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Different but the Same - horsework here and abroad

Published: 10/13/2010
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By Maddy Butcher

"Enough about me, let's talk about you for a while."
The lyric is from an Alanis Morissette song, but it works for me today...
I asked my French friends to provide some feedback from their trip to Maine earlier this year. Here are some comments from my friend, Anne-Laure Goursaud.

Goursaud works at Centre Equestre du Bois de Soeuvres where she teaches and helps manage the facility. It is owned by Axel and Dominique Delahaye.

Bois de Soeuvres has 26 horses and 13 ponies. Nearly all of them are used in the lesson program. About 400 riders regularly visit Bois de Soeuvres and they range in age from four to 50 years old. More than 40 riders compete actively, but most ride for pleasure.

As a child, Goursaud learned and excelled at riding while living in the West Indies. She has been riding for over two decades and has competed at many levels. The accompanying photos are of her and my horses, Peppermint and Brooke.

Here are some of her thoughts, translated as well as I could manage from French.
To read about the visit and watch our video, click here.

I learned on this trip that horses are horses and true horsemen are true horsemen. They may be in France or the United States. It makes no difference.
When you think about it, we look for the same thing everywhere: respect, submission, well-being, and a connection.
Yes, there are different methods in the States, but even within a region in France, you will find many different methods from barn to barn.

English riding is a sport so one demands from a horse to be collected and at the top of his form. I speak of English riding, but even there there are differences – jumping, dressage, TREC, endurance – each discipline demands a different rigueur but in the end, we want to arrive at the same desired result – the horse is good in his head, good on his feet, good in his body.

With Western riding, the horse is above all a work horse and the horse must be ready to work in the field so the attitude and the spirit is more natural..

Wow – the Western saddle is so much different! The contact with the legs is not the same.
It takes practice to feel at ease and get used to the difference.

Your horses are used to you so it shouldn’t be surprising that people from outside bother them or that it’s difficult to adjust to strangers.
For example, you thought that Shea would be the most calm. But in the end, it was Shea who had the most difficulty with new people.

Here, at Bois de Soeuvres, the horses are trained to tolerate any rider, from the most beginner to the most advanced.
We do have the same experience between club horses and boarded horses, who are used to just one rider.
Your horses are still like ours: each one has her character, her temperament, her personality. They are all different.

To finish, I appreciate that you act the same with your horses as I do with mine: une main de fer dans un gant de velours (an iron hand in a velvet glove). The horses must be well-schooled and have respect for the one who cares for them. And a confidence/trust must be established between ourselves and our horses.

I have my work cut out for me with Pablo, my new horse. He has had some bad past habits. Like your experience with Brooke.

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Again Maddy, Thank you for doing what you have with the beautiful Brooke. Vince

"A canter is the cure for every evil" - Benjamin Disraeli, The Young Duke