Hickstead, the 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion, was gearing up for another win at the jumping portion of the Rolex FEI World Cup in Verona, Italy on November 5, 2011. Instead of praising his victory, the world is mourning the loss of an equine champion.
Winning was nothing new for the stallion and his rider, Eric Lamaze. Under Lamaze’s careful horsemanship, the stallion earned countless silver and gold medals both for individual competitions and team events, including a gold win at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Hickstead was doing well during Saturday’s competition. He and Lamaze completed the show jumping event with only one rail down – a nearly flawless run and a difficult accomplishment for most riders. CNN reports that the stallion collapsed suddenly right after finishing the round.
The horse – who was otherwise in good health – simply dropped and started shaking and convulsing on the ground before he died. The Toronto Sun reports that attempts to revive the stallion were unsuccessful.
Born in the Netherlands, named after a famous showground in Britain and owned by a Canadian, Hickstead was more than just a show horse – he was a common thread that bound the competitive show horse community together. The Vancouver Sun reports an outpouring of grief from the global community, including Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan.
43-year-old Lamaze had high hopes for the future. The pair was to travel to the 2012 summer olympics to defend their gold medal. Now the title will go unchallenged to the next up-and-coming equine star.
The cause of Hickstead’s death isn’t immediately clear and necropsy results are pending. Expert Karyn Malinowski with Equine Science Center at Rutgers University in New Jersey told the New York Times that the cause of Hickstead’s death and the symptoms he displayed before death indicated a heart attack.
More important than titles and medals, Hickstead won the hearts of countless people. Were you a fan of Lamaze and his horse? How does the loss of one of the greats of show-jumping affect you?