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Well-known horse trainer dies

PUBLISHED: 11:59 28 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:53 30 June 2010

A woman who spent 60 years training and breaking award winning in hand and ridden horses has died at the age of 90.

Joan McMillen, known as Mrs Mac, died peacefully on May 8.

A woman who spent 60 years training and breaking award winning in hand and ridden horses has died at the age of 90.

Joan McMillen, known as Mrs Mac, died peacefully on May 8.

Based at Church Farm in South Walsham, Mrs McMillen broke and schooled horses and ponies and also took part in show jumping events.

She broke in Derek Allhusen's Laurien, taught champion pony Royal Show, from the Chatherston Stud, how to jump before it went to compete in America in working hunter pony classes, and worked with Newmarket's Anne Hammond.

Mrs McMillen produced the Pony and Reserve Pony of the Year, Gems Signet, and Carbrooke Surprise a part- bred Arab which won the first Fredericks in hand championship at the Horse of the Year Show.

She also produced many other part bed and full bred Arabs including Ludo and Dadia and won the Winston Churchill Champions of Champions at White City International Show.

Other notable achievements included producing winning Norfolk stallion River Poaching and schooling Robinwood which took part in four Badminton Horse Trails in a row and was a reserve at the 1960 Olympic team.

Mrs McMillen worked with the North Norfolk Pony Club as a chief instructor and also enjoyed teaching youngsters how to ride.

She was born in 1919 and grew up in Kent before moving to Bicester, where she discovered her love of riding.

Her father Norman Valentine was hunt secretary to the Bicester and Warden Hill Hunt.

During the second world war she was a driver in the ATS and was stationed in Repton, Derbyshire.

After the war her family moved to South Walsham where Mrs McMillen began her long horse breaking and schooling career.

Mrs McMillen was also a gifted cook, enjoyed designing clothes and liked to grow her own vegetables and fruit for her family.

She also kept Pomeranians at her farm and could be seen walking them from her electric buggy.

Mrs McMillen leaves a daughter, two granddaughters and six great grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held on June 1 at All Saints Church, Horstead from 3pm.

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