June 21, 2010 — Pfizer Animal Health and American Horse Publications (AHP) presented John Nicholson with the ninth annual Equine Industry Vision Award at a ceremonial breakfast held June 18 during the AHP 2010 40th Anniversary Seminar in Lexington, Ky. Established in 2002, the Equine Industry Vision Award was the first of its kind to showcase innovation and recognize ingenuity and service across the entire equine market.
Nicholson has earned this honor for his vision and determination to make unimaginable dreams a reality. Best known for his work as the executive director of the Kentucky Horse Park and the president of the World Games 2010 Foundation, Nicholson’s leadership has been pivotal in bringing the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games to the United States.
“John Nicholson is an outstanding example of the innovation, leadership and vision that the Equine Industry Vision Award serves to recognize,” said Kathy Miranowic, Equine Marketing Manager at Pfizer Animal Health. “His fortitude to bring the Kentucky Horse Park to greatness through the World Equestrian Games and other exceptional exhibits has inspired horse enthusiasts from around the world.”
More than 14 years ago, Nicholson had the foresight to begin the process of bringing the World Equestrian Games from Europe to the United States for the first time. In September, the games, featuring 16 events, will be the largest sporting event of any kind in the U.S. in 2010 and will introduce equine sports to a whole new audience across the country.
“When we host the 2010 Games, it will be the largest sporting event ever held in Kentucky. The eyes of the world will be on our state as the games will be televised to an international audience of 500 million viewers, and our region will offer its hospitality to 300,000 visitors (700,000 tickets sold), including 2,000 journalists,” said Nicholson.”This is going to be Kentucky’s ‘day in the sun,’ and with the help of the people of our city and state, we’ll be ready to introduce the world to our unique Bluegrass culture.”
Bringing the World Equestrian Games to the Kentucky Horse Park is not the only monumental accomplishment for Nicholson. Under his leadership as the park’s Executive Director, he has helped transform the park into an unparalleled equestrian competition facility, with a new outdoor stadium which seats 7,000 and a new climate-controlled indoor arena which seats 6,000. Subsequently Kentucky is on the verge of becoming the Sport Horse Capital of the World, attracting new sport horse owners, trainers and breeders to Lexington, while introducing the state’s die-hard Thoroughbred racing fans to a whole new world of equine sports.
In addition, Nicholson has helped expand the park’s National Horse Center to a current total of 34 national, regional and state organizations. Most of these organizations had never previously coordinated their efforts or worked toward common goals to improve the industry, but through their close proximity at the park, their lobbying abilities and educational efforts have increased.
Under Nicholson’s direction the Kentucky Horse Park has created programs that give back to the industry. The park has expanded its efforts to assist homeless, abused and neglected horses of all breeds through the creation of the John Henry Memorial Equine Adoption Fair, and through a new partnership with the Kentucky Equine Humane Center in which the park accepts horses from the humane center and retrains/rehabilitates the horses to make them more adoptable.
The park also launched Horses Help a program that assists the fundraising efforts of hundreds of non-profit organizations each year. In addition, the park has recently entered into a massive conservation/energy-savings program which will become a model for horse farms and equine facilities across the country, including the installation of a revolutionary muck processing plant which will generate electricity for the park.
At the moment, Nicholson calls the Kentucky Horse Park his home, with his two sons, 11-year-old Chris and 7-year-old Colin, and their cat, Mr. Wiggles. Recently divorced, Nicholson cherishes the relationships that have helped get him to where he is.
“I am very fortunate to know that I’m where I am supposed to be. When I walk the fields of the Kentucky Horse Park, I know I’m on hallowed ground,” said Nicholson. “The intangible takes on the shape of the tangible when horses and humans connect. There is something very soulful about this place and the relationships between man and horse that are experienced every day. You can’t be on the park and not feel it; it’s other-worldly. You get a strong impression that this special bond is the result of–and still enjoys–the approval of God.”
The other finalists for this year’s Equine Industry Vision Award included Susan Harris, Michael Blowen and the late Denny Hales. Nomination information will be available in fall 2010 at the AHP website at www.americanhorsepubs.org.