Saturday this was only an "unconfirmed report". Sunday I was lost in my own little world and spending quality time with Greta. And today, after a busy morning and classes, I sit down to see that the unthinkable is indeed true and that the great stallion Hickstead passed from a sudden heart attack tragically immediately after a stellar round in Verona. He had not even left the ring.
Do not, I repeat, do not watch the video of the actual death if you want to preserve some innocence. It was terrible. So many shots of people crying, and then a extremely dazed and shocked look on Eric Lamaze's face. Hickstead meant a lot to so many people, and to see that happen after one of his usual breathtaking rounds seemed cruel.
What really warmed my heart though was that the rest of the competition was stopped... at the request of the riders. The horse world is chuck full of snobs and self-centered people, but you have to admit that it's the horse itself that brings us all together, for whatever personal reasons.
"Hickstead really was a horse in a million and my heart goes out to Eric and everyone connected with this wonderful horse. This is a terrible loss, but Hickstead truly will never be forgotten. We were very lucky to have known him." Princess Haya bint Al Hussein
"Every horseman knows the proverb: For every rider there's one horse, and for every horse there's one rider - and they were that sort of partnership. Hickstead wasn't simply his partner in sport, he was his partner in his life's hopes & ambitions." Akaash Maharaj
"We are shocked. This horse was in the past few years the measure of all things." Marco Kutscher
Rest in Peace, Hickstead.
EDIT: I was stupid to buy into the heart attack theory as horses very rarely have heart attacks. It was ruled as an aortic rupture, I believe. Regardless, these kinds of things just aren't supposed to happen to beloved champions, or any horse.