Featured Rider - Nick Cwick

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Nick Cwick (Part 1 of a 4 Part Series)
Black Oldenburg Gelding, 16.2 h.h., 1997
Sion x Fiola (dam sire Feiner Stern)
At the Advanced Division, in February 2008, the pair won  Ram Tap (CA), and finished 3rd at the Twin Rivers Winter Horse Trials (CA). At the March Galway Downs International Horse Trials in the CIC*** division, they were 10th. Also, in May of last year, Nick and Asterix finished 8th in the Jersey Fresh Three-Day Event CCI***. And in October, they completed the Fair Hill International CCI*** (MD), finishing 36th.

It seemed like it was going to take a lifetime for us to get here but after three years of planning, qualifying and hoping, it’s finally within our reach….Rolex! What an incredible journey Asterix and I have shared on our road to the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. I am honored to share our story with you.

Asterix "Asti" is a powerful and breathtaking 12 year old 16.2hh black Oldenburg gelding from the show jumping sire Sion and was bred for dressage out of a Feiner Stern mare. Asterix didn’t enjoy the "confinement" of dressage and gave many riders a difficult time. I took Asterix on as a sale horse in 2001 and I introduced him to three-day eventing, he loved it! His then owner Barbara Duzan, was so impressed at what Asterix would do for me, she decided that his home should be with me. For this, I am forever grateful to Barb and so our journey began…..

I started Asterix competing in June 2002. He ran his first CCI* in May 2003, his first intermediate in September 2003, we won the Galway Downs CIC** Gold Cup in March 2004 and the Galway Downs CCI** short format in November 2005. At the end of the 2005 season, I no longer had any doubts that this is what Asterix was meant to do. Together, we found his place in eventing, and he found a special place in my heart.

Since 2001, Asterix and I have been across the country from the West Coast to the East Coast twice since I left my parents home in Arizona and ventured out on my own. I first moved to Southern California to ride for a breeder & dressage rider. We were there for about 6 months when I had the incredible opportunity to be the assistant trainer for Yves Sauvignon at Oakridge Stables in Northern Nick in a Captain Phillips' Clinic @ Twin Rivers (CA). Photo: Amy CwickCalifornia. I learned so much in that year and a half about teaching and about the business. Yves and Christine knew that Asterix and I needed to be competing back east and they encouraged me to make my first attempt at moving to the East Coast. We moved out to Nathalie & Michael Pollards place in Georgia for a short time. Funding was tight and I was presented with an opportunity to train young horses for a breeder near Reno, Nevada. So off we went, back to the West. The day after Christmas in 2004, one of the young horses I was training tripped over a cross rail and I slammed the left side of my face into the frozen ground. Well, blizzard and all, my parents flew out to Reno, packed up my apartment, they kept me doped up on Vicodin in the back seat of the truck during our 2 day trek back to California to drop Asterix off with a friend. Once I knew Asterix was in good hands, we flew back to Scottsdale for my facial reconstruction surgery, which was a success thank goodness. And that’s how we found ourselves back in California! For the past 3 years I’ve been teaching and riding out of Flying Tail Farm under Dayna Lynd-Pugh. I love teaching. It is so rewarding to watch my students grow and gain confidence in their riding. It is a privilege to share in their accomplishments.

In April 2008, Asterix and I made the trek back across the country to Buck Davidson’s place before running our first CCI*** at Jersey Fresh in May…WOW! What an adrenaline rush! I never imagined how much fun that would be. Asterix, my phenomenal partner, impresses me every time we go out on course and Jersey was no exception. My goal was for us to try to finish in the top ten and we exceeded that goal by finishing 8th. The Monday after Jersey, we loaded up in Jennie Brannigans trailer and spent nearly a week on the road traveling back to California where Asti took a short, well deserved vacation.

Our next FEI competition took us to Kalispell Montana in July for The Event at Photo: Amy CwickRebecca Farm where we’ve had to scratch from the CIC3* competition for each of the prior two years for one reason or another…..we were finally on the road, healthy and fit, ready to compete at this world class event. The weather was great and the grounds were perfect. We were sitting in 4th place heading into show jumping, I felt confident that we would have a nice round, the whistle blew, and we started. Unfortunately, the whistle that blew was from a neighboring ring and we were promptly eliminated. What a disappointment that was. I don’t know, I guess The Event at Rebecca Farm is just not in the cards for Asterix and me!

The Fair Hill CCI*** was our next event in October, 2008. Although we did not place in the ribbons or even in the top 20, the event was a huge success for us as we made it around, we finished healthy and we learned a lot about each other out on that course. I am so proud of Asterix for his efforts in all that we do. He is quite the competitor. He gives me his all and he is my trusted partner and my friend. I could never replace him.

As 2008 was a year of excitement, learning and accomplishments for Asterix and me, it was also a year of bittersweet change. After much thought and deliberation, I decided to relocate from my home in California to the East Coast. We are at that point in our eventing career where we need to be closer to the 3* & 4* competitors and competitions. I am working for Buck Davidson wintering in Ocala, summering in Pennsylvania absorbing all that I can from him, learning the ropes. I am fortunate to have worked for some remarkable people throughout my career who have taught me many things about this sport that I love and that runs through my veins. Although I truly miss my friends and clients back home, I am excited to enter this new adventure building new relationships and a new client base in the heart of upper level eventing with Buck.

Of course, none of this would be possible without my support team. My parents are my number one supporters. Their vacations are spent at the horse shows. My dad shares the driving on some of my long hauls across the country and he takes care of any mechanical problems on the truck and trailer. My mom is my horse show support, cleaning tack, grooming Asti, and keeping me on schedule when I have many rides. Having a fear of horses, she learned how to enjoy taking Asterix for walks, but as he got fit, he took advantage of her at a show and that ended their walks together! She’s still quite sad about that. CWD has been a big supporter helping me with saddles, and Chanen Construction has provided some funding for us over the years. I am so thankful for all of them. I could not do this without their help.

Asterix has had some time off since Fair Hill and we just got back into work at Christmas time. We only have three events planned before Rolex, our first being the Rocking Horse Winter II H.T. at the end of January. We have a few things that we are going to focus on this spring to prepare for our run at Rolex. Asterix is a phenomenal jumper which is his strongest attribute. He is also very, very expressive in dressage but his expression can sometimes create tension. While we are working on trying to keep the expression, we are also working on trying to keep our heads together to try and stay more relaxed. My goal in cross country is to push myself past my comfort zone. We need to be quicker and sharper. We need to get to the jumps faster and get away from them faster so that we can be more up on the clock. We need to push in each discipline to allow ourselves to be more competitive this year.

Now you know a bit more about Asterix and me and here we are, 3 months away from realizing another amazing dream, and sharing our Rolex journey with you. It’s time to get back to work, so keep thinking good thoughts and Asterix and I will see you next month.

Nick & Toora O'Mahoney, Barn Manager at Oakridge Stables (Sonoma, CA). Photo: Amy Cwick

Nick Cwick

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