Michael Ansell

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Colonel Sir
Mike Ansell
Sir Michael Picton Ansell.jpg
Ansell in March 1951.
Personal information
Full nameMichael Picton Ansell
DisciplineShow jumping
Born(1905-03-26)26 March 1905
Curragh, County Kildare, Ireland
Died17 February 1994(1994-02-17) (aged 88)
Brighton, England

Colonel Sir Michael Picton Ansell, CBE, DSO (26 March 1905 – 17 February 1994) was a soldier, show jumping rider, polo player, and horse show administrator.

Early life[edit]

Ansell was born on 26 March 1905 at the Curragh, County Kildare.[1] His father George Ansell died in the First World War, while serving as a lieutenant colonel in the British Army.[2] After attending St Michael's Westgate-in-Sea and Wellington he went to Royal Military College, Sandhurst.

Military career[edit]

In 1924 he was commissioned into the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards[1][2] and in the 1930s was a cavalry officer, show jumping rider,[1] and international polo player. He was a Commander by 1935.[2] His service number was 30796.

In France in March 1940, during World War II, he was given charge of the 1st Lothians and Border Horse, becoming the British Army's youngest commanding officer at the time.[1] He won the Distinguished Service Order (DSO), but was shortly afterwards wounded in the hand and eyes by "friendly fire", blinding him permanently, and then became a prisoner of war (POW).[1] All four fingers on his injured left hand were later amputated.[2] He was repatriated from a German POW camp in 1943.[1]

From 1957 to 1962 he was Colonel of the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards.[3]


An invitation to take up the position of chairman of the British Showjumping Association led to him being credited with revitalising the sport.[1] He restarted the Royal International Horse Show and initiated the Horse of the Year Show.[1] He was Chairman of the British Horse Society[4] and Chaired the British Showjumping Association from 1945 until 1964.[2] He was the first president of the British Equestrian Federation.[4]


In 1967, when his address was given as "Pillhead House, Bideford", he was High Sheriff of Devon. He was President of St Dunstan's, a charity for blind servicemen, from 1977 to 1986.[1]

Picton was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1951 New Year Honours[5] and a Knight Bachelor (Kt) in the 1968 New Year Honours.[6][1]

He appeared on the television programme This Is Your Life on 28 March 1960,[citation needed] and as a castaway on the BBC Radio programme Desert Island Discs on 14 July 1973.[7]

His autobiography, Soldier On, was published in 1973. It had a foreword by the Duke of Edinburgh.[8] His final book, Leopard: the story of my horse, featured a foreword by Prince Charles.[9]

In 1977, he was a recipient of the Silver Olympic Order.[10]


He died on 17 February 1994 in Brighton, England, aged 88.[1]


  • —— (1951). Show Jumping: Obstacles and Courses. Collins.
  • —— (1954). Jumping. Naldrett Press.
  • —— (1973). Soldier On. Peter Davies. ISBN 978-0432005866.
  • —— (1974). Riding High. Peter Davies. ISBN 978-0432005873.
  • —— (1980). Leopard: the story of my horse. Quartilles International Limited. ISBN 978-0903021173.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Cecil, Blacker (2 March 1994). "Obituary: Sir Michael Ansell". The Independent. Archived from the original on 12 May 2022. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e Olstrom, Clifford E. (2011). Undaunted by Blindness (eBook) (2nd ed.). Perkins School for the Blind. pp. unpaginated. ISBN 9780982272190.
  3. ^ "5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards". Regiments.org. Archived from the original on 27 February 2007. Retrieved 6 August 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  4. ^ a b "Laureates". British Horse Society. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
  5. ^ British Empire :"No. 39104". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 1950. p. 10.
  6. ^ United Kingdom list: "No. 44484". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 1967. p. 1.
  7. ^ "Desert Island Discs - Castaway : Colonel Sir Michael Ansell". BBC Online. BBC. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
  8. ^ Ansell, Mike (1973). Soldier On. Peter Davies. ISBN 978-0432005866.
  9. ^ Ansell, Michael (20 July 2014). "Leopard the story of my horse". Goodreads.com. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
  10. ^ "Michael Ansell". Olympedia. Retrieved 3 December 2021.

External links[edit]