Sunday, November 6, 2011

A great Canadian athlete

I was shocked and saddened today to learn of the death of Hickstead, Eric Lamaze's horse, who collapsed and died while in the ring at a World Cup event in Verona. Many of you who know me know that before I traveled the world, my great passion was show jumping. I began riding horses when I was ten years old, and continued on to compete with my two horses, Nirvana and Supertramp. When I wasn't at school, you could find me at the barn, and I'm pretty sure I smelled of horse poop for most of my teenage years, but I didn't care.

Show jumping is a sport like no other. It is a truly a team competition, and you can't underestimate the bond between rider and horse. And while it's easy to imagine posh young girls swinging up into the saddle for a bit of a hack before handing their horse off to a groom, the reality is that to succeed as a rider you need to be in top physical shape. You need to have legs of steel, and you need to be tough as nails.

You also need to have an amazing mount. Hickstead and Eric won several grand prix championships, helped Canada take the silver in the team event at the 2008 Olympics, and won gold for the individual event. The first time Canada had ever medaled in Olympic show jumping. In other words, this horse was spectacular. He has earned his place among other top Canadian horses: Big Ben, Monopoly, Altair. His death is tragic and a devastating loss for Canada. My heart goes out to the community I am no longer part of, and to Eric who has lost a brilliant teammate and friend.

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