Famed Show-Jumping Horse Hickstead's Death Sparks Controversy for F.E.I.

Hickstead Eric Lamaze - H 2011
Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images

Hickstead Eric Lamaze - H 2011

The gold-medal-winning Canadian equine collapsed after completing his course during the Rolex World Cup Sunday.

The Rolex F.E.I. Wold Cup was brought to a halt Sunday, when Canadian star show-jumping horse, Hickstead, collapsed and died during the competition. 

The horse and his rider, Eric Lamaze, had just completed a 13-jump track in the fourth leg of the competition, knocking only one rail down, according to a press release on the Federation Equestre Internationale website, the sport’s international governing body.

Hickstead, a Dutch Warmblood who took home the individual gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic games, fell to the ground and began convulsing. Medics rushed to the scene, but the 15-year-old horse had already died.  

The shocking event, which was witnessed by grandstand spectators as well as TV and website viewers, has incited controversy for the typically staid sport. The rest of the World Cup's jumping competition was suspended at the request of Lamaze and Hickstead's fellow competitors 

An autopsy to determine the cause of death is schedule in the coming days, but many are speculating that it was the result of a heart problem.

“The horse is a natural blood doper,” director of the Equine Science Center at Rutgers University in New Jersey, Karyn Malinowski, told the New York Times. “When the horse does an athletic event, it will automatically dump tons of red blood cells into the bloodstream,” she said. “It’s what makes the horse a fabulous athlete. And at the same time, because you have an increase, the blood does become thicker, and if the horse was prone to a weakened heart, it could have burst.”

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Marketplace co-anchor Tom Harrington reported via Twitter Monday that a news conference will be held at Lamaze's lawyer, Tim Danson's office Wednesday at 11:15 EST to discuss the incident.