‘He will not accept cowardice’: top riders share why Olympic showjumper Eric Lamaze has become a true legend

  • The showjumping world was rocked by Canadian Olympic gold medal-winning showjumper Eric Lamaze’s recent announcement that he would be retiring from the sport owing to ill health. He has instead taken the helm of Canada’s showjumping team in his new role as chef d’equipe but the jumping circuit is certainly poorer without Eric’s beautiful horsemanship, competitive edge and of course his breathtaking speed in the ring. 

    Some of his biggest fans and dearest friends have come forward to highlight what has made the Rolex Testimonee a showjumping legend.

    Swiss showjumper and fellow Olympic gold medallist Steve Guerdat says that it is the legacy between Eric and Spruce Meadows – the venue of some of his greatest victories – that stands out for him.

    “It is unimaginable what he achieved in that ring,” he says. “Hickstead is one of the all-time greats and so similar to Eric – they are one pair I can’t stop watching again and again.”

    Steve says the most useful thing he learnt from Eric, whom he describes as “confident and positive” is: “Never doubt, always stay positive and keep moving forward.”

    Eric’s trainee Tiffany Foster, a regular member of the Canadian team, also remembers Calgary as a highlight in Eric’s career.

    “My favourite Rolex Grand Slam Major memory with Eric is when he won the grand prix in Calgary on Hickstead for the first time in 2007,” she says. “It was an incredibly inspirational moment that I was able to witness first-hand. I’ll never forget the goosebumps that ran down my spine and the tears of joy when he cleared the final jump. It will be seared in my memory forever!

    “I started working for Eric when Hickstead [pictured below] was nine years old and got to be along for the whole ride. In my opinion, he is the best showjumper of all time. He wanted to win as bad as Eric did and they were a perfect match. They would both try to win any class they entered; while most horses need a round or two of schooling in between classes, Hickstead never did. He was a joy to watch compete because you could feel his heart was in it. Truly spectacular!”

    Top Canadian showjumper Eric Lamaze, pictured here riding one of his most famous horses, Hickstead, at WEG 2010, shares his views on loose jumping young horses

    Tiffany says she learned to be resilient through Eric.

    “There is no room for not trying your hardest every time when Eric is involved,” she says. “He pushes you to give your all and he will not accept cowardice of any kind. He has made me stronger than I would have ever been without him.”

    Young USA rider Spencer Smith was first impressed by Eric at the CHI Geneva and learnt to believe in himself thanks to Eric’s advice.

    “I was very inexperienced and young,” says Spencer. “He really made me believe I could win the Rolex Grand Prix. I went into the ring so confident; he has that effect on people.”

    For Spencer, who describes Eric as “determined”, it is his 2016 Olympic bronze medal-winning mare Fine Lady who stands out.

    “She has the biggest heart and she would do anything for Eric,” he says. “Their partnership was amazing.”

    With thanks to Rolex Grand Slam

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