What is a rider?

Since real riders and riders have always been able to understand the well-being of a horse without even naming it, it is more than important to understand this concept and respond to this definition for any rider. What is a real horseman/woman? Has this design been lost over time? What does this have to do with horse welfare? It’s about Eric Louradour, rider, instructor, writer, breeder and director of Elo Jump, for whom the status of a rider is more than a philosophy, a true art of living.

“The rider, who is both a poor aristocrat and an educated peasant, hardly speaks, does not open up, never makes sudden movements and has the caution of an exile. If he expresses himself, it is through understatement and exaggeration. He is not a talker, he is an observer. He is so accustomed to understanding these great silent ones, which are horses, to suspect their joys and unspoken sufferings, to live with them intuitively, to be felt by them, that he came to the point that he maintained relations with humanity of the same nature. He does not see you, he evaluates you and examines you with his eye (…). » This is how Jérôme Garcin, the writer and the horseman, or the horseman and the writer, defines the horseman*.
Therefore, it is understandable that what was innate in these horse lovers could be lost over time. How to explain what is in our blood? In our flesh? In our culture? Moreover, why explain it? For the rider, the present is so natural that he probably does not know that not everyone has inherited this feeling, this knowledge, this sensitivity. Also, new generations, unfortunately, did not always find teachers who could teach them, in addition to riding, to listen to their horses, to hear their silence, subtle language, signs of communication …

Rider, instructor, writer, breeder, CEO of Elo Jump, Eric Louradour is a passionate advocate for the welfare of horses and his philosophy has always been based on this foundation as proof. A renowned rider, he explains his vision for this concept and the fundamental need for its development for the future of the sector.

How would you define a horse as male or female?
“It’s pretty simple about someone who puts the horse ahead of their personality. One who, wishing to succeed, strives to better know and understand the animal. From this teaching flow practices that go in the right direction.”

Do you think there are still male and female horses today?
“Unfortunately, this concept has been lost, in particular due to the evolution of the equestrian sector, which has disrupted a lot. For decades, we wanted to democratize riding so badly that we popularized it. Federations, whatever they are, and a large number of professionals push their licensees so hard to compete that people become bulimic about it. In fact, we spend much less time at home to study. This is one of the biggest problems in our industry. Instructor training seems to me to have been revised downwards. They should be taught the real basics and informed about animal welfare and the importance of actually knowing the horse. The problem arises from basic training that is no longer at a sufficient level. And today we want to fight the effect, not the cause, however, the latter is simple: the training of instructors is bad, and we need to improve it.”

Are we born or become riders?
“Obviously, everyone’s sensitivity is different. Some people who have more sensitivity can approach the drawing of male and female horses more easily and naturally. On the other hand, this can be very well learned. It is also through the training of instructors that we can improve relationships between people and animals and disseminate best practices.”

What advice would you give to a young rider who would like to approach him?
“Firstly, I would tell him not to rush. Today, students and teachers often want to drive too fast. Then I would insist on not comparing myself to others and on the importance of learning the basics of riding like a horse.”

“We wanted to democratize horseback riding so much that we popularized it.”

What exactly are these essential reasons?
“It’s just working on the basics. For example, to have a good position and a good landing. I ask him not for the pleasure of inflicting pain on the rider, but for his safety. a good trim, he will be able to follow his horse and respond quickly to his reactions. Also, in many other sports, until you reach a certain level, you will not be able to move to the next level. with horses. Personally, with my students, I do not accept any compromises, everyone respects me, because they know that I was tough and demanding, and gradually they understand that it was useful for them. This slower and more progressive approach to riding allows them to be more successful.”

Have you ever thrown in the towel with some students or were you surprised?
“In my forty years of career, I have known only two failures with students: the first refused to listen to me in managing the efforts of her steed, and the second lacked honesty. Working together requires mutual respect!”

Paradoxically, we are seeing growing public pressure to respect animal welfare, even though that fundamental concept of the rider has disappeared.
How do you explain it? Do you think our sport is in danger?
“We want to create a good image of the environment and are so afraid of being judged that we talk about animal welfare all the time. Talking about it, everyone gives their recipe: for some, it will lead to cycling without the slightest effort. , for others without shoes, for others an ethological approach, etc. However, in our sport there is no commonality, and the rider is able to understand each horse individually and find what suits them best. be an alarmist, because I always remain confident, but it is certain that the animalists are becoming more and more powerful. Their dream is that we do not demand anything more from the animal, while the rider is precisely able to know and accept the limits of his set.

What do you think about “certificate of commitment and knowledge” for future horses and pets voted in the National Assembly November last year under the Animal Welfare Act (see box) ?
“That’s good, but I’ve been watching so many drifts for a long time … Many decide to take on a horse, not understanding what this entails. Many imagine that all the horses living in the meadow are happy: this is not true. .We see a lot of horses in poor condition, very often alone, without shelter to protect from insects and bad weather. This is clearly akin to abandonment! People are not sufficiently aware of the maintenance of a horse. Proper care is expensive, So why do we believe that everyone can ride, compete and own a horse • If we continue in this direction, we “will automatically be subject to remarks or criticism from animal associations or even mere newcomers.”

However, was it better before?
“Not. We have evolved anyway, and that’s good. But this evolution took place at two speeds. We didn’t ask ourselves the right questions and, above all, we don’t want to change anything. talk about it, and I find it a little sad, both for horses and for the equestrian world, where dissonant voices are not welcome. Nevertheless, criticism is useful and important for everyone, including federations!”

You yourself were trained in the USA, where you were able to make sure that the teaching first passed through an in-depth knowledge of the horse and absolute mastery of the basics. before a possible orientation towards competition… Similarly, in Switzerland it is forbidden to own a horse alone in a meadow. How to explain that these rules do not serve as a model for others?
It is a pity that the federations do not take each other’s example and do not keep the best in each of them. There is a kind of self-segregation, and we dare not talk about these problems. So what do we do bluff! Until we reform the riders, it will be difficult. It would be a huge but colossal project… Our sport is the most beautiful and unique in the world, because it is an incredible vector of unity. It can change our society. I notice that the younger generation is very sensitive to the animal business, so there is hope!”

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