Maggots, Mars bars and marriage: nine things you didn’t know about US Olympian Lauren Nicholson

  • Lauren Nicholson (née Kieffer) is one of the US’s leading event riders, with an Olympic appearance and a runner-up placing at five-star to her name. We find out a bit more about her…

    1. Lauren’s first horse was called Snooze Alarm. She started riding the Anglo Arab when she was 13 and took him all the way up to five-star level.

    2. One of her current top horses, Vermiculus, is Snooze Alarm’s full-brother. Snooze Alarm’s stable name is “Maggot”, so she chose Vermiculus’s name because it’s Latin for maggot. His stable name is Bug.

    3. Lauren has ridden at four of the world’s five-stars – Kentucky in the USA, Badminton and Burghley in Britain and Pau in France. Her best result at the top level is second at Kentucky in 2016 on Veronica, the mare she took on when Karen O’Connor was forced to retire from eventing after breaking her neck in 2013.

    4. She married an Irish cross-country course-builder, Sam Nicholson, in November 2019. For the first birthday she celebrated after she started dating him, he built her a cross-country jump.

    5. Lauren made her Olympic debut in Rio in 2016, but she didn’t complete the cross-country after she and Veronica had a fall.

    6. Lauren’s parents aren’t horsey, but she persuaded them to buy her riding lessons for her sixth birthday.

    Continued below…

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    7. Lauren Nicholson’s major owner is Jacqueline Mars, an heiress to the confectionery giant Mars’ fortune.

    8. The rider broke her back in a fall when she was 16 –her parents asked if she was scared and when she said no, they said if she was too stupid to be scared, she needed to get some proper training. This resulted in her being sent to a week-long summer camp run by David and Karen O’Connor. She then became a working student with the leading US eventing couple.

    9. Lauren was a Pan American Games team gold medallist in 2015 in Toronto on Meadowbrook’s Scarlett, finishing seventh individually.

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