Sport: Equestrian Show Jumping
Birth: Wuustweezel, Belgium, April 20, 1976
Died: December 11, 1999
Career Highlights- Member, seven Nations Cup winning teams
- More than 40 Grand Prix victories
1984, 1988, 1992 - Competed in Olympic Games
1987 - Two gold medals at Pan-Am Games
1987, 1991 - Won du Maurier Ltd. International Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows, Calgary
1988, 1989 - Won two consecutive World Cups, the first horse to do so
The realm of the sporting hero is not limited to the human race, as Big Ben, Canada’s most celebrated show jumping horse, has proven. With rider Ian Millar, Big Ben enjoyed a fruitful eleven-year career, jumping to glory in a variety of world class equestrian events.
After teaming up in 1984, Ben and Millar became the only horse-and-rider combination to win two World Cup finals with back-to-back victories in 1988 and 1989. They were also the first to claim the World Cup by winning all three segments of the competition. In both 1987 and 1991, they won the du Maurier Ltd. International at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, the world’s richest Grand Prix event.
Big Ben and Millar represented Canada in more than 30 Nations Cup events and were members of seven Nations Cup-winning teams. They competed in three Olympic Games and won two Pan-Am gold medals. Among their many other titles, Millar and his grand gelding claimed more than 40 victories in Grand Prix jumping events and collected more than $1.5 million in prize money.
Retiring from competition in 1994, Big Ben embarked on a cross-country tour to bid farewell to his loyal fans before settling down at Millar Brooke Farm near Perth, Ontario. There, he lived out a happy and active retirement until a bout of colic led to his death in 1999.
“Big Ben is ours in trust,” Millar said. “He really belongs to Canada. He touched the whole country.”