Walking the Course: An Interview with Nicolas Hinze

In Interviews
Photo Courtesy of Brant Gamma
Photo Courtesy of Brant Gamma

Nick Hinze grew up in Strasbourg, France and rode at a local barn twice a week until he was 15. After high school, he decided to go to college in the USA so that he could finally learn to speak English. He completed his Bachelor and Master’s in Civil Engineering at Virginia Tech. He has since made a home in Virginia, where, in addition to his day job (as a civil engineer), he owns and operates Rose Garden Farm with his wife Tracy (who also has a full-time non-equine job). This is a busy and passionate power-couple indeed!

Nick is the developer of CourseWalk: The Eventer’s App. I recently had the opportunity to ask Nick a few questions about his dating and married life with an equestrian, the opportunities and challenges that he has encountered as a result, and a little about what has inspired the development of his useful, popular, and versatile app.

TH: You grew up riding, but gave it up in high school. How did your knowledge of horsemanship inform the early days of your dating relationship with your wife?

NH: When I met Tracy I hadn’t been around horses for 15 years and I actually never owned a horse before. I had pretty much forgotten everything, but I did miss riding.

I met Tracy on a hike organized by the local outdoor club. During our conversation she told me she had horses of her own. I replied that I used to ride, which she assumed meant that I had once been on a guided trail ride. Little did she know what was in store for our future.

As our relationship advanced, she tried her best to shield me from everything horses. It took months until I got to experience her first horse trial. I did manage to convince her that I actually wanted to be on a horse and that I could actually stay on. Little by little I started to ride and acquiring the appropriate riding attire.

However, this was still not satisfying, because I only got to ride her show horses when they were available. We started the process of looking for a horse for me, and I ended up purchasing a Percheron cross a few month before our engagement! This was the start of the madness.

TH: Horses are expensive. One of the biggest strains on any marriage relationship involves finances. Now that you are married, and your wife has you hooked on horses again, what strategies have you come up with to manage your money and mitigate conflict around financial decision-making?

NH: Since I have a horse of my own and I also compete in eventing on a regular basis, I think I have a better understanding on how much this sport costs and why it costs so much. The best strategy I have applied is to simply let my wife handle all the budgeting. As long as the credit card bill gets paid on time, I’m ok with that.

Sometimes conflict arises when I want to buy something non-horsey related. Mind you that what I want to buy usually costs a fraction of any equine related expense. The optimum strategy is to bring it up when a big equine related purchase is to be made: Tracy: I need this new $5,000 saddle, Me: Sure, as long as I can get this $99 AppleTV.

TH: Has your wife let you name a horse yet?

I have always wanted to name a horse “Cornichon.” This means little prankster in French slang language. Recently, Tracy acquired a horse that fits this perfectly and that will be his new show name.

TH: What is the most valuable life lesson you have learned from your wife?

Photo Courtesy of Sara Lieser
Photo Courtesy of Sara Lieser
NH: A few years ago, I purchased my current horse Patch. My wife though he could be a good prospect for me. The owner warned us that his mouth was ruined and that he was a bucker. Great. Let’s buy this 17 hand monster. At this point in time I was still a pretty green rider and I had only done a handful of Beginner Novice horse trials.

Tracy set out to get him going before I took over. It was a rough few months, but she eventually got him eventing at Novice level. It was finally my turn and I took him to a walk-trot combined test and it went reasonably well. However, a few days later he proceeded to buck me off three times in one week. Thankfully I did not get hurt, but I was ready to send him off the farm.

We had Patch looked at by a veterinarian that also does chiropractoring and acupuncture. He ended up having many back issues that needed adjusting. After a couple of sessions his turnaround was remarkable. Patch and I now compete at Training level successfully with goals to continue to move up the levels.

Don’t give up too soon on a horse with issues. Try to figure out what’s wrong first. It might be an easy fix and the horse might end up being a once in a lifetime ride.

CourseWalkAppTH: What is CourseWalk, and what inspired you to develop it?

NH: CourseWalk is an app for eventers. With CourseWalk, riders can record their cross-country course with their smartphones and review it later. The app generates an interactive map of the course showing the track, fence locations and pictures, and compulsory flags. A playback function animates the course walk by displaying the location and fence pictures along the way.

CourseWalk is now extensively used by organizers to record and print maps for their shows and by course designers when designing new courses. CourseWalk is available worldwide in the Apple App Store and the Android Google Play Store.


As an avid hiker, I always enjoyed recording my hikes with my GPS device. One day, while walking a cross-country course with my wife, I asked her if she thought riders would find it useful if they could record their cross country courses and review them on their phones. She thought it was a good idea so I set out to develop CourseWalk as a hobby project. I spent many evenings after work figuring out how to build my first smartphone app.

CourseWalk was initially designed for riders, but organizers and course designers quickly caught on and helped improve the app to fit their needs. CourseWalk CDE is also available for combined driving events.

You can follow CourseWalk on on Facebook and on Twitter @CourseWalk.

If you are a Horse Hubby with a story to tell, or know of one who you think would be interesting to feature in an upcoming story or interview, please drop me a line at the@horsehubby.com. I’d love to hear from you.

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