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Paris 2024 Is the Main Goal for Ben Maher’s Top Groom Derren Lake

Ben Maher’s top groom Derren Lake has traveled the world and worked for some of the best riders with some of the best horses. He has seen legends at work, two-legged as well as four. He is 53 years old, currently working for one of the best jumper riders of our time, and he is part of the team that looks after superstar Explosion W. Last Saturday night, January 13, 2024, he won the groom’s prize at Wellington International. He has one big dream: going to the Olympics.

“It’s very nice from the people who sponsor the groom’s prize at WEF,” said Lake a few days after his rider Ben Maher and his charge Enjeu de Grisien won the $140,000 Southern Arches CSI3* Grand Prix in the first “Saturday Night Lights” grand prix of the season at Wellington International. “A groom’s prize shows appreciation and respect for what the grooms do, and it is very nice for the grooms that they get something like that. It boosts their motivation. It’s a nice feeling to be put in front of a crowd and get a check.” 

Love for the Sport and the Horses

Born and raised in England, Lake didn’t get involved with horses until he was 19 years old. But he has never looked back and still loves the sport and the animals. Over the past 35 years, he has worked for some legends like Nelson and Rodrigo Pessoa, Aloïs Pollmann-Schweckhorst, Ian Millar, Denis Lynch, and now Olympic individual gold medalist Ben Maher.

Derren Lake (right) is part of Olympic individual medalist Ben Maher’s international powerhouse team. Photos courtesy of Jon Stroud Media.

“I love the sport,” said Lake. “I can tell you that Ben is a very motivated rider, but I am right there with him. The motivation and the success of the sport keep the drive there. To look after such wonderful animals is amazing in itself. Everyone has their own personality and of course, working for such a good rider is very exciting. It does mean we always have to give 150%, but we do our best.” 

About WEF

“The Winter Equestrian Festival is a very nice show, but it is a very hard season because you have a lot of everything here: national, international, amateurs, clients, hunters, equitation; everyone can ride here,” Lake said. “So, there is much more going on than at a regular international horse show. I love being in Wellington; it is a super place to be. It’s easy actually. You live 5 or 10 minutes from your barn, the show program is very demanding, but the lifestyle is very nice.”

Horse Care at the Horse Show

We asked Lake about his care of the horses at a horse show, like last Saturday when his horse Enjeu de Grisien jumped, and won, the Grand Prix.

“We take them out of their stall two or three times to stretch their legs, and we make sure they are comfortable in the stall,” he said. “We have a magnetic blanket we put on two times, once before and once after showing. Of course, we give them sweets, and we just try to keep the horse chill-free. 

The biggest goal for Darren Lake and his British rider Ben Maher is the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“When they come back from the arena, we wash them; we’ll gently shampoo the legs or shampoo the whole body, then dry the legs and put ice boots on,” he continued. “Then it depends on what we want to put on the legs, whether it is Uptite, Tendonil, Arnica, or something else. We hoof pack their feet with Epsom salt. Hoof packing and ice we do literally after every class.”

Horse Care in Wellington

“What’s very important in Wellington is that the legs are very dry before you put them back in the stall,” Lake said. “You have sandrush that could irritate the skin, so you try to prevent that. And if you dry them well, you normally prevent skin issues. You can use a towel, put fans on them and use baby powder so the skin stays soft and dries well.”

Paris 2024

Derren Lake will be in Wellington until the end of the season. “The goal is to do well and to win classes. But the main goal this year is Paris 2024; that’s the main goal for Ben and for me as well. Ben has a string of great horses, so we will do everything in our power to keep them feel their best and to be as prepared as possible to do well at the Olympics.”

Stay tuned for more insights and stories from Derren Lake in the HorseGrooms podcast that is soon to be aired.

January 17, 2024


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