Hickstead: “He was the Best Horse in the World”

Credit: Robin Duncan

We are pleased to present the winners of our third annual Readers’ Choice Awards, honouring remarkable horses and horse people for their achievements and contributions to Canada’s horse industry.

Our sincere appreciation goes our generous Readers’ Choice Awards sponsor, Bucas, who graciously donated fabulous prizes to our winners. Thank you to everyone who nominated and helped make our Readers’ Choice Awards a success again this year.

Congratulations to our deserving winners.

The 2012 Readers' Choice Awards Winners Are (please read more at each link):
Grated Coconut: Born to Buck
Duane Latimer: Canada's Reining Royalty
Pippa Hodge: A driving force behind therapeutic riding in Canada
Karen Brain: Anything is possible
Hickstead: “He was the best horse in the world”
Eve Mainwaring: "A tremendous horsewoman"
Dianne Tidball: Matriarch of Thunderbird Show Park
Somebeachsomewhere: Racehorse of the Decade
Orion: A Remarkable Therapist
Bill desBarres: "A lifetime in the service of the horse"

Hickstead Eric Lamaze Show Jumping Horse Memorial

Photo: Robin Duncan Photography
Hickstead’s tremendous athleticism and incredible charisma made him a Canadian icon.

“He was the best horse in the world.”
March 2, 1996 to November 6, 2011

Why does Hickstead deserve to be recognized as one of Canada’s 10 most remarkable horses and people? “Because,” as Henry Swierenga of Smithville, Ontario, succinctly put it, “he was Hickstead.”

The legendary stallion became a Canadian icon in 2008 when, with rider Eric Lamaze of Schomberg, Ontario, he won the Individual Gold and Team Silver medals at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Hickstead found his way into Lamaze’s stable in 2004 with a reputation for being a difficult ride, but with time and patience, horse and rider developed a powerful bond. Together they formed a nearly unbeatable team, taking home Team Silver and Individual Bronze Medals at the 2007 Pan American Games, and winning the prestigious $1 million CN International at the Spruce Meadows Masters Tournament twice, in 2007 and 2011.

But the highlight of their career was their success at the 2008 Olympic Games. There Hickstead helped secure the Team Silver Medal for the Canadian Show Jumping Team, the first team medal in show jumping for Canada in 40 years. He then went on to carry Lamaze to the podium as the first Canadian show jumper to win an individual Olympic gold medal, and the only Canadian double-medalist of the 2008 Olympics.

Hickstead Eric Lamaze Show Jumping Horse Memorial

Photo: Robin Duncan Photography
Hickstead was a notoriously careful jumper, rarely dropping a rail.

Hickstead and Lamaze’s victories at the 2008 Olympics secured their place in the hearts of show jumping fans around the world, especially those in Canada. The Hickstead-Lamaze pairing was voted Canada’s 2011 Athlete of the Year by CBCSports.ca readers, claiming a whopping 56.9 percent of the 20,000 odd votes.

Lamaze and Hickstead went on to compete at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky, where the stallion achieved the extremely rare accomplishment of logging four clear rounds with four different riders, earning the “Best Horse” title.

The final major victory for Hickstead and Lamaze came in September of 2011 when they won the $1 million CN International at the Spruce Meadows Masters Tournament for the second time, an extraordinary accomplishment.

Tragically Hickstead died suddenly of an aortic rupture on November 6, 2011, when, upon completing a round in an international show jumping tournament in Verona, Italy, he collapsed to the ground and began convulsing. Veterinarians immediately rushed to his aid, but the 15-year-old horse had already died.

“A horse like Hickstead changed my career,” Lamaze said. “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 won’t be another one like him...I think everybody loved that horse.”

With files from CBC.ca.

Main article photo: Robin Duncan Photography - When performing in competition, Hickstead seemed to want to win as much as his rider.

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