Thursday, December 22, 2011

Champion of the Week

There are so many incredible horses that have passed through this world that I want to feature one a week for admiration and discussion. I love reading up on human celebrities, so finding out more on equine celebrities will be even better! Suggestions on which equine champions to feature as we go along are very welcome!!

The very first celebrity to be honored is the worthy Hickstead. Hickstead's story begins fifteen years ago in the Netherlands on March 2 (Globe), where he was born to breeder B. van Schindel & M. Kessel (Gestuet-sprehe).  Hickstead's "mere" 16 hands made him at first ineligible to be a registered Dutch Warmblood (Globe), but as the world soon witnessed, Hickstead's shorter height meant little when paired with his huge heart.

Hickstead waited for seven years as potential owner after potential owner passed him by, seeing a horse too small for his great excitability (Globe). Who knows how Hickstead felt that pivotal day when a new rider settled onto his back. After so many years of being passed over, Hickstead's time finally came when Canadian show jumper Eric Lamaze arrived with his horse dealer to Hickstead's farm to see the stallion a second time (Globe). Lamaze gave Hickstead a chance, climbed on, and something between the two clicked.

I'm sure it was like magic for the two of them, that spark you feel when a horse just gets you, and you
understand him. As one blogger eloquently states in regard to Hickstead, "Equestrian champions are [even rarer], as man and horse must find each other and see the same dream. " (Neighflix). Hickstead and Lamaze must have shared the same dream, as they surged to greatness together. 

Thousands thrilled to watch the two in the ring. Hickstead's heart for jumps and commitment to his rider
were apparent even to those not accustomed to equine sports. Their successes together are incredible, in nearly every regard. Monetarily, the two won $3 million together (Chronicle), along with the astounding championships that provided that prize money. As anyone who has ever known a champion realizes, though, the intangible rewards had to be even greater for horse and rider

It was in the first round of the Rolex Grand Prix in Verona CSI-W that Hickstead's great heart floundered (Chronicle). It was believed to be a heart attack that brought the great Hickstead to an end (Chronicle), but his legacy will not be diminished. You can hear the ache in Lamaze's words when he says "It is the most tragic thing that has ever happened.  We had him until he was 15, and we had a great time together.  He was the best horse in the world" (Chronicle). Those of us who have ever loved and lost a horse understand. We find ourselves repeating Lamaze's exact words . . . We had her for 12 years . . . He was the best horse in the world . . . She was the most wonderful horse I've ever owned . . . He was everything to me . . .  

And the death of a champion becomes so much more than a single tragedy. It becomes a despair felt across the world by horse lovers, uniting us in loss, for we know there will never be another Hickstead, another Blaze, another Rocket, another Glo . . .

So true do we know to be the proverb "For every horse there is one rider and for every rider there is one horse,” as delivered by Akaash Maharaj, chief executive office of Equine Canada and the Canadian national equestrian team (Globe). And yet how true is it that still we continue to seek another horse to connect with, another champion to win our hearts. And so it will go on forever, as it should. 

Source:  Gestut Sprehe

A tribute to and moment of silence in honor of Hickstead

1 comment:

  1. We do something similar on our Horse of the Week blog, it's such fun to choose a great horse and find out more about them. Look forward to reading your picks each week.