Back in October I wrote a blog listing the 50 greatest horses, I thought I would look into them in more detail as there are some that I only know a bit about. The first, though, is one of my two ALL TIME favourites ..... Milton :)
Milton always seemed to float in the ring, whether trotting, cantering or jumping he always seemed to hardly touch the ground. His colour made him stand out but it was the way he carried himself and the amazing presence he had which really made him special to watch.
He made every jump seem effortless and was always so neat and tidy over the jumps. He knew how special he was too, you could see it in his eye and his 'swagger' when he came in the ring.
Milton's sire was Marius and his dam Aston Answer, although both had competed and had jumping bloodlines neither were hugely talented or gave an idea as to how successful he would be. He won numerous Grand Prix around the world, won European Gold individually and as part of a team, won World Cup finals and many, many classes at HOYS.
However, I think it is the story of his first rider that initially made him stand out. Caroline Bradley rode Marius and with him won the Queen Elizabeth II Cup in 1978. She bought Milton in December 1977 for £1000 (expensive at that time) when he was 6 months old. Caroline was based in Warwickshire but in 1983 she died suddenly while competing at Suffolk County Show, aged 37 years.
Milton went to the showjumper Steven Hadley (who now commentates) where he competed successfully and progressed to Grade A classes whilst he was still a 6 year old. Then he had a clipping accident where his tendon was badly damaged. After an operation and several months rest, Milton finally found his way to John Whitaker - and the rest is history!
The bigger the jumps the better Milton jumped, he seemed to love every minute and everyone loved to watch him. The enormous roar from the crowd when he went into the ring made him perform even better - this from a horse that would shy at a crisp packet!
Milton was a cheeky, naughty horse. Not easy to hack out because he would shy at everything, he once shied at a crisp packet and ended up in a ditch. He was frightened of hose pipes, hated being clipped, very difficult to have his tail pulled and his girth tightened. He would also either break or go under the chain put across his stable door at shows and wander up and down. Milton was brilliant at removing his rugs but leaving them in one piece, even with tummy straps!
He also had a 'party piece' which he performed when he was really excited, he leaped in the air with all 4 feet off the ground!
Milton retired at Olympia in 1994, sadly he died 4 years later from colic :(
A few years ago I realised that Aston Answer's sire was Any Questions and that he also sired St George - Chesney's sire.
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Until next time!