When Emily Moffitt made her British team debut at the European Showjumping Championships earlier this month, she had a secret weapon by her side – her long-term trainer, the Olympic champion Ben Maher.
Ben was instrumental in Emily’s father Neil initially buying her top ride, Winning Good, as she explains in an interview on episode 68 of The Horse & Hound Podcast.
Emily says: “We’ve had ‘Winnie’ since he was eight – he’s 12 now – and I actually never tried him. Ben tried him and called my dad and said, ‘You have to have this horse, he’s amazing.’ Ben never really gets that excited about that sort of thing, so my Dad said, ‘Ok, let’s do it.’”
Ben initially produced the horse.
Emily continues: “We all knew he was quite feisty and he can throw his head around a bit and he’s very strong, but I really needed that next step up, that next gear of a horse. Ben had Explosion W at the time, so he said I could take Winnie if I wanted to. I said to him I felt it was the right time and I’d be able to ride him.
“It was right from the start a great partnership. We had to play around with bits as he is strong and we have had our bumps in the road – he’s not the easiest by any means – but we just clicked and we have such a good bond and partnership. I call him and he pokes his head out, he’s all excited to see me and he nickers. He’s my best friend.”
Emily Moffitt: ‘Anything I needed, Ben Maher was there to help’
Emily explains how Ben helped her during the week at the Europeans.
“It’s really a team effort to get Winnie to be how he is and Ben really helps me a lot. I would not have the horse I have today without Ben. I don’t have the experience to know how to calm Winnie down or to know little tips and tricks I can do in the ring to settle his head shaking, just small things that make a difference with Winnie as he’s such a sensitive horse.
“Ben helped me work him every day. It’s so nice to have somebody there you’ve had a relationship with for so long. We’ve been training together for so long that it’s just somebody to lean on. Anything I needed, Ben was there to help me and it was really great.”
Ben was by Emily’s side to give her a last-minute hand the day she jumped clear in the final team round in Riesenbeck.
“I was finishing my last vertical in the warm-up and I could feel Winnie was doing something strange with his tongue, like maybe he’d put it over bit or done something like that,” says Emily. “I was like, ‘Oh no, Ben, can you come check?’ because he does have a tendency to play with his tongue a bit.
“Anyway, he sorted it out and he was like, ‘Okay, you’ve got to go in [now]’ and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is not the perfect way to go into the ring.’
“But I just took a deep breath and Di [Lampard, British performance manager] looked at me and she was like ‘You’ve got this’ and I just kind of thought, ‘You’re right, I do. This is what we do all the time and we’re so good at it and I do have this, we’ve totally got this.’
“I cantered to the first fence and Winnie was so in the zone and I just knew, I was like, ‘Oh yes, we’re jumping clear’. It was an awesome feeling.”
- Find out more about Emily’s British team debut by tuning in to episode 68 of The Horse & Hound Podcast here, or search “The Horse & Hound Podcast” in your favourite podcast app.
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