"Without the horse, I'm nothing in my job,"
English based New Zealand eventer, Andrew Nicholson was named an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit on Monday.
Representing New Zealand for more than 30 years, Nicholson at 56, has fashioned a body of work that any of his peers would die for, including seven Olympics Games over 28 years, three Olympic medals and a 1990 team world championship title. He's a five-time winner at Burghley, one of the world's top equestrian events, and proved his enduring ability with a maiden victory at Badminton just last year.
"I'm very, very proud and very honoured. To be given that is quite something, isn't it? I'm very satisfied and I realise how lucky I am to have a job that most people spend a fortune on, just to call it their hobby."
Speaking in tribute to his horses, Nicholson said,
"I appreciate them, I respect them. They're far more intelligent than a lot of people give them credit for. Even a lot of horse people don't realise how intelligent they are, they're very trainable."
Avebury and Nereo.
"Nereo has always stood out for me," said Nicholson.
"Avebury was a pretty grey and always looked very happy with life, and he was a pleasure to work with."
"Nereo is a bit more raw and rangier, possibly not as handsome, but he always felt like he was giving you 110 percent.
"Whether I took him to the Olympics Games or world championships, Badminton or Burghley, he felt like he would just give you his mind and his body. To do that year after year is quite something."
Nereo was retired after last month's 2018 Badminton event, but can still be found giving loyal service, now to Nicholson's teeange daughter.
"He looks as happy as can be and she's just beaming," said Nicholson. "It's great to see.
Avebury had been receiving palliative care for a malignant tumour in his jaw, which was diagnosed only a few weeks ago. He was euthanised on Tuesday.
The 16-year-old, who won the Burghley CCI4* three times from 2012 to 2014, was retired from eventing in April. The tumour developed very rapidly, and as there was no appropriate treatment for this type of tumour and the difficult decision was made to put him to sleep.
Avebury was bred by Nicholson, whose children gave him his stable name, 'Buddy'.
Andrew and his wife, Wiggy said: “We were deeply shocked at the rapid progression of the cancer, as only a few weeks ago he was thoroughly enjoying being ridden by Lily in his retirement.
“Our only relief is that we were able to ensure he did not suffer, and were able to make the right decision in the interests of his welfare – which has always been our absolute priority.
“He has been part of our family for a very long time and has given Andrew some of the greatest days of his career. He will be deeply missed.
Cottesmore Leap Burghley 2011
In 2011 Andrew and Avebury were 10th at Badminton and eighth at Burghley, and in 2012 they scored the first of their multiple victories in the CIC3* at Barbury Castle and at Burghley.
...at Burghley in 2012 and Barbury in 2015.
Burghley Lake, 2014.
In 2015, the pair took their fourth Barbury Castle CIC3* win and were preparing for an attempt at a fourth consecutive Burghley triumph when Andrew suffered a fall at Gatcombe from another horse which broke his neck and finished his season.
Avebury’s only run in 2016 was at Great Witchingham in March, which he won. Since then, he has hacked out at home and in the summer holidays Andrew and Wiggy’s children, Lily and Zach, enjoyed riding him.
Barbury Owl Hole, 2014
He has been buried in the garden at his home at Westwood Stud.
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Isn't it great when we can enjoy tributes to a superstar horse as he retires from competition sound and well.
"... he just doesn't quite feel like he used to and, as he owes us nothing, we thought it better to stop now." said New Zealand eventer, Andrew Nicholson.
Avebury, the sixteen year old grey gelding AKA Buddy, was bred by Andrew and owned by Mark and Rosemary Barlow who say that he will continue to live at Westwood, the Nicholson's stud near Marlborough - a home he knows and loves.
“He has a cheeky side to him, but whenever you walk into the yard, he’s happy to see you,” said Andrew.
“He loves his work and is very bubbly about everything. He’s still naughty to catch in the field — he gallops around squealing, but as soon as it rains, or he thinks something might be happening without him, he runs up and down the fence line yelling to be brought in.”
What a character!
Though the famous owl hole at Barbury
Avebury accumulated a staggering 2,113 British Eventing points in his career. He won 27 times including at his last outing at Great Witchingham early this season. He achieved a hat trick of wins at Burghley in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and made his 'local' event at Barbury Castle his own, winning 4 consecutive CIC3* titles.
Here's wishing Buddy a long and happy retirement.
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