Jill Novotny has a conversation with Nick Dello Joio
Originally published Fall 2013
While riders twisted and galloped their way through the grand-prix course below, I sat down with Nick Dello Joio on the second floor of the Hermès VIP viewing tent at the American Gold Cup. I was immediately struck by his relaxed yet impressive demeanor. At 23, his youthful enthusiasm made the interview comfortable and spontaneous, yet he spoke eloquently, with the poise and wisdom of a seasoned professional.
He and his father, Norman Dello Joio, the famed show-jumping Olympian, run an equestrian business in Bedford, N.Y., where Nick says they don’t get to spend much time. “We are kind of globe-trotters during the summer,” says Nick, “but when we come back, Bedford is our home.” Despite his father’s impressive career, Nick was never pressured to ride. “My parents really wanted us to find our own goals,” says Nick, “and I grew up playing football, soccer, lacrosse, and surfing. I never found riding all that interesting.”
It was only while traveling in Europe when Nick was about 14 that he tried riding and found that he actually enjoyed it. “I told my parents to be honest and tell me if they didn’t think I had a strong future ahead,” he explains. “I said that I would like to ride, and with enough hard work and time become a top-level rider, but if that was not possible, I’d rather not waste the time and money. They haven’t told me to stop yet.”
Last year in Florida, Hermès approached Nick to have him try some saddles, and asked if he would be interested in collaborating. “They had me try the Talaris saddle and asked me what I thought. They wanted to make sure I liked the product and not just the brand.”
After testing saddles and agreeing to become a brand ambassador, Nick was invited to Le Saut in Paris, where EQ first met him. He has ridden in Hermès saddles at the Hamptons, Spruce Meadows, and the Gold Cup. “Hermès is not like any other company that’s a sponsor. It’s a whole different level of quality.”
In 2010, Nick received the Maxine Beard award, which recognizes young talent and potential. He feels that his youth played a role in his growing relationship with Hermès. “It seems like they’re trying to find young riders and grow with them,” he notes, which he sees as unusual for a company with such a long and established history within the sport. “To look to the future that way, I think, is really great.”