Ian Millar Honored with Hall’s Inaugural International Award at Induction Gala in Wellington
Each week on #HallOfFameThursday, Horse Network recognizes members of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame with an inductee’s plaque, historical photos and, on the first Thursday of every month, an article written by a Show Jumping Hall of Famer. This week, we recognize two new inductees and honor the first Canadian, Ian Millar.
Award-winning rider, trainer, and course designer, Anthony D’Ambrosio, and internationally respected official and clinician, Linda Allen, were inducted into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame during the Hall of Fame’s Induction Gala in Wellington, Florida on March 5. The Hall of Fame also honored Canadian showjumping legend, Ian Millar, as recipient of the Hall’s inaugural International Award.
“This was our second year hosting our annual induction ceremony as part of a sit-down dinner in Wellington and once again it was an incredible night that most of us will never forget,” said Show Jumping Hall of Fame chairman Peter Doubleday.
“Our sport’s history was on display with so many of our sport’s legends in attendance. It was truly a thrill and something we plan to build on each year.”
“While induction into the Hall of Fame is for Americans who have had a significant impact on the sport, we wanted to recognize some of the great international riders who also impact show jumping in this country,” Doubleday added. “With that in mind, we initiated our new International Award and we felt that there was no more worthy candidate to be the initial recipient than ‘Captain Canada,’ Ian Millar.”
Millar is the most decorated equestrian in Canadian history. A two-time World Cup champion, he competed in 10 Olympic Games, more than any athlete in any sport. He was awarded the Order of Canada in 1986, Ontario’s Athlete of the Year in 1989, and an honorary doctorate by the University of Guelph in 2005. Together with longtime partner, Big Ben, he was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and the Jump Canada Hall of Fame. Millar was also inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame.
The induction dinner, held at the Wanderers Club in Wellington, also recognized 12 others in attendance who have previously been inducted into the Hall of Fame including Olympic veterans Mary Chapot, Norman Dello Joio, Margie Engle, Leslie Howard, Anne Kursinski, Beezie Madden, Michael Matz, and Melanie Smith Taylor as well as David Distler, Peter Doubleday, Steve Stephens and former Olympic rider and current US chef d’equipe Robert Ridland.
Induction into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame is an honor bestowed annually upon select individuals whose contributions to the sport have set them apart and whose influence has had a significant impact on the sport of show jumping and the equestrian community.
It is because of their talents, efforts, accomplishments, and what they have brought to the sport, that the Election Committee, comprising some of the nation’s top riders, trainers and officials, elected D’Ambrosio and Allen as the class of 2022.
Anthony D’Ambrosio is an award-winning rider, trainer, and FEI “I” 4*-level course designer with more than 50 years of experience. As a rider, he had many successes, winning more than 30 Grand Prix including the Hampton Classic, USET Show Jumping Championship, International Jumping Derby, and the International Cup of Mexico.
D’Ambrosio set the Puissance high jump record twice – first in 1973 at the National Horse Show in Madison Square Garden where he jumped 7’4” aboard Sympatico, and then at the Washington International Horse Show in 1983 riding Sweet ‘n Low, clearing the wall set at 7’7 ½”, a record that still stands.
A member of the USET, D’Ambrosio began designing courses in 1995. He has created tests at some of the best venues in the sport, including the 2009 and 2015 FEI World Cup™ Finals in Las Vegas, and since 2009, and since 2009 at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida and since 2003 at Spruce Meadows in Canada, where he has also been the Technical Delegate.
Additionally, D’Ambrosio has served as Technical Delegate at numerous international competitions including the 2022 World Equestrian Games in Herning, Denmark, 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, 2010 World Cup Finals in Geneva, Switzerland, and 2012 World Cup Finals in s’Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands. In recognition of his work, D’Ambrosio was named the USHJA Course Designer of the Year in 2008 and 2010.
During his career, D’Ambrosio has sold four Olympic horses, three of which he developed from an early age, as well as many other Grand Prix winners. He also has a consulting business which provides guidance and knowledge to many of the top equine facilities in the country. He and his wife, Michael, are based out of Wild Horse Ranch in Red Hook, NY. They have a son, Cody and welcomed their granddaughter, Antonetta, in 2021.
Linda Allen has spent more than 60 years in equestrian sports. She began as a rider, reaching the Grand Prix level where she represented the U.S. in international competition and followed that with a career as an internationally respected official that saw her judge and design courses for some of the world’s premier events including the FEI World Cup Finals and Olympic Games.
Early in her career, Allen developed horses for, and competed at, the Grand Prix level throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe, including being a member of U.S. Nations Cup squads on multiple occasions.
Following her riding career, Allen became a USEF ‘R’ Jumper Course Designer and Judge, FEI Level 3 Judge and an FEI Level 4 Course Designer. This carried her to the sport’s highest level. Allen was Technical Delegate for the 1994 FEI World Equestrian Games (The Hague), 1999 Pan American Games (Winnipeg), three FEI World Cup Finals, the 1998 America’s Cup Junior and Young Rider Championships (Sao Paulo), and 2006 World Children’s Final (Calgary).
In 2007, Allen was selected as President of the Ground Jury for the FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegasand the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships. She has also served as President of the Ground Jury for other FEI events in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Allen also served on the Ground Jury for the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games and 2000 FEI World Cup Finals, as well as for other FEI events around the world.
It was perhaps as a Course Designer where Allen achieved her greatest fame. She designed courses at major events around the world including the 1996 Olympic Games, 1992 FEI World Cup Finals (Del Mar), 1999 World Breeding Championships for Young Horses (Belgium), 2003 Super League Nations Cup (Dublin), 2004 & 2005 Super League Nations Cup (Rotterdam), 2005 & 2006 North American Junior and Young Rider Championships (Lexington, VA) and 2007 World Children’s Final (Mexico).
Allen has also served as a Design Consultant for more than 50 equestrian facilities (commercial and private) throughout the U.S., Mexico and Canada and conducted clinics worldwide for riding, course design and judging.
She has served on the Board (often as an officer) of USEF, USET, USA Equestrian Trust, Young Jumper Futurity, Young Jumper Championships, Young Horse Trainers’ School, Monterey Horse Park, International Course Designers Council and others and has authored many articles for publications such as L’Année Hippique, The Chronicle of the Horse and EquestrianCoach.com. She also authored the book, 101 Jumping Exercises for Horse and Rider, and the DVD, The JumpSmart Guide to Course Building. Allen has received many honors and awards including the USEF Pegasus Medal of Honor, The Chronicle of the Horse’s Show Jumping Horseman of the Year, and the California Professional Horsemen’s Association (CPHA) Horsewoman of the Year, Special Achievement Award and Lifetime Achievement Award.
Allen has also been honored as Course Designer of the Year four times by the USEF and three times by the PCHA.
The Show Jumping Hall of Fame is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit charity that relies solely on contributions to operate. If you liked this story, please consider supporting its efforts to preserve our sport’s history. Donations can be made online at www.ShowJumpingHallofFame.net.