Behind the scenes of the equestrian section of the Otensky military school

A little less than 24 months ago, the equestrian section opened its doors at the Lycée d’Othon in Saone-et-Loire. A real homecoming for this facility, which has housed horses for over a century.

That day we were hoping for sunshine for the filming of En Terre Animale. But it was a thick icy fog that stayed with us all morning.

In fact, a slight disappointment is quickly compensated by the impeccable organization of filming.

If military rigor is sometimes denounced, it is also surprisingly convenient when a predetermined program is followed literally.

When we arrived at the courtyard of the military school, we were warmly welcomed by Colonel Tryke, the corps commander, and Carl Tanguy, the director of the institution.

We are joined for coffee by two excellent horses in the main courtyard of this former monastery of the seminary of Autun, converted in 1885 into a military cavalry school.

This is an event for us, for horse lovers, for students and for the city of Autun to see horses again at this place after 136 years.

Colonel Pierre Truquet, commander

The military gymnasium accepts a hundred students from the second to the last year, students who do not necessarily want to become soldiers.

Pupils receive traditional education specific to the national education system with teachers from the national education system.

Only one thing changes from a “traditional” high school: the rigor and background of the students present, who are mostly from military families living in the region.

Over the past two years, with the establishment of the equestrian section, they have been able to opt for an undergraduate riding option, an opportunity that has proven to be very successful and is also open to students at the Bonaparte High School in Autun. .

Horse riding is a passion, it is my joy of life. It’s also an additional bachelor’s degree, generally a good mark, and it’s easier and more enjoyable than math.

All students live in a boarding house, so a lot of time passes between two returns home. In addition to the opportunity to get a good mark in the bachelor’s degree, the equestrian section is also a breath of fresh air for students. It’s a good time to get some fresh air outside the walls of the establishment and share real moments of complicity and happiness with the horses.

It allows us to escape, to leave the school, where we still lead the same lifestyle. We come here to relax, we are all very happy to spend time with horses.

In the equestrian center, two young military women take care of the horses. They are called “healing riders”. Every day they keep about forty horses.

I am a real horse lover, I started riding at the age of 3. Every day is different, I could not imagine my life without a horse next to me.

On this day, chef Jean-Francois Mason, head of the arena, leads the obstacle course. And if the equestrian complex is also open to civilians, then it always “by magic” and delicately manages the sessions.

To ride a horse well is like getting good grades in school: you have to be strict, exemplary, honest.

Chef Jean-Francois Mason, master horseman

In addition to students and their families, the equestrian center is also open to civilians through the Autunois Morvan association, which offers all kinds of sports and leisure activities.

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