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Friday, November 11, 2011

Many Broken Hearts

Armbands being worn by GP riders and jump crew at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto, this week
Hickstead (1996-2011)

My post on the National Horse Show Grand Prix will have to wait for a few more minutes: I simply must honor the memory of Hickstead. I learned of his passing on Sunday afternoon while watching the Maclay, via a friend's post on Facebook. I could hardly believe my eyes. WHAT??!? How could this be? It would simply be too cruel to his rider and the spectators in Italy for the great horse to go crashing down in full view. Alas, that is precisely what happened, and the autopsy has now revealed that an aortic aneursym was responsible. No one could have known of this defect, and many sad analogies can certainly be made regarding the courage and fire of the little stallion who, in a way, simply had his gallant heart give out.

Someone else has already written a remarkable tribute piece that I believe sums up how most of us feel about this tragic loss. Here is the link to the article, appropriately titled "Wrong Ending." Exactly. There is also this YouTube video, which someone put together after Eric Lamaze and Hickstead won their Olympic gold medal. I am sure there are and will be other tributes but I thought this was lovely, with very appropriate music (my only beef is with the title - let's remember who else won that medal, please).

I can't help noticing the wonderful equitation and peerless form of the horse - and look at the AIR over that enormous fence!
- Photo by Nancy Jaffer
The following photo, I think, sums up the relationship between Eric and his mount. They were truly partners in every sense of the word, and even non-horsey people would have to admit that the relationship they shared was palpable and unique. Like all the best equestrians, Eric knew that it was his privilege to be on his back and merely exhibit the magic that was Hickstead. One needs only to point to this horse whenever someone questions the willingness of horses to participate in sport. This, I believe, should be our one consolation: Hickstead died doing what he loved. Rest well across the Rainbow Bridge, O Mighty One.

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