In a touching ceremony in the international ring during the Spruce Meadows Masters, Eric Lamaze unveiled a statue of his famous show jumper Hickstead.
With Lamaze, Hickstead jumped to individual gold and team silver at the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong, individual bronze at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (Ky.), where Hickstead was named Best Horse, and second place individually at the 2011 Rolex FEI World Cup Final.
They won grand prixs all over the world, including in Rome, Aachen and La Baule. Together, they claimed the prestigious CN International at Spruce Meadows in 2007 and 2011. Hickstead died on Nov. 6, 2011, after suffering an aortic rupture while competing at the CSIO Verona (Italy).
Sculptor Mary Sand, of Pennsylvania, created the 1,400-pound bronze of Hickstead taking flight, which is close to 10 feet tall. It will have a permanent place of honor on the Spruce Meadows grounds.
“Every once and again, we are treated to magic, to excellence, to a glance of greatness. And that is what we saw with Hickstead and Eric,” said Canadian teammate and legend Ian Millar in an emotional video tribute that played at the ceremony.
“There’s no other horse, with his ability and conformation and the way that he went, that could do what this horse did. Ninety-five percent of what he did was from the heart,” said Lamaze in the video.
In addition, Hickstead and Lamaze were inducted into the Spruce Meadows Hall of Fame. “Hickstead wouldn’t have been what Hickstead was without jumping [at Spruce Meadows] for so many years. Thank you to the fans who made so many fences possible to jump clear from your cheers,” Lamaze said.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Lamaze announced that he will take a short break from competition. “After many great years of contesting the sport at the top level for 12 months of the year, week in and week out, I’m looking forward to taking a little break and enjoying myself by travelling and playing a little golf,” said Lamaze, 44.
“The past 10 month have been an extremely difficult and emotional time for me,” said Lamaze, who has dominated the world rankings since becoming Olympic Champion four years ago. “The London Olympics were supposed to be Hickstead’s Games, and I never imagined that I would go without him. It is hard to describe how difficult it was to lose Hickstead, and yet not want to let down my country, my teammates and everyone who has stood beside me.”
Although he will continue to coach his students, including Tiffany Foster as well as Andy Ziegler and his daughter, Caitlin, of Artisan Farms, Lamaze does not plan to return to competition ring himself until the 2013 season.
“My current horses will have a rest after an intense season, and I’m looking into securing some new prospects for the future,” said Lamaze. “It’s exciting to be able to take my time to rebuild and re-energize our program, and return to the ring at a slower pace with a very competitive string of horses.”