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Canadian equestrian star Eric Lamaze takes a break from competition

Eric Lamaze puts on his Team Canada helmet after he was named to the Canadian Olympic equestrian team in Calgary, Alberta, July 5, 2012. Lamaze won the gold medal at the 2008 summer Olympics and will represent Canada at this year's summer Olympics in London.

TODD KOROL/REUTERS

Canadian Olympian Eric Lamaze says he is taking a break from show jumping.

Lamaze, who won an equestrian gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Games, plans to skip the remainder of the season with an eye on a return in 2013.

The 44-year-old native of Schomberg, Ont., said in a statement Saturday he is looking forward to time away from the competition ring.

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"After many great years of contesting the sport at the top level for 12 months of the year, week in and week out, I'm looking forward to taking a little break and enjoying myself by travelling and playing a little golf," said Lamaze.

He's currently competing at the Spruce Meadows "Masters" Tournament and will finish the year at Sunday's international event.

Lamaze's Olympic hopes this summer were dealt a devastating blow in November 2011 when his long time horse Hickstead collapsed and died at a World Cup qualifying event in Italy.

Aboard Hickstead's replacement, Derly Chin de Muze, Lamaze missed the podium at the London Games in the individual competition. Canada finished fifth in the team competition.

"The past 10 months have been an extremely difficult and emotional time for me," said Lamaze. "The London Olympics were supposed to be Hickstead's Games, and I never imagined that I would go without him.

"It is hard to describe how difficult it was to lose Hickstead, and yet not want to let down my country, my teammates and everyone who has stood beside me."

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