Acute Aortic Rupture Blamed for Hickstead's Death

Acute Aortic Rupture Blamed for Hickstead's Death

Hickstead and Eric Lamaze en route to a Gold Medal at the 2008 Olympic Games.

Photo: Kit Houghton

An acute aortic rupture caused show jumping champion Hickstead's death during a Nov. 6 competition in Italy, a necropsy has revealed. The results of the post-mortem examination were revealed during a press conference held in Canada.

Ridden by the current No. 1 international show jumper, Eric Lamaze from Canada, the 15-year-old bay KWPN stallion collapsed in the Rolex Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) World Cup show arena in Verona, Italy, on Sunday. The horse and rider team had just completed a course with just one rail down, the FEI reported. Videos show Hickstead calmly walking out of the arena before suddenly weakening, sitting back on his haunches, and falling as Lamaze dismounts.

Lamaze spoke at the press conference from his lawyer's office to address the media about the horse's death.

"He jumped very well the first and second day, and actually jumped very well the last day," an emotional Lamaze said. "He just collapsed. Nothing was unusual with the round. Even the last jump felt normal.

"It's hard for me to remember what happened, but he collapsed," he continued. "I was far away from him. He made sure he didn't injure me in the process."

Lamaze added that "everybody in charge was very quick to respond and make sure he was attended to."

He noted that leading up to the competition, Hickstead was healthy and was examined by a veterinarian two to three times weekly.

"I wouldn't have taken him if he wasn't in the best of shape," he said.

"If he wasn't in great shape, we really backed down," Lamaze continued. "He was healthier than any other horse (in the stable)."

Lamaze said he had believed the stallion would compete for at least another year prior to retirement and hadn't put the 2012 Olympics in London out of his sight.

"There were moments he was unbeatable," Lamaze recalled. "There were times he was just that good."

In closing, he acknowledged Hickstead's supporters: "I want to thank everybody that participated in Hickstead's career: the staff who took care of him, the riders who rode him, the veterinarians that took care of him, the others who helped shipping him around world, blacksmiths, everyone. Everyone made a big difference."

Lamaze confirmed the horse was cremated after the necropsy was completed.

About the Author

Erica Larson, News Editor

Erica Larson, news editor, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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