Source: Equestrian Canada
Heartfelt condolences to the friends and family of the late Susan Grange, who passed away on October 19, 2017 at the age of 63. She succumbed to complications related to a terminal illness, which she had been battling with courage and strength.
Grange was tremendously active as an athlete, owner, and bolster of equestrian sport in Canada. At age 12, little did she know that accompanying a friend to a riding lesson would kick off a life-long passion for horses. Grange competed internationally in show jumping until an injury in her 30s led her to turn her primary focus to ownership and breeding.
Grange purchased over 500 acres of farmland in Cheltenham, ON in 1974. The property was dubbed Lothlorien in reference to the woodland valley of the Elves in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. True to its namesake, Lothlorien has become an operation so exceptional it borders on mythical, producing countless world-class horses. From 1977 to 1989, the farm also hosted riders from across North America at the Cheltenham Gold Cup Horse Show, which included an FEI World Cup Qualifier.
Grange opened a second location in Wellington, FL, named Lothlorien South, to accommodate the farm’s horses during their southern migration to show and train over the winter. Despite juggling two farms, scores of horses, numerous dogs, and a growing family, Susan managed to remain hands-on in all aspects of her life.
“Sue liked being involved on a daily basis with her family, her horses, and her business affairs,” said Canadian Olympian Terrance Millar, who operated his stables out of Lothlorien from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s, and also advised Susan on horse purchases. “She was very comfortable taking on challenges and figuring out how things worked or how she wanted things to run. She was very comfortable with taking the reins.”
Grange also owned top horses used by the Canadian Equestrian Team, including the late In Style (Acord II x Lord), a renowned Holsteiner gelding who was Ian Millar’s partner on the 2008 Beijing Olympic team that earned silver medal for Canada. Millar’s current top mount, the 14-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, Dixson (Vigo D’arsouilles x Olisco) was also owned by Susan, along with her daughter, Ariel. Millar and Dixson contributed to Canada’s Team Gold Medal at the 2015 Pan American Games.
“It was a tremendous thrill for Sue to have two horses achieve that in the ring,” Terrance Millar said of Dixson and In Style’s international success.
The superior quality of Grange’s horses is recognized around the world. As the current rider for Lothlorien, Daniel Coyle of Ireland has been racking up top results with many of Grange’s horses, including Martha Louise, Fortis Fortuna, Somerset, Cita, Grafton and Dillinger.
In 2005, Grange was inspired by her mother, Audrey Campbell, to expand her equestrian interests to Standardbred racing. She partnered with Audrey to purchase Standardbred mares Belovedangel, Please Me Please, and KiKiKatie to breed with the famous pacing stallion Rocknroll Hanover. In addition, her stallion Well Said earned many titles during a 2009 sweep that included the 3-Year-Old North American Pacer of the Year, Meadowlands Pace, Pepsi North America Cup, and the Little Brown Jug.
“Sue’s just been a pillar of the Canadian equestrian world for many years,” said Terrance Millar. “Lothlorien is a major force in show jumping.”
Grange’s grandfather was Canadian media mogul, Roy Thomson. In addition to being an accomplished horsewoman, Grange embodied the philanthropic spirit that characterizes the Thomson family. In 2004 she joined forces with her mother, Audrey and sisters, Linda Campbell and Gaye Farncombe to donate $67.5 million to The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto, ON. After their mother’s passing in 2007, the sisters continued to uphold the tradition of giving by donating $30 million to Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in 2011.
“The Canadian equestrian community was extremely fortunate to have such a champion as Susan Grange,” said EC President Meg Krueger. “She represented our nation across the globe with poise, passion, and an innate wisdom regarding horses. Susan’s tireless efforts – whether as a supporter and horse owner with the Canadian Equestrian Team, breeder, or stable manager – advanced the state of the equine industry in Canada, and her presence will be greatly missed.”
Grange was an icon in her local Greater Toronto Area community, as well as for the Canadian equestrian community nationwide. Her absence will be felt heavily by many.
Grange is survived by her husband, John Grange, and her four children and their families.
The family held a private service in her memory. A celebration of life will follow in the spring. Please consider making a donation to Right to Play or Headwaters Health Care Centre in lieu of flowers.
Photo: Celebrating Canada’s Team Gold Medal at the 2015 Pan American Games, where Ian Millar was partnered with Dixson, owned by Susan and Ariel Grange. (L-R) Ian Millar, John Grange, Ariel Grange, Susan Grange. Photo: Starting Gate Communications