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Lauren Nicholson (née Kieffer): from ‘barn rat’ to Olympic eventer *H&H Plus*

Ellie Hughes talks to the bubbly leading American event rider about being the “barn rat”, her competition demons and earning her place in the spotlight

“AN interview for Horse & Hound; that means I’ve made it, right?” writes Lauren Nicholson (née Kieffer), signing off with a winking emoji at the end of our email exchange to arrange a time to talk.

Currently ranked seventh in the world, the bubbly, easy-going American is her country’s leading event rider at the moment. And if results at the highest level are a yardstick to go by – in the past four years, she has ridden three different horses at 10 CCI5*-Ls and finished in the top 10 five times and the top 20 a further two times – she has most certainly earned her spread in the spotlight.

As we chat online a week or so later, Lauren, clad in light-coloured breeches and a dark baseball cap, is busy polishing bridles in the tack room of the yard in Virginia where she is based with Olympians-turned-revered trainers, David and Karen O’Connor.

The eventing calendar in the United States is back in full swing (albeit with its pandemic permutations) and Lauren – now sporting a new name after marrying Irish course-builder Sam Nicholson last November – has recently returned from The Plains, where she put in good performances in the CCI4*-S with two of her top string, Vermiculus and Paramount Importance.

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This interview was published in full in H&H magazine, issue date 29 October 2020

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