Big Ben: A Towering Legacy in Show Jumping

Celebrating the Gentle Giant with Back-to-Back World Cup Wins

On April 20, 1976, the world of show jumping was gifted with a horse who would become an icon of resilience, strength, and heart. Big Ben, a Belgian Warmblood gelding, rose to fame not only for his impressive stature but also for his extraordinary achievements on the global stage, including back-to-back World Cup wins. This blog post pays homage to Big Ben, whose legacy extends beyond his victories, embodying the spirit of partnership and the pinnacle of equestrian excellence.


Early Years and Ascension

Big Ben's journey to the top of the show jumping world was marked by a combination of innate talent and a remarkable partnership with Canadian rider Ian Millar. Together, they formed an almost telepathic connection, navigating courses with a precision and understanding that was palpable to all who watched them compete. Big Ben's early years hinted at the greatness to come, but it was his international successes that solidified his status as one of the sport's all-time greats.


World Cup Dominance

 Big Ben's name became synonymous with victory in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a period that saw him achieve an incredible feat: winning the World Cup Finals in 1988 and 1989. These back-to-back victories in 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, and Tampa, Florida, showcased not just Big Ben's jumping prowess but also his competitiveness, consistency, and the extraordinary bond he shared with Millar. Each victory was a testament to Big Ben's ability to perform under pressure and rise to the occasion on the world's biggest stages.


Beyond the Wins

Big Ben's impact on the sport of show jumping extended far beyond his victories and accolades. He was a beloved figure, known for his gentle nature and the unique personality that endeared him to fans around the world. His resilience in the face of challenges, including overcoming serious health issues, spoke to his indomitable spirit and will to compete.


Moreover, Big Ben's legacy is also a story of partnership and trust between horse and rider. Ian Millar, one of Canada's most decorated equestrians, often spoke of Big Ben not just as a horse he rode but as a true partner and friend. Their relationship exemplified the deep bond that can form through years of training, competition, and shared experiences.


A Lasting Legacy

Big Ben passed away in 1999, but his legacy lives on, both in the hearts of those who witnessed his incredible career and in the annals of equestrian sport. He was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, a rare honor for an equine athlete, underscoring his significance beyond show jumping. Memorials and tributes continue to celebrate his life and achievements, ensuring that the story of Big Ben remains a source of inspiration for future generations of riders and horses.



Reflecting on Big Ben's storied career, we are reminded of the beauty and drama of equestrian sports, the incredible athletes—both human and equine—who grace its stages, and the timeless stories of partnership, perseverance, and triumph they create. Big Ben, the gentle giant with back-to-back World Cup wins, remains a towering figure in the history of show jumping, a symbol of excellence that continues to inspire awe and admiration.

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