Nicole first spotted the rhinestone bands at Blueberry Hill, a mobile tack shop based out of Schomberg, ON, and was inspired to purchase them to jazz things up a bit in the ring. She commented, “Although our sport is very traditional, a little bling can be fun!”

Nicole Walker Adds a Bit of Sparkle to the Lima 2019 Pan American Games

Nicole Walker of Aurora, ON, always includes a “bling braid” featuring red and black rhinestone bands for important grand prix competitions.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Nicole Walker

The red and black colours of the bands have special significance for Nicole – as well as representing Canadian team spirit, they are the colours of Nicole’s home barn, Adena Springs in Aurora, ON. It’s a subtle effect that carries a lot of meaning, and one that doesn’t even register on Falco van Spieveld’s radar when Nicole’s groom, Emily Hayden, slips the bands on a braid high on the bay’s crest close to his bridle.

Nicole Walker Adds a Bit of Sparkle to the Lima 2019 Pan American Games

The braids are put in by Nicole’s groom, Emily Hayden, shown giving some love to her charge, Falco van Spieveld.
Photo Credit: Mackenzie Clark

“Falco is a very easy horse to work with,” said Nicole of the braiding process. “He loves pampering and treats, so a combination of the two gets his game face on.”

In addition to the bling braid, Falco van Spieveld sometimes sports a charm on his bonnet that is emblazoned with the slogan, “Bounce Back” – a gift from Nicole’s friend and fellow show jumper, Kerrigan Brown. Nicole explained, “It is actually a slogan from a rap song, but means that if something goes wrong, you must recover and overcome. Kerrigan has one for her horse, too.”

Nicole’s top horses have sported these pieces of flair for important grand prix competitions across North America, including Falco van Spieveld’s double-clear rounds that contributed to Canada’s win at the $400,000 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Canada at Thunderbird Show Park in Langley, BC, in June 2019.

Nicole concluded, “I’m not a very superstitious person, but if the bling works then we are happy to keep it!”

Nicole Walker Adds a Bit of Sparkle to the Lima 2019 Pan American Games

Can you spot Falco van Spieveld’s bling braid in this photo? Hint: Emily always puts them close to the bridle.
Photo Credit: Dallis Schlitz

Make sure to catch the bling braid in action when Nicole and Falco van Spieveld take on the Lima 2019 Pan American Games, and support the Canadian Show Jumping Team’s quest for gold by donating to the #RidetoLima Fundraiser at

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