Verona, Italy – Hickstead, the horse that Canada’s Eric Lamaze rode to the Individual Gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, has died at the age of 15.
Lamaze of Schomberg, ON, and Hickstead were competing in the World Cup Grand Prix in Verona, Italy, on Sunday, November 6. Upon completion of their round, the pair were walking out of the arena when Hickstead collapsed and died. An autopsy to confirm the cause of death will be performed. At the request of the riders, the organizers did not continue the competition. A moment of silence was held out of respect.
“We finished our round, I circled and was leaving the ring, and he collapsed and died of an apparent heart attack,” said an emotional Lamaze. “It is the most tragic thing that has ever happened. We had him until he was 15, and we had a great time together. He was the best horse in the world. We are all devastated.”
Under Lamaze, Hickstead’s accomplishments in the sport of show jumping were incomparable. The pair’s last major victory came on September 11 in front of 89,632 show jumping fans when they won the $1 million CN International for the second time in their career at the Spruce Meadows “Masters” Tournament in Calgary, AB.
Lamaze had ridden Hickstead, a 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by John Fleischhacker’s Ashland Stables and Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stable, since the horse was seven. Hickstead earned more than $3 million in prize money during his career and was widely acknowledged as the best show jumping horse of his era.
In addition to winning Individual Gold and Team Silver medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Lamaze and Hickstead earned Individual Bronze at the 2010 World Equestrian Games and Team Silver and Individual Bronze at the 2007 Pan American Games. They won several major grand prix titles in the sport of show jumping, including Calgary (2007 and 2011), Geneva (2008), Aachen (2010), La Baule (2011), and Rome (2011).
Bred by Jan van Schijndel, Hickstead (Hamlet – Jomara x Ekstein) was born March 2, 1996, in The Netherlands. Lamaze purchased Hickstead in 2004.
Photo: Olympic Champions Eric Lamaze and Hickstead. Photo Credit – Cealy Tetley, www.tetleyphoto.com