Captain Canada will Continue to Compete

Source: Equestrian Canada

A staple of the Canadian Equestrian Team for decades, Ian Millar of Perth, ON, has recently announced his decision to step down from competing on Team Canada and in major games. The show jumping star will continue to compete individually in national events and in some international competitions.

In an interview on May 16, 2019, EC Director of Sport, Jon Garner, clarified, “There’s a little bit of misunderstanding in the initial release about [Millar] retiring from international competition. What he has done is step down from competing in major games. He is still going to ride and compete nationally and also individually in international competition,” he said. “He’s just not going to be on the team or go to any major games. It’s a partial step down and in many ways it’s sort of clearing the pathway for the next group to come forward.”

The Equestrian Canada press release of May 1, 2019 described Millar’s many achievements: “It’s hard to put into words what Ian Millar means to the sport of show jumping in Canada,” said Garner. “Right from the early days of his career, he transcended the sport and quickly became a household name from coast-to-coast. You don’t have to be a horse fan to know who Ian Millar is and what he means to Canadian sport.”

Ian Millar Step-Down from International Competition

Partnered with In Style, Millar was an essential member of the Canadian Show Jumping Team that captured the silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Photo: Cealy Tetley

Millar’s accomplishments on the world stage are too numerous to list in full. A ten-time Olympian, he holds the world record for the most Olympic Games appearances of any athlete, in any sport. This includes his 2008 appearance, where, partnered with In Style, he helped the Canadian Show Jumping Team bring home the silver medal from the Beijing Olympics.  In addition, Millar has 10 medals from the Pan American Games to his credit, including two individual and two team gold, and has earned a record 12 Canadian Show Jumping Championship titles and amassed over 150 grand prix wins. Millar is also a three-time winner of the coveted CP International Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows, including the $1.5 Million edition, presented by Rolex, in 2014 aboard Dixson. In fact, Millar has won over $3.5 million at the prestigious Spruce Meadows venue alone.

A member of the Canadian Equestrian Team since the 1970s, Millar became a household name with his legendary partner Big Ben. Together, they dominated the international show jumping scene for two decades, winning everything from back-to-back FEI World Cup Finals indoors (1988 and 1989) to grand prix derbies in big outdoor fields (including the CP International at Spruce Meadows in 1987 and 1991).

“Representing Canada many times over my career has been my greatest honour,” said Millar. “Each time I wore the red team jacket was very special to me, and the fact that I was able to share this experience with so many great riders is a testament to the quality of horsemen and horsewomen here in our country.”

Ian Millar Step-Down from International Competition

Millar catapulted into stardom with Big Ben. Together, the legendary combination dominated the international show jumping scene for two decades. Photo: Canadian Press Images

A well-respected horseman at home and around the world, Millar was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1986 and together with Big Ben, was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1996. He was also presented with an honourary doctorate from the University of Guelph in 2005 and joined the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 2013. Millar’s extraordinary career was also honoured by EC with the Gold Medal Award for 2018.

While Millar may be partially stepping down from international competition, his love for the sport and horses is second to none, and he will remain as involved as ever. At the age of 72, he continues to be enthusiastic about coaching and developing young horses, stating, “Over the past few years, I have found myself more and more drawn toward working with young horses and riders, and I am excited to expand my coaching to share my knowledge and passion with the next generation.”

“We are proud and grateful to have Ian’s involvement in several athlete development programs that will allow equestrians, from the grassroots to the world stage, to benefit from his incredible depth of knowledge and talent,” said Garner. “There is an opportunity for the next generation of team athletes who grew up in the sport with Ian as their icon, to ride under the maple leaf with similar pride.”

Main photo: Ten-time Olympian, Ian Millar of Perth, ON, has announced his retirement from team and major games competition but will continue to compete. Photo: Cealy Tetley