Eager to understand our athletes needs, we are first of all Pilots! And each of us has his own field of expertise. In Accounting, Marine has chosen driving. It has been an official sport at the World Horse Championships since their creation and has risen in the medias just under the 3 olympic riding events. She is going to tell you more about this sport which is highly demanding on both horses and drivers…
Which horse carriage driving sport do you practice?
I practice sport driving as a groom and I do a little bit of driving at home.
Sport Driving consists of 3 phases:
- Dressage (performing a series of predetermined movements)
- Handling (Obstacle Cone Driving: driving a course between cones with balls balanced on top of them within a set time without dropping any balls)
- Marathon (a course with varied obstacles with a succession of technical difficulties. The goal is to negotiate obstacles like bridges, streams, hills and labyrinths as fast as possible with as few penalties as possible – similar to the faults in show jumping)
A 3 phase amateur competition usually takes place over 2 days (5 days for the highest level); the first test is obviously Dressage, then Handling and Marathon, or the other way round…. In fact, it is very similar to Eventing!
Driving is a complete sport which requires horses that can perform well in the 3 phases, both physically and mentally. There are different levels in competition; Club-Amateur-Amateur Elite, and there is also a specific competition for young horses. The star category of this sport is the 4 horse team driving, also called “Teams”; a small homage to our French team who is presently performing at the European championship in Göteborg.
How did you actually start with carriage driving ?
I started 6 years ago. I am originally a horse rider, and when I met Clément, who had passed a BPJEPS in carriage driving, I was immediately hooked, because carriage driving is a real sport for me, and our horses are real athletes. They must be multi-skilled in the 3 phases and have a strong mental control. I am presently looking for a horse of my own and would like to start competing, for real! We work out of a 20 stalls stable filled with carriage and riding horses-ponies, and we own four of them…
What I like best is working as a team. The horse or the horses, the driver and the groom. It’s always very challenging to attend and to actually take part in competition, even though I am “only” the groom (the groom sits in the carriage for all phases). The sensations in carriage driving are really different from “classical” horse riding but as exciting.
What is your best memory in this sport? Or your worst?
I don’t have just one best memory but what I like best is to watch our horses progress and enjoy the satisfaction after each competition: to see everything they can give us…. I don’t have a worst memory neither! Maybe just a regret that this sport is still completely unknown and not recognized as it should be. So stop having preconceived ideas and come and discover this real sport!!
A little word about the ideal outfit?
Riding pants, boots and helmet…. My Horse Pilot +: my lovely black AEROTECH jacket (with camel color details) for each competition and my ELEMENT jacket, a must in the North of France and ford crossing.