Eric and Hickstead's story would be a great novel. The man who struggled with his professional and personal life being matched up to a horse that was considered unrideable in many circles. They met, and they succeeded and I believe had it not been for the incredible lack of understanding Eric had with this horse, Hickstead may never have become the world class show jumper he was.
As with any athlete, there comes risk with age and I believe Hickstead loved his job, loved his rider, and died doing his job...with great dignity. It doesnt matter how much some would like to make this into something it isnt, the horse was not ready to retire, he loved his job too much.
I have watched many videos of these two, and if there is one thing I can say for certain, Eric wanted what was best for that horse, and the gentle tap he gave Hickstead on his forehead in the end was no more that Eric saying..."Get up my friend, don't give up on me."
The Royal will be filled with tears as they salute Hickstead on opening nite. Wish I was going this year.