Sunday, November 6, 2011
Tribute to Hickstead
Sadly this past Sunday, Hickstead, the best show jumping horse in the world, died of an apparent heart attack at a show in Italy. Hickstead was an amazing horse. Ridden by Canadian Eric Lamaze, he captured the individual gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. In 2010, Hickstead was named "Best Horse in the World" at the World Equestrian Games in the US. He won numerous world class competitions virtually always with a flawless performance. He was a beautiful dark bay Dutch warmblood stallion that Eric trained from the time Hickstead was 7 years old. Eric said of him: "He's feisty , he knows why he is out there, and he knows that knocking down a rail is not good." Feisty is a bit of an understatement - this horse was powerful, strong-willed and full of energy. I can't imagine what he must of been like to train but for sure it was challenging. But Eric found a way to get inside that horse's heart and head and together they were fabulous to watch. Hickstead would be all concentration as he went around the jumping course and his form was always perfect, every leg tucked up as much as possible over the jumps. You could see that he wanted to have a clear round. Although he was smaller than many of the other horses, he was able to beat them at speed classes. Riders around the world loved to watch Eric and Hickstead because it was such a special partnership. They were just so in synch with each other. Eric was a talented rider from the time he began riding as a young person, but he had challenges in his personal life. He used drugs for a time and struggled to keep his life on track. He came very close to being banned from the Canadian equestrian team for life, but working with Hickstead seemed to straighten things out for him . Now, he owns a training stable and is well respected in the riding community. His relationship with Hickstead helped him so much more than just allowing him to win competitions. Eric has other horses to ride and he will be part of the 2012 Olympic team, but there will never be a horse like Hickstead. If you want to watch Eric and Hickstead, you can see clips on youtube.