John Nicholson


International course-designer John Nicholson designs all the cross-country tracks at the Kihikihi International Horse Trial. He started designing at Kihikihi soon after the event first started in 1997, and has been pivotal in the growth and development of the success of the horse trial at Kihikihi. As his reputation as a course designer has grown, so too has the status of the event to the international 3-day competition that it is today.

Nicholson’s course-building flair has become a hallmark of the Kihikihi International Horse Trial. The event attracts riders from all over New Zealand and top competitors from Australia who come to test their horses and riding skills over his tracks. While safety of the horse and rider is always his primary concern, Nicholson has proved to be a master of providing new challenges and sorting out the field. His tracks are always beautifully presented, taken care of by his wife Karen and her trio of helpers who decorate and prepare every fence for the event.

On the back of Nicholson’s success as course designer, the Kihikihi International Horse Trial played host to the New Zealand round of the FEI World CupTM for 8 years, and more recently to the Senior TransTasman Teams Competition in 2012.

John is an accredited International FEI 3*/4* course designer and designs at other international events in New Zealand and overseas. These include Horse of the Year, the New Zealand National 3-Day Event Championships at Taupo as well as events in Thailand and Western Australia. He is the course designer for the 2014 Asian Games. John is also invited regularly to teach at FEI clinics for international course-designers all over the world.

“Apart from his vision and foresight, John’s real genius is in his creativeness and flair for designing the cross-country course. I am always in awe of the inspiration he has to create new fences that will accurately test both horse and rider to the maximum yet be safe and fair at the same time. It is a gift!” Mark Todd



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