To become a horseman


To become a horseman is to become more human

Professional training has the power to improve working techniques and build a career.  At the Ecole Blondeau, these aims are generally achieved.  

Over the past 4 months, I have filmed the students under training and I have noticed that in learning to educate horses, the students seem to flourish.    

Through my lens, I can capture the moment where man and horse learn to communicate and work together.  It was in this way that I saw the metamorphosis of one of our students.     

As the day dawned, his tall silhouette came through the gates of the Ecole Blondeau where 14 English thoroughbreds had just arrived.  Olivier knows the breed well as he is a training rider and a former jump jockey.  He enrolled for the Blondeau BEB3 course because he wanted to know more, but above all he wanted to learn about this method which makes horses so receptive to man's demands.      

From day to day, he discovered new schooling techniques, the capacity of the horse's understanding, and a teaching framework which gives very good results.  He understood the importance of controlling his emotions and he learnt that the building of respect between horse and man demanded kindness in order to gain the horse's co-operation.     

Olivier always looked the youngsters in the eye despite warnings from Alexandra, the rider trainer, about the risk of being struck by the forelegs.  But this was Olivier's way and in spite of the risks, he and the youngsters in his care had great success.       

During the last few days of Olivier's course, I was filming a mischievous youngster being trotted in-hand.  Olivier was keeping a watchful eye on the work of the young horse.  Then he turned to me and, clearly moved, said "This is the first time since I've been here that I have the impression of doing the horses some good".      

I thought then of my Director of Research, Jocelyne Porcher (INRA) who has worked with me for five years on research work into "Animals at Work", and who for many years has maintained the existence of this link.  I also thought of Christophe Dejours, a psychiatrist, medical doctor and psychoanalyst who presided over our discussions on 8 April 2016, who said "Work doesn't stop just like that when you're working for someone.  Co-operation isn't a one-way street;  the objective is to be in harmony with others".    

I believe that's what the students learn at the Ecole Blondeau:  To be in harmony with the horses in order to be able to work together.

Those who have the chance to work in co-operation with a horse learn much about life.   

In 1838, Darwin wrote "He who understands baboons would do more towards metaphysics than Locke"  (John Locke was a 17th century English philosopher).      

Sophie Barreau - 27.01.2017
Ethologue - Enseignante

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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