Equestrian

Military Rider 'Over The Moon' After Prestigious Equestrian Award Nomination

Major Nicola Rush has been part of developing teams capable of competing both nationally and internationally.

A British Army officer has been nominated for a prestigious award, after the end of an equitation season quite unlike any other.

For Major Nicola Rush, the winter months present an opportunity to take stock and make sure her horse Hummer III enjoys a deserved break from competition.

As secretary for the Army Equitation Association, she had the unenviable task of processing the paperwork generated by the coronavirus pandemic, but her meticulous approach meant military riders could continue to compete.

"I've never experienced staff work and paperwork like it," Maj Rush told Forces News.

"It has been really tough and challenging but it has been worth it."

Alongside her work as a physiotherapist, being secretary means Major Rush oversees administration of the army's showjumping, eventing and dressage teams.

Her dedication to the sport has resulted in her being shortlisted for Volunteer Of The Year at this year's Horse and Hound awards. 

"It's incredible and I'm over the moon," she said.

"It was a huge surprise and a great honour."

The nomination is not just in recognition of this season's endeavours.

Maj Rush has spent the last six years developing teams in the three main equitation disciplines to the point where they can compete at a national and international level.

She admits to facing a number of obstacles along the way, however.

"It was known as a bit of an elitist sport and that you had to have a horse to get involved. We were very passionate about the fact that it shouldn't be like that.

"Let's get soldiers riding, let's get them on horses, let's get them seeing what it feels like, the therapy, the connection.

"The time you can spend with horses that benefits you physically and mentally and emotionally."

With this season now complete, the Army teams are looking forward to a brighter 2021.

Maj Rush, meanwhile, will find out if her year ends on a high when the Horse and Hound Awards are announced in December.