Ian Millar, equestrian, entrepreneur (b at Halifax, NS 6 Jan 1947). Ian Millar is the most successful competitor in the history of Canadian show jumping. First named to the Canadian Equestrian Team in 1971, he has represented Canada in numerous Nations' Cup competitions.
Ian Millar, equestrian, entrepreneur (b at Halifax, NS 6 Jan 1947). Ian Millar is the most successful competitor in the history of Canadian show jumping. First named to the Canadian Equestrian Team in 1971, he has represented Canada in numerous Nations' Cup competitions. He has also been a Canadian Show Jumping champion multiple times and he holds the record for the most OLYMPIC GAMES attendances of any Canadian.
Millar was the first Canadian rider to successfully defend the World Cup Final title, winning in 1988 at Gothenburg, Sweden and again in 1989 at Tampa, US, aboard the legendary BIG BEN on both occasions. (He placed 2nd on Big Ben in 1986, also at Gothenburg). Millar has ridden for Canada in numerous world championships since his first appearance with Brother Sam in 1978, and he has been a regular feature at world cup events ever since.
Millar has experienced significant success in Pan American Games competition. In 1979, at San Juan, Puerto Rico, Millar won team silver and individual bronze medals; in 1983, at Caracas, Venezuela, Millar won a team silver medal; in 1987, at Indianapolis, US, Millar won both individual and team gold medals riding Big Ben; in 1991, at Havana, Cuba, he won a team silver medal; and in 1999, at Winnipeg, he had an incredible come-from-behind victory riding Ivar to win the individual gold medal in addition to his team bronze medal. In 2007, at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he contributed to a team silver medal riding the horse In Style.
Since his first Olympic competition in 1971, Millar has become a Canadian Olympic legend. He holds the record for competing in more Olympics than any other Canadian athlete, and he is currently tied with Austrian sailor Hubert Raudaschl for the title internationally. Named to every Olympic team since 1971, Millar competed in all except 1980, solely due to the boycott of the Moscow Olympics. In particular, Millar and Big Ben represented Canada in three consecutive Games from 1984 to 1992.
Though he has enjoyed success on the international scene, an Olympic medal eluded him until 2008, when Canada's equestrian athletes became the surprise winners at the Beijing Olympics: Millar and his team of Eric LAMAZE, Mac Cone and Jill Henselwood won silver, Canada's first medal in the sport since 1976. Millar and his team had less success in the 2012 Olympics in London. With teammates Lamaze and Henselwood, the Canadians finished out of medal contention in fifth place. In individual competition, Millar again failed to qualify for a medal, finishing in ninth place.
Millar is the most decorated rider in Canadian history. In 1986 Millar was awarded the ORDER OF CANADA, and in 1989 he was named Ontario's Male Athlete of the Year. In 1990 Millar co-authored a book about his show-jumping career entitled Riding High. In 1996 both Millar and Big Ben were inducted into CANADA'S SPORTS HALL OF FAME, rendering Big Ben the second non-human to be inducted, the other being thoroughbred racing legend NORTHERN DANCER. Overall, Millar had his greatest success partnered with Big Ben, who retired in 1994 after 11 seasons on the international circuit.
In addition to competing, Millar has coached some of Canada's most successful show-jumping riders, including 1986 World Champion Gail GREENOUGH and 1999 Pan American Games team bronze medallist Jill Henselwood. Millar lives and trains and operates, Millar Brooke Farm in Perth, Ontario. His two children, Jonathon and Amy, have both represented Canada in international team competition, and his late-wife Lynn supported his riding career until her death in 2008.
See alsoEQUESTRIAN SPORTS.