Jumper - Big Ben

Jumper - Big Ben

Big Ben is undisputedly the most famous horse in Canadian Show Jumping history. Ridden to glory by Ian Millar, Big Ben captured the hearts and imaginations of fans worldwide with his bravery, heart and presence.Big Ben - courtesy Horse Publications Group

The huge chestnut gelding was imported to Canada in 1983 and a syndicate, Canadian Show Jumpers Unlimited Inc., was formed to buy Big Ben for Ian Millar. In the pair's illustrious career, they set countless records including becoming the first horse-rider combination to win back-to-back titles in the World Cup Final, doing so in 1988 and 1989.

Big Ben made three Olympic appearances in 1984, 1988 and 1992. He claimed both the Team and Individual Gold Medals at the 1987 Pan American Games and, in the same year, won the du Maurier International Grand Prix, the richest show jumping event in the world, at Spruce Meadows in Calgary. Big Ben won more than 40 Grand Prix events, represented Canada on more than 30 Nations' Cup teams, and was the first horse in North America to win in excess of $1.5 million in prize money.

During his long career, Big Ben survived two colic surgeries, each time bravely returning to the show ring with his trademark courage. In 1994, Big Ben was retired following a sentimental cross-Canada tour. In 1999, he was laid to rest at Millar Brooke Farm in Perth, ON.

Such was Big Ben's effect on the nation that his image was immortalized on a limited edition Canada Post stamp and, in 1996, he was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame, making him only the second non-human to be inducted, the other being racehorse legend, Northern Dancer.

A life-size bronze statue of Big Ben and Ian Millar stands in a park in downtown Perth, commemorating their invaluable contribution to the community, the country, and the sport of show jumping.

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