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Celebrating the Life of a Champion

Posted on 11/07/11 11 Comments

A great Canadian Olympian died suddenly yesterday, much to the shock of not just the Canadian equestrian world, and not just the fans of horse sport, but to the fans of sport and underdogs everywhere.  Eric Lamaze great horse Hickstead died suddenly after finishing a round in Italy.

Eric and Hickstead won just about all there was to win in the horse world including the Olympic Gold medal.

The Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper quoted this from Eric after he and the 15 year old horse won the $1-million CN International at the Spruce Meadows masters tournament just two months ago;

“I know him very well, and he wants to jump clear just as much as I do, I don’t come to Canada very often — I only come here to Spruce Meadows in the summer and then back for the masters, so to win here is very special.”

Here are my memories of Eric and Hickstead. Hickstead was a firecracker but Eric never seemed to fight him, he accepted who the horse was, which seemed to compliment Eric’s style. Eric always seem to be cool, he was so confident in his horses abilities, he never doubted him and that relationship was obvious to those who saw the team.

But one of my fondest memories of the Eric and Hickstead was after they won the Olympic gold medal in a jump off. While walked around the ring in celebration after the round Eric extended his arm pointing down to his horse, letting the world know who he thought the true champion really was.

I found this video highlight of Hickstead’s career on YouTube last night, that Olympic memory is in here. My heart goes out to Eric and all those who were closest to Hickstead, I can’t imagine the heartbreak they must be feeling today.

Today I am grateful for Hickstead one of the greatest horses of all time.


  1. Gale says:
    Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 12:47am

    I once had a horse that was like Hickstead.. A very tall Arabian stallion who had been a problem with everyone until I bought him. He always surprised me, and once, in the ring during the winter, he surprised me by showing me he knew the Airs above the Ground. You could trace his lineage to the Lipizzaners. When I sold him, I told his new owners how to handle him, and ways to get him to do things when he didn’t want to, including cleaning his feet….. they didn’t listen, and he died a year later when he went septic because they stopped fighting him and let his feet go.

    In our lives, we are given special animals, and we never forget that special one, even many years later.


  2. Astrid says:
    Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 11:35pm

    What an awsome horse!


  3. CJ says:
    Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 4:54pm

    Thanks for posting your thoughts Susan. I was so sad to hear about Hickstead, and the end of an amazing partnership. I’ve always been a fan of show jumping and agility is a great way to participate in a fun sport. Thanks for posting that clip of Eric Lamaze and Hickstead showing the best of themselves- a truly great team.


  4. MRB says:
    Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 3:06am

    We’ve got the Adelaide 3 Day Event (4* or Olympic standard) from the 17th November here.


    there is a news article on it about Eric’s horse and they abandoned the competition.

    I’ve got quite a few rellies and friends involved in eventing and I used to do jump judging (sitting at a cross country jump and marking off clears, refusals and holding up the course and rendering assistance if there was an accident at my jump).

    And sad for Eric and his team about the horse. It’s sad to lose a riding partner when its old and retired, but worse to lose it in the middle of competition and still had many years to give. The horses get vet checked many times during these competitions, so I’m sure this is a shock to everyone involved.

    So glad Susan Garrett decided to go into dog training – and not full on into the equestrian world.


  5. Angela says:
    Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 4:11pm

    We in agility can imagine Eric’s pain in losing his partner. Hickstead and Eric are role models for us all. Hickstead was a small but mighty. “Best Horse in the World” a title he truly embodied.


  6. Cynde says:
    Monday, November 7, 2011 at 8:12pm

    Thank you so much Susan for sharing this very special video of Eric and his partner Hickstead. It reminds us to take time to value and appreciate our dogs or horses and what they give to us each day; the joy and happiness they bring to us on our journey together… a journey that can end so suddenly.

    As you and others have so wisely written the halmark of a true champion is when there is a partnership and a bond between the horse or dog and the human performer. The victory is in the team work, the journey and the partnership. How sad for those who only find their worth manifested in the wins.


  7. Mim Aiken says:
    Monday, November 7, 2011 at 8:06pm

    What a horse. How fleeting life!


  8. Jane Jackson/Bookends Farm says:
    Monday, November 7, 2011 at 6:58pm

    Thank you Susan- nuff said.


  9. Pat says:
    Monday, November 7, 2011 at 4:26am

    My heart goes out to Eric Lamaze. To devolop the partnership that he obviously had takes someone special. So much more than just a good rider. Such a heart wrenching way for it to end. For all the people that witnessed it, what a shocking experience. To see such a great horses life just end so suddenly is very hard to come to terms with. It just isn’t how things are supposed to happen.


  10. Teri says:
    Monday, November 7, 2011 at 2:53am

    Thanks for posting this. It brought lots of tears as by sharing in those wonderful memories we also share in some of the pain of losing a friend.

    Years ago I rode and competed and one of my favourite sayings was “throw your heart over the jump and your horse will gladly follow”. Eric and Hickstead obviously had a relationship where their hearts shared so much.


  11. Debra Jones says:
    Monday, November 7, 2011 at 2:37am

    What a beautiful magnificent jumper, Susan. How heartbreaking…

    The video was awesome. The way Hickstead jumped – those legs tucked tight until he cleared those bars. His jumps so smooth and fluid-like; he made it seem nothing…

    I think I read every story of every horse that won a national race when I was a little girl… This horse stands a champion of all times… thank you for posting this and the video.


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