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in 2014

Saddle Horse, they have only been an official breed since 1958. The combination of Thoroughbreds and local French mares with pedigrees for generations has created a rare combination of speed, stamina and agility. Selle Français are fast and bold for eventing and yet exhibit a jumping prowess for show jumping success. Another characteristic that is desirable in any breed is trainability.

That ability to teach the horse their style has worked well for the French riders. Reynald Angot sees a difference between American riders and French as they approach show jumping. “In the United States’ hunter jumping arena, the rider is light on the horse—letting the horse do the work as he takes the jump. In France the rider, the person, does the work pushing the horse towards the obstacle to jump.” But whatever the style, the Americans are proving to be tough competitors. Florian Angot, who has often faced Americans at the Olympics and other international competitions, adds, “Years ago Americans were not considered as strong contenders [in competition] as the Europeans, but that is not the case now. Look! Americans are always on the podiums.”

Beyond the Games In the heart of the Basse-Normandy region between Deauville on the

eastern coast and Mont Saint Michel on the west sits Caen. The city of a little over one hundred thousand people is about ten miles from the English Channel. It is the capital of the region, a business and a university city. Almost the entire city was destroyed during the liberation of France in World War II, but a lovely historic district remains to welcome tourists. The World Equestrian Games 2014 headquarters, called Maison du Cheval, is based in Caen across the street from the Caen Peace Memorial dedicated to those who liberated the region after the D-Day landings in 1944. With a 64-million euro budget, which is almost 91 million dollars at today’s exchange rate, the WEG Normandy 2014 committee is prepared to put on its finest show to welcome the participants, spectators and tourists to the city and region.

Chief Operating Officer of the WEG Fabien

Grobon explains that Normandy 2014 is not just an equestrian show; this event is being looked at as a public works project. “We are using the opportunity of the games to focus the world for 15 days on Normandy, but the games will have a legacy for the region. Every euro we spend for

the games must be accounted for in the long run. An example is the hospitality training of taxi drivers and hotel staff to welcome the guests. That training will last into the future.” Lexington welcomed a little more than 400,000 at the Kentucky

Horse Park in 2010. The global recession is considered a major cause for Lexington’s modest numbers. But 63 countries were represented in the grandstands including France, England, and Germany and as far away as South Africa and Australia. By contrast the Aachen Games in Germany

All photos by Pam Forrester

Opposite page background: Normandy countryside near Haras du Pin. Inset top: Reynald Angot jumping at Deauville. Inset bottom: Selle Français horses at Reynald Angot’s breeding farm, Haras des Biches.

Above, top to bottom: (1) WEG 2014 headquarters, Maison du Cheval, Caen, France. (2) Memorial to those who died in WWII liberating Caen, in front of the Maison du Cheval. (3) A typically beautiful village in Normandy. Inset: Fabien Grobon, COO of the WEG.

Warmbloods Today 15

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