I will never forget that summer day in 2008. I was at work, streaming live the final round for the individual Olympic show jumping medals in Beijing. My heart was absolutely racing, suspense reeling me, but I couldn't bare to look away. I knew inside that Hickstead would not let me, or any of the Canadians watching down, and he didn't. He never did. I had tears that day watching the most amazing horse I had ever seen, come together with the most talented rider I have ever seen, make history. Canada had never won a gold medal in show jumping, until that moment. That was one of many, record breaking days for Eric and Hickstead.
Hicksteads success was not so much a surprise to me, as it was only a matter of time before Eric came into the greatness he was always destined for. I have always been a huge admirer of Eric. Even before Hickstead, when there were all those troubles, I was his biggest fan and supporter. I knew he was an incredible horseman, and he just needed the right horse to get him where he could be. Hickstead was that horse.
Hickstead came into Erics life when he was 7. The unconventional type some might say; too small, too hot, too unmanageable under saddle. None of this, was too much for Eric. Eric took what he had and turned it into the unbeatable, unbelievable, unforgettable, Hickstead. Hickstead was a champion, there is no doubt about that. It is not the loss of a champion that has devastated the horse world though, it is the sympathy we feel for Eric and for all those who love Hickstead, who have supported team Lamaze from the beginning.
How can you begin to breathe again when you lose your horse, your partner, your best friend? When you have come from the depths of anguish and no one believed you could do it. When critics would do whatever they could to prevent you from getting there, when you have beat all olds and become the absolute number one in the world. How do you get up in the morning knowing that one thing that has turned your whole world around for the better, isn't there anymore?
I guess I am hurting more from the loss of Hickstead than I can explain. I want Eric to know that the entire horse world is crying for him over this loss. Hickstead brought our equestrian community together again. He gave us all hope that no matter what happens, no matter what anyone says, we can achieve our dreams. Never lose hope, never stop believing in yourself, and never, ever, give up. We may never see another Hickstead in our lifetimes, but we will see Eric at the top. That is where he belongs.
Stay strong Eric, and all those who love Hickstead. He is in horse heaven, where the pastures are eternal, and the days are made of clouds and carrots. You are a legend Hickstead, thank you for showing us there are no limits to what we can achieve, when you truly love.
Champions are not made, they are born with greatness. Equestrian champions are even rarer, as man and horse must find each other and see the same dream. My heros. R.I.P Hickstead
Some tribute videos on Neighflix.