, but also her jumper skills.
“I have been coming to Desert International Horse Park since 2016 at the jumper level. I’ve seen all the improvements they’ve made, and it’s incredible. The environment they’ve created is absolutely gorgeous and it creates such a beautiful background for every moment. I really appreciate them creating such lovely dressage shows in California,” Nichols concluded.
Having CDI competition in Nichols’ home state has been huge in developing her riding at the international level.
“It definitely helps with confidence to gain experience, taking every ride as a learning opportunity and thinking about the highlights and how we can improve,” she said of her performance this weekend. “It was a great weekend overall.”
Text by Tori Bilas, edited by Eurodressage - Photos © Terri Miller - screenshot
Scores: 2022 CDI-W Thermal
Erin Nichols Makes it Double Gold at the 2022 North American Young Riders Championships
Erin Nichols on Handsome Rob AR Wins Individual Test Gold at 2022 North American Young Riders Championships
Americans Peer and Nichols Take Measure of Europe at 2022 CDIO Compiegne