Kiwi rider Andrew Nicholson remains off the country’s high performance squad as Equestrian Sport New Zealand (ESNZ) said he has “not been prepared to meet certain standards required of its squad members”.
“There is no question that Andrew is an outstanding rider, but our role is to look out for the whole team,” said ESNZ’s chief executive Vicki Glynn.
“No one member is more important than the whole, no matter who that person is or what their track record is in the sport”.
The federation said the rider has also “put a number of conditions on his reintegration into the squad which he is not prepared to move on”.
Andrew told H&H he “refutes” the recent ESNZ statment, but “has no further comment to make”.
“Currently I am only interested in focusing on my forthcoming events,” he added.
Earlier this year Andrew told H&H he was “disappointed” in his federation after being left off the high performance squad list for 2015 — despite making himself available for selection.
In October Andrew withdrew himself from the selection process until a review following the World Equestrian Games (WEG), after a reported disagreement with a team vet.
The seven-time Olympian alleged his ride Nereo was left without veterinary assistance on several occasions.
He maintains that he had to find someone to track the vet down, which led to “robust discussion and an argument”. However, he then put himself forward for team selection later in the year.
“We accepted that withdrawal, which was part of an internal agreement between ESNZ and Andrew. While Andrew more recently asked to return, in ESNZ’s view the circumstances have not changed,” said ESNZ chief executive Vicki Glynn, who added that “horse wellbeing” is always ESNZ’s “primary concern”.
However, now ESNZ said that Andrew’s behaviour at WEG, which the federation says included a “verbal and physical altercation” with the team vet, “fell far short of what is expected from members of the ESNZ team”.
They added that Andrew has since “insisted on a number of special conditions as part of his re-inclusion”.
These, say the federation, include not working with some members of the team management and being allowed to operate outside the team as an individual, which is “not feasible in a team environment”.
“Consequently this leaves no way to go forward with him in the squad at present,” continues the statement.
“The door is still open to Andrew to be a high performance squad member if he is happy to be treated like all other team members, to sign up and abide by the rules that apply to everyone and to work as part of the team. It is up to Andrew to take advantage of that so the path may be cleared for his return to the squad.”