Hickstead and Lamaze: A Big “Ask” Answered

Hickstead and Lamaze:  A Big “Ask” Answered

Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta, hosts two of the most renowned, challenging equestrian events in the world.  Yesterday, I watched the BMO Financial Nation’s Cup (France won though Canada was a close second), and today, I watched the CN International Cup.  Sixteen-year-old Hickstead, called the Wonder Horse, and rider, Eric Lamaze, who brought gold home to Canada from the Olympics (up to then, I’d thought the highest medal was bronze; that’s what Canada usually wins) and is the Number One rider in the world…let me say that again…in the world, won the CN with nary a thought.  As I watched Hickstead in the BMO and again today in the first round, I thought:  “this horse knows exactly what he’s there to do, knows exactly what each jump requires…and then just does it.”  I was gratified to hear Hickstead’s owner say in an interview, “…he was a stumblebum in the early years…and now, it’s like he says to Eric, ‘just sit there and be a good boy, and I’ll take care of it.'”  Then, when Eric accepted the trophy (and the cheque) for the CN today, he too stated:  “Hickstead is an amazing horse…basically, I just let him go…he knew exactly what he was doing…and I didn’t even feel that he’d lost a shoe towards the end of the second round…he didn’t falter.”  You’ve gotta imagine Hickstead’s thoughts evolving in the nine years Lamaze has been his rider.  At first, he must have thought:  “…um, okay, so you want me to jump these funny-looking fence things.  I can do that…but geez, they’re high.”  And then, after the umpteenth competition: “…oh, I get it.  I can’t let my feet touch the rails cuz if they touch the rails and the rails come down, we lose…right?  Okay, now I really get it.”  

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