If people ask who my favourite rider is, i’ll always say Eric Lamaze. Not because he’s the number one rider in Canada and won gold in 2008 for individual jumping, but for the type of rider he is. He loves his horses, they’re his family, his team mates, his reason for survival. He proved that money doesn’t determine success. Yeah, it’s needed in the sport as horses, and competition fees are expensive but money doesn’t make you a good rider.
In 1996 he was supposed to go to the Olympics in Atlanta but tested positive for cocaine use and was banned for four years, which was reduced, he was given chance number two and he blew it again. Now I remember as a little kid, i would have been 5 years old when this happened, i thought he was a bad person. Drugs = instant bad in kids eyes. I was to young to know his story prior to that. So when he came back to the show jumping world 7 years later it was a little hard to accept a drug addict back into the show jumping world but as a horse crazed girl drooling over her television set at the horses, the riders, the style and the nail biting competition, it was hard not to fall in love with his talent, and the beautiful, breath taking rides he would always have.
So the rider had a past, it wasn’t until a documentary about his past and how horses got him through it aired that i truly understood that he wasn’t just some drug addict rider but a troubled one that made a few bad decisions and had a rough past. This made him an even bigger role model in my life. Not only was he good at what he does, he was determined, he had goals, he had ambition and drive and he got what he wanted and worked hard for it. Very hard.
Him and Hickstead have always been the pair to watch. It was devastating when he lost the big boy but even that didn’t get him down. This year in the Olympics he’s riding a mare that he’s not 100% clicked with, she’s a great mare but she’s not his legendary Hickstead. He’s been riding amazing throughout despite that and he’s still the breath taking rider he was many, many years ago.
What is making him even more awesome is the fact that he’s willing to give it all up to stand up for his team mate and student, Tiffany Foster. The FEI and everyone involved in this whole ordeal with Tiffany and Victor are wrong, and Eric knows that. He’s willing to stop team competing until Equine Canada supports their riders more.(https://www.chronofhorse.com/article/lamaze-says-he%E2%80%99ll-boycott-future-team-rides)
I, as a fellow Canadian stand behind my role model, the leader of Canada’s Equestrian world and I know many other Canadians will do the same. I hope those around the world have our backs as well, despite being our competition on the show grounds.