Ben Maher may have the showjumping world at his feet as the popular British showjumper reigns as the new Olympic champion with a world-beating string of horses that includes the superstar Explosion W.
But rewind 14 years and for a while things looked pretty bleak for the Hertfordshire rider as he reveals to H&H showjumping editor Jennifer Donald in this week’s third and final festive edition of The Horse & Hound Podcast, currently supported by Veredus and its UK distributor Zebra.
In this special bumper episode, Ben chats about the wonderful horses who have helped shape his outstanding career – from Explosion W and Cella to his 148cm ride Dusty Boy. But he has one horse in particular to thank for helping to turn his life around when Ben was in his mid-20s and considering hanging up his boots for good.
“Rolette came to me at a time when I was questioning whether I wanted to stay fully in the sport,” he explains.
“It was a moment when I wasn’t sure if I could find a way to make it work as a job, to make it pay and to find my own way. So I’d actually started to look at other jobs where I could carry on riding, but to make money in a different world if you like, and potentially just have showjumping as a hobby.”
Ben Maher: “Within 12 months we were at the Olympics”
But, says Ben, Daniel Paul’s Dutch-bred Lester x Voltaire mare was dropped off at his stables after a life-changing phone call.
“She got sent to me as a nice horse and she was very nice natured,” says Ben. “Within 12 months we found ourselves at the Olympic Games.
“My first Olympics was a dream come true,” says Ben. “I was very young at the time, especially compared with the other riders on the team, so I was young and naive – although that’s sometimes an advantage!
“Rolette jumped amazing, we had some good team rounds then I was clear in the first round of the individual final and I went into the second round – it was a different format back then – and unfortunately after a couple of jumps something went a little bit wrong with her and she had a few jumps down. That was very disappointing because I felt we had a good chance there, albeit at my first Olympics.
“But it definitely helped give me experience for more recent times.”
How different Ben’s life story could have been, had it not been for Rolette…
Hear more from Ben Maher as he chats passionately about Explosion W, Tripple X III, Alfredo and even first pony Dougal in this week’s Festive episode of The Horse & Hound Podcast – listen here or search “The Horse & Hound Podcast” in your favourite podcast app.
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