ph. Starting Gate Communications
Two years ago today, one of the greatest modern show jumping horses passed away in the ring of the World Cup in Verona, Italy. After completing his final course he would ever ride with Canada’s Eric Lamaze, Hickstead suffered a ruptured aorta and passed away surrounded by those he loved and those who admired this incredible animal for his extraordinary heart and incredible gift to tackle any challenge on the international stage. Hickstead left the sport a titan, he passed away in the international ring next to Eric Lamaze and his groom Delfine Roustan. He left the world of show jumping as a phenomenon and loved by all.
Winning more then any other horse in modern show jumping, Hickstead left this world at the height of his career, with a long list of accomplishments including ‘Best Horse’ at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky and an Individual Olympic Gold medal. Hickstead’s story of success is one that can only be given justice in movie theaters. Those within the sport still speak about this incredible animal with tremendous respect, awe and excitement, as though we were all privileged to have witnessed the incredible rise of this amazing athlete, and we were.
Eric Lamaze was known on the international circuit but it was with Hickstead that both horse and rider rose to true international acclaim. It was with Hickstead that Eric Lamaze was able to touch the very pinnacle of international show jumping and feel that subtle essence of immortality by being the ranked the number one rider in the world.
Bred in the Netherlands by Jan van Schijndel, Hickstead and Lamaze began their partnership in 2004. Under Eric’s guidance, Hickstead emerged as one of the greatest show jumping horses of all time, winning Team Silver and Individual Bronze medals at the 2007 Pan American Games, historic Individual Gold and Team Silver medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and Individual Bronze and the title of ‘Best Horse’ at the 2010 World Equestrian Games.
Hickstead’s last major victory came on September 11, 2011, in front of 89,632 show jumping fans when he won the $1 million CN International at the Spruce Meadows “Masters” Tournament in Calgary, Alberta for the second time in his career. It marked Hickstead’s fifth consecutive appearance in $1 million CN International, having finished in the top five every single time.
At the time of his death on November 6, 2011, Hickstead had earned over $3.7 million in prize money, and had claimed several major Grand Prix titles including Calgary, AB (2007 and 2011), Geneva, SUI (2008), Aachen, GER (2010), La Baule, FRA (2011), and Rome, ITA (2011).
“It is a horse that you would have loved to retire, and give him a retirement ceremony like he deserved. But it was not meant to be” said Eric Lamaze during a Press Conference in Toronto following Hickstead’s death.
Widely acknowledged as the best show jumping horse of his era, Hickstead was inducted into the Jump Canada Hall of Fame last year. Following his death, it seemed the only title that the amazing Champion was missing.
“There have been a lot of great horses, but I think any rider in Europe or North America will concede that he was the best horse in the world. There maybe won’t be another one like him,” said Eric. “I hope all riders get a chance to experience what I experienced on such a horse. It changes your life and your career.”