Eric, who grew up in Montreal, QC., started riding horses at the age of 12, often trading farm work for time in the reins. Raised by his grandmother, he experienced a tumultuous childhood and left school early to dedicate himself to riding. Ever passionate, but with little financial backing, Eric always had a vision to reach the top. Through his determination and dedication to the sport, that happened in 1991, when he competed in the Grand Prix level and then made the Canadian Equestrian team a year later.

Then in 2004, Eric took a chance on a seven-year-old 16hh Dutch Warmblood stallion Hickstead (Hamlet – Jomara x Ekstein), named for a famous equestrian showground in Britain, who was considered undersized and difficult to manage by other riders. Not deterred by his later start into show jumping and his habit of spooking at water jumps, Eric knew there was something special about him and worked with Hickstead to gain his trust and confidence. No one knew that one day this duo would become the most iconic partnership in international show jumping of their era.

Inducted in the ‘Team’ category, Eric and Hickstead would accomplish many feats including striking gold in the show jumping competition and helping Canada earn a team silver at the 2008 Beijing Games. Eric would become the first Canadian to be crowned Olympic Champion in individual show jumping competition and ended the year as the first-ever Canadian to be ranked first by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI).

Aside from their golden success, the duo would go on to win every major Grand Prix title globally from 2007-11, in Calgary, Geneva, Aachen, La Baule and Rome. They also won team silver and individual bronze medals at the 2007 Pan American Games and the 2010 World Championships in Kentucky, with Hickstead winning the “Best Horse” award that year.

Heartbreakingly in 2011, Hickstead passed away during a World Cup competition in Italy suffering an aneurysm while completing a jump. A year later, Hickstead’s owners, John Fleischhacker and Eric unveiled a life-sized statue on the Spruce Meadows’ showgrounds near Calgary. Commemorating his life and success, Equestrian Canada also created the prestigious Hickstead Trophy in 2011 awarded to high performance horses of the highest exception that is only awarded when warranted, and not necessarily on an annual basis.

Eric, the three-time Olympian (2008 Beijing, 2012 London and 2016 Rio de Janeiro) and Hickstead became the ninth and tenth members of Equestrian Canada to be inducted to the Sports Hall of Fame and only the second athlete and horse duo joining the likes of Ian Millar and Big Ben, who were inducted in 1996.

The Sports Hall of Fame, celebrating their 65th anniversary, honoured the class of 2020-21 with the Order of Sport, including Eric, along with John Barrett (powerlifting), Sonja Gaudet (wheelchair curling), Diane Jones Konihowski (athletics), Lorie Kane (golf), Steve Nash (basketball), Duncan Campbell (wheelchair rugby), Sheldon Kennedy (ice hockey), Judy Kent (sport administration), Willie O’Ree (ice hockey) and Ross Powless (lacrosse).  

Eric, who grew up in Montreal, QC., started riding horses at the age of 12, often trading farm work for time in the reins. Raised by his grandmother, he experienced a tumultuous childhood and left school early to dedicate himself to riding. Ever passionate, but with little financial backing, Eric always had a vision to reach the top. Through his determination and dedication to the sport, that happened in 1991, when he competed in the Grand Prix level and then made the Canadian Equestrian team a year later.

Then in 2004, Eric took a chance on a seven-year-old 16hh Dutch Warmblood stallion Hickstead (Hamlet – Jomara x Ekstein), named for a famous equestrian showground in Britain, who was considered undersized and difficult to manage by other riders. Not deterred by his later start into show jumping and his habit of spooking at water jumps, Eric knew there was something special about him and worked with Hickstead to gain his trust and confidence. No one knew that one day this duo would become the most iconic partnership in international show jumping of their era.

Inducted in the ‘Team’ category, Eric and Hickstead would accomplish many feats including striking gold in the show jumping competition and helping Canada earn a team silver at the 2008 Beijing Games. Eric would become the first Canadian to be crowned Olympic Champion in individual show jumping competition and ended the year as the first-ever Canadian to be ranked first by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI).

Aside from their golden success, the duo would go on to win every major Grand Prix title globally from 2007-11, in Calgary, Geneva, Aachen, La Baule and Rome. They also won team silver and individual bronze medals at the 2007 Pan American Games and the 2010 World Championships in Kentucky, with Hickstead winning the “Best Horse” award that year.

Heartbreakingly in 2011, Hickstead passed away during a World Cup competition in Italy suffering an aneurysm while completing a jump. A year later, Hickstead’s owners, John Fleischhacker and Eric unveiled a life-sized statue on the Spruce Meadows’ showgrounds near Calgary. Commemorating his life and success, Equestrian Canada also created the prestigious Hickstead Trophy in 2011 awarded to high performance horses of the highest exception that is only awarded when warranted, and not necessarily on an annual basis.

Eric, the three-time Olympian (2008 Beijing, 2012 London and 2016 Rio de Janeiro) and Hickstead became the ninth and tenth members of Equestrian Canada to be inducted to the Sports Hall of Fame and only the second athlete and horse duo joining the likes of Ian Millar and Big Ben, who were inducted in 1996.

The Sports Hall of Fame, celebrating their 65th anniversary, honoured the class of 2020-21 with the Order of Sport, including Eric, along with John Barrett (powerlifting), Sonja Gaudet (wheelchair curling), Diane Jones Konihowski (athletics), Lorie Kane (golf), Steve Nash (basketball), Duncan Campbell (wheelchair rugby), Sheldon Kennedy (ice hockey), Judy Kent (sport administration), Willie O’Ree (ice hockey) and Ross Powless (lacrosse).  

Golden Show Jumping Partners Eric Lamaze and Hickstead Inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

PHOTO – Eric Lamaze and Hickstead competing at the 2008 Beijing Olympics
PHOTO Credit – Susan Walsh

– 30 – 

This site is registered on wpml.org as a development site. Switch to a production site key to remove this banner.