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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Linus at the CHHAPS Pacific Canadian Horse Show 2011

Linus at the CHHAPS Pacific Canadian Horse Show 2011

My fingers have been hovering over the keyboard for about five minutes now, much like the scene in You’ve Got Mail in which Tom Hanks ponders how to explain his no-show on his date with Meg Ryan.  I was so privileged to be part of the Pacific Canadian Horse Show in Maple Ridge, British Columbia that my gratitude has all but rendered me mute. Everyone was warm, welcoming, helpful–and that was just the people.  The horses were, well, breathtaking, and since my booth was less than five feet from the shed-rows, you can easily guess where my heart led my feet, again and again and again.  I couldn’t get enough of these superb horses, each one a credit to the Canadian breed in looks and temperament.  All the owners and riders were very good about letting me pet, kiss and generally bask in the energy and beauty of their horses, and everyone graciously tolerated all my questions–and dumb and wordless staring, which I did a lot of.  Even while there, I was very much aware how different this Show and this group of people were from those at other Event and Competition shows I’ve attended.  

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Happy Feet Airborne to BC

I leave tomorrow for Maple Ridge, BC, to attend the Pacific Canadian Horse Show.  CHHAPS (the Canadian Horse Heritage and Preservation Society) is the Show sponsor, and I may get to meet Bromont Loupin Prince, the splendiferous stallion featured on the cover of Ground Manners.  Even if I don’t, I will be breathing the same air as he does, and Betty Baxter, co-owner of Five Winds Farm and Vice-Chair of CHHAPS has assured me that I will meet his progeny.  Deb Harper, NH trainer and official photog of the event, will meet me on Friday and spirit me away to her place where I will meet her miniatures, Lyric (a Trakehner) and assorted precious cats and dogs.  Deb asked if I wanted to do any ground work with the horses–ground work!–all ground work is to me is, ‘how close can I get to your silky face and will you let me kiss it a la Pepe Le Pew’!  Could anyone be any more fortunate than I am at this moment in time?!!  To boot, I will be meeting with a cousin of mine, Carole and her husband, Danny, whom I haven’t seen in nearly twelve years. I won’t be bringing my computer, but I will report back here with photos upon my return…a return, I’ve no doubt, which will be one of ebullience (to misquote Freud)!  British Columbia, here I come!

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