Nichole Smith and Pat Gillian’s Ebikur an 11-year-old Oldenburg by Epikur out of Rollette, excelled at the May Lamplight Dressage Competition to win the Mary Phelps/Markel Midwest High Point Series Award sponsored by DressageDaily’s Mary Phelps, a Markel Equine Insurance Specialist, for the FEI Division. The pair collected a second Back On Track High Point Saddle Pad in June at the IDCTA Spring show held at the Lamplight Equestrian Center. After spending the 2011 summer season in San Diego training with Steffen Peters, Smith has returned to Illinois where she operates NS Dressage in two locations in Illinois, Sandhill Farms in Batavia and Copper Ridge in Maple Park. Nichole and “Elmo” have been together since the four-year-old imported by Helmut Schrant from Germany was purchased by Pat Gillian as an “experiment” being Gillian and Smith’s first foray into young horse training. “We all learned together and had a lot of fun doing it,” said the supportive owner, who is never far from view when Ebikur is in the ring. The journey has not only been fun but rewarding. The bond, which often develops between horse and rider while on that journey, is a special one, as Nichole refers to Ebikur as her “mirror”.
People that know us and see us together everyday say he is sad and depressed if I stay away for few days or vacation,” said Nichole. “The heart of this horse is amazing! He is my mirror. If I'm upset he is, if I'm sad he is, if I have concentration in tack so does he.”
“We bought him from Helmut within a few months of import as a very green horse, said owner Pat Gillian. “I say we because, although I bought him, Nichole has been instrumental in bringing him along to his current level.
“I can remember when he was younger and more spirited my son or daughter could just come up and touch him and he would calm immediately,"Nichole recalls. "He is like a third child to me.”
Nichole and “Elmo” worked mostly on their own until he was a six-year-old when they began seeking help from several of America’s top trainers; Steffen Peters, Robert Dover, Lilo Fore and Mette Rosencrantz to name a few. As they came up the levels, two seasons in Florida in 2008 and 2009 produced multiple wins and in 2010 The pair qualified for the Developing Horse Championships, ranking 8th nationally, and 4th nationally overall for Intermediare 1. This will be their last season in the Intermediare I, as they are now training all the Grand Prix movements.
The accomplishments are only one part of the rewarding journey for Nichole Smith, who works hard teaching and training out of the two locations in Illinois, as well as raising her young family. “I am so lucky to have an owner who has let me take this horse all over the U.S. and has been so supportive in helping this horse and myself be the best we can be.”
“We love showing at Lamplight!” added Pat Gillian. “It is a first class facility and so close to home!”
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