Equine Network Conference 2016


Equine Network Conference 2016

"I attended the Equine Network Conference 2016 in Caen.  
 After Nicolas Blondeau's presentation, Jean-Luc Force told him enthusiastically "Well done, you have just put the church back in the middle of the village."

This sentence raised questions for me with regard to the presentations during the morning concerning the introduction of new tools from biological sciences and computing.  

Was he saying that for equine professions the quality of the man/horse relationship is fundamental to working with the horse?

At the first round table there was a discussion "Sports medicine for the horse - current knowledge - emerging practices and alternatives".Professor Jean-Marie Denoix reminded us of the importance of improving the locomotive performance of the horse and the way he coped with competition. He recommended variations in working conditions to favour muscular harmony. Doctor Jean-Marc Betch, director of 'AVEF, had also spoken of this preoccupation. However, he remarked that there was a big unknown factor for the scientific world:  the horse's psyche.  

Nicolas Blondeau pointed out in his speech that "Performance can only be achieved if the horse is relaxed".    

The mind is something to explore and the horse's psyche is even more mysterious when man and horse come together to work.    

The second round table discussion brought together Sébastien Garato and Jean-Claude Rouget, both trainers of merit, who admitted to using classic methods and standardised training. They said they did not use the tools relating to diagnostics and preferred to trust their feelings "the horseman's eye". Jean-Claude Rouget talked about his past as an athlete, remembering his own suffering during athletics sessions which taught him the limits of what could be asked for in effort. "I can identify with my horses and I don't want horses in my stables to be exhausted".    

Are we perhaps seeing a semiotic shortfall?  
What word could be used to describe what the body is capable of feeling?   

I come back to this church that Nicolas Blondeau has put back in the centre of the village.  He reminded us of 3 essentials:   

-  a precise definition of what was expected of the horse: "Calm, forward-going and straight", the maxim of General L'Hotte.  
-  coherence in what is asked   
-  that humans are caring towards the horse, who builds on fairness and accuracy.   

By highlighting these essentials in the man/horse relationship in work, Nicolas Blondeau has replaced problems being at the centre of the horse's training with the importance of the quality of this relationship.   

You can see an extract of Nicolas Blondeau's presentation (in French) l'extrait de l'intervention de Nicolas Blondeau aux Assisses de la filière équine."

Sophie Nicod - 11.11.2016

About the Author

Sophie Barreau, mission manager, ethologist, BFEE2 and BEES1 instructor, joined our team in October 2016.  Her tasks were to work on the research programme CHEVALEDUC with Jocelyne Porcher INRA and to teach student equine ethology as well as the scientific advances made in the relationship of man and horse at work. 

In the articles « Through Sophie’s eyes », she shares her passion with us.


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