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June 29, 2004

CW's Richard Nicoll named one of the world's top equestrian officials

Richard Nicoll, director of Colonial Williamsburg’s Coach and Livestock department, has been appointed to one of the top equestrian officiating positions in the world. He has been elected to the prestigious three-year post of chairman of the Driving Committee for Federation Equestre Internationale, the international governing body of equestrian sport recognized by the International Olympic Committee. Nicoll’s election came at the FEI General Assembly Meeting this spring in Paris.

“I feel very privileged to have been elected to this position,” Nicoll said. “For my career this is a great honor because I am only the second person from the United States to hold this position. It also is a wonderful way to share what we do at Colonial Williamsburg. I’ve really become an ambassador for the foundation and its educational mission.”

Nicoll has been heavily involved in the sport of driving since 1973, shortly after Britain’s Prince Phillip founded the sport in the late 1960s. Driving is any combination of dressage (freedom and regularity of paces, harmony, lightness and ease of movement, impulsion and the correct positioning of horses on the move), the marathon (tests fitness and stamina of horses and the judgment of pace and horse control by the driver) and obstacle driving (tests fitness, obedience and suppleness of horses after the marathon and skill and competence of the driver). Nicoll has been officiating since the mid-1970s when he designed his first course in New Jersey. He continues to design courses and also serves as a technical delegate who ensures that international equestrian competitions are run by the rules. Nicoll is currently designing a world-championship course for singles horses’ competition scheduled for July 2004 in Astorp, Sweden.

FEI establishes rules and regulations for the conduct of international equestrian events in jumping, dressage, eventing, driving, vaulting and endurance riding disciplines. This includes the supervision and maintenance of the health and welfare of the horses. The organization, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, was formed in 1921 and includes approximately 132 member countries.

The Driving Committee oversees all driving competitions around the world at international or Olympic level events, though driving is not an Olympic level sport. Rules made by the committee apply to all lower-level driving events as well. Members of the committee include two representatives from Sweden and one each from Great Britain, Germany and the United States.

Nicoll began his career at Colonial Williamsburg in 1984 as manager of the Coach and Livestock department. In 2000, he was named director of the department, where he oversees the various domesticated animals used throughout Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area programs, including the popular horses that pull the foundation’s authentic 18th-century carriages. Nicoll also runs Colonial Williamsburg’s award-winning Rare Breeds program, begun in 1986 to preserve genetic diversity in livestock. Some of the selected breeds represent animals that could have been present in Williamsburg during the 18th century, according to historical research.

Media Contact:
Lorraine C. Brooks
(757) 220-7280