Aussie Nicholas Fyffe Living & Competing in USA
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
An Australian riding a Spanish horse for an American owner. The rider is Nicholas Fyffe and he has made a home and building a reputation for himself after arriving in the United States less than two years ago via equestrian powerhouse Germany.
Nicholas was spotlighted at probably the best-attended dressage show in the U.S.–Dressage at Devon on Main Line Philadelphia that attracts 5,000 spectators who turn the competition arena into a dance floor for humans after the equines have made their moves in the Saturday night Freestyle in the Fall.
Aboard Sentimiento I, a 12-year-old gray Pura Raza Español stallion (Cautivo XIII x Taladora III x Hedio) owned by baby food heiress Tamara Gerber, he placed sixth in the World Cup Grand Prix on 67.085 per cent and seventh with a score of 70.500 per cent in the Freestyle. A start to the Freestyle late by several minutes although it was a World Cup qualifier, significantly affected the warmup and ride.
It was only their second CDI and fourth show together, the first CDI just two weeks earlier at Saugerties, New York, a couple of hours north of the Big Apple.
And the American CDIs were the first the 30-year-old had ridden at Grand Prix since a competition Down Under a decade ago.
He is one of a tiny group of Australian dressage riders based in the globe’s winter equestrian capital of Wellington, Florida, but the three of them–Ilse Schwarz and Kelly Layne are the other two, both married to Americans–are enough to put together a team for the only Nations Cup outside Europe. In 2012, the event was small tour but in 2013 all three Aussies could have Grand Prix mounts for the team competition that will be a unique International Equestrian Federation (FEI) sanctioned event of teams of mixed big and small tour horses.
Nicholas moved from the Sydney area more than two years ago, first to Germany for six months and then to the United States where he hooked up as an assistant to Wellington-based Israeli trainer Oded Shimoni, who rode American-owned horses at the 1998, 2002 and 2012 World Equestrian Games.
He worked with Oded for more than a year and “loved it.”
“I still seek Oded’s opinion and advice and have lots of respect for him as a trainer,” he said.
It was while working for Oded that he began riding Sentimiento whom Tamara had in training with the Israeli.
When Nicholas moved to Canada for the summer with David Marcus, Tamara sent the horse with him. He went to Lexington, Kentuky to coach David’s Yong Riders at the North American Championships in July and then went to the Olympics in London where David was on the Canadian dressage team.
“i love the horse,” Nicholas said of Sentimiento. “He’s very honest and very reliable. I have a lot of confidence in him.”
The relationship with Sentimiento is still developing, he said, and more time is needed to improve the connection.
As an owner, Tamara is very hands on as she is with other aspects of her life that include animal welfare and handicapped riding programs.
“The horse is perfectly managed and doesn’t want for anything,” Nicholas said.
“Tamara is very, very supportive of me and that gives me a lot of confidence as a rider because i have a lot of confidence in the horse. I’m grateful for that support.”
Sentimiento has a fan club and Nicholas riding the horse has led to another P.R.E. horse being assigned to him for training.
In Canada he is asked about P.R.E.s and although he does not profess to be an expert has become an enthusiastic advocate for the breed.
Nicholas enjoys life in Wellington that, he said, has high quality horse sport similar to Europe “but is balanced by access to a great lifestyle.”
“It’s important for me to have access to the lifestyle as well as top sport,” he said.
“I’m very, very lucky.”
“The opportunity I have now is one that some people wait a lot longer for, and some never get it. I’m trying to make the most of it.”
Nicholas heads back to Florida in December for the winter circuit of 11 CDIs from January through mid-April.
“I just want to develop consistency and get the scores higher and higher, to develop a partnership and see where it takes us.”
He describes life in America as “my future.”
“In the back of my head, though, I will want to go back to Australia eventually.”