Monday, November 7, 2011
Sunday morning, the sun was shining into the barn, I was talking with a boarder, leaning on my pitchfork and feeling a little less-frazzled than usual when she said, "Oh my god, I have news, I heard last night from a friend in Europe that Hickstead died in Italy." The first thing that went through my mind was, .. well, not Eric's Hickstead. Then, How is that possible?. She continued that he had jumped a clear run, and after the course he seized, fell and died... most likely of a heart attack. Everyone in attendance agreed that it was an absolute tragedy to the horse industry, and then we went back to what we were doing.
But for some reason I couldn't shake it, Hickstead was dead. Impossible. You see, Hickstead is the horse that every little girl that loves ponies dreams are made of. He was cute and compact, but powerful and awe-inspiring. He was that out of the blue, nobody saw it coming (not even Eric Lamaze in the beginning), who woulda thought, kinda horse.
When I was a little girl, dreaming of ponies, my grandparents would take me to Spruce Meadows, and I would wander the grounds for hours, happily petting the noses of the massive jumpers in their beautiful stalls. I could have spent days just sitting there, watching those animals literally leap into the sky. So, although western is my heart and soul, a piece of me has always loved the "Spruce" atmosphere, English saddles, jumps so high that you couldn't climb them if you wished and those horses... that fly. It always seemed so magical.
Magic was definitely in the air this year when I went with a good friend to the CN International, Eric and Hickstead jumped both rounds clear, and the crowd roared for them. You could tell the second Hickstead walked onto the course who the crowd favourite was. Everyone stopped speaking and the world seemed to stand still as he took those jumps, and by the time he had cleared the last one the crowd was in hysterics. Eric and Hickstead, Canada's dream team.
So, although I never personally met Hickstead, and have never met Eric Lamaze, and realistically have no true connection to the Show Jumping world, I felt that sting of losing a hero, losing something that meant so much to so many people. The little stallion that could. May he rest in peace.