The musician and the horseman


The musician and the horseman

This morning at the Ecole Blondeau, there is the smell of coffee and an atmosphere of expectancy in the meeting room.

Nicolas Blondeau and his team are receiving a maestro, a high-flying musician and close friend of Michel Legrand: Patrice Peyriéras

A little while ago, I met this great musician in Paris.  When I spoke to him about horses, I noticed in my capacity as a scientist in the man/horse relationship at the Ecole Blondeau, that each sentence seemed to link to what he experienced in his activities of composer and conductor.    

He wanted to meet Nicolas Blondeau and this morning, the meeting finally took place. 

Sometimes in life there are moments of grace where the beauty of human values expresses itself.  Our eyes brim with tears of emotion, yet in spite of all the criticisms we level against humanity, we find ourselves proud to be homo sapiens.  This is how I felt being in the presence of these two men of good will.

The musician talked about his first experience with horses when he composed some original music for a dressage rider.  Watching the horse moving wth elegance to his music, he was surprised at the horse’s precision, keeping in perfect time to the music and he was amazed at the overall harmony.  

Nicolas Blondeau then recounted his experiences, illustrating the finesse of horses at work with humans.  He talked of the importance of face to face contact and of the quality of the relationship that he wished to build with a partner.  When Nicolas Blondeau talked about the way of approaching an aggressive horse, he opened his arms, stuck his chest out and smiled as if he was going to hug someone he liked very much and hadn’t seen for a long time.

"You have to make the horse to want to be with you!" he said "You have to lead him, give him the direction to follow then let him get on with it.  It’s in this giving that we get the responses, in other words, in order to receive, we must first give."    

The musician/conductor responded to the words of the horseman "Highly trained musicians are very good technicians, but if all these virtuosos are to work together and give soul to the music, I must also open my arms and give my all."    

Listening to these two great artists sitting opposite each other, I can understand the strength of feeling between them.  And yes, I would even go so far as to say the force of love!    

Both work with their own techniques and skills.  They will search their innermost core for the force which will allow them to give the best of themselves for others, to the person opposite them, committed to the relationship be it horse or orchestra.  They do it also for the person watching the building of the relationship.  They do it so that every one of us remembers that in order to receive, we must give.         

"The horse gives when the rider stops asking"  said the horseman. The musician replied  "Music only exists for its silences because the music continues after the music."    

And if we ask ourselves the question: At what moment does equitation become an art? If we ask what is the point in common between a teaching session with Nicolas Blondeau and an orchestra conductor, the response is there: The strength of commitment and the desire to give everything to receive little in return.       

Daniel Stern, an American child psychiatrist calls this phenomenon "the forms of vitality" which he defines as a manifestation of life. We feel it strongly within ourselves and notice its expression in others.           

So, all you Film Directors who replace real horses with holograms in your so-called live performances, isn’t there something missing about the definition of a work of art? The beauty of a face-to-face contact between the human and the horse is not the feats carried out nor even the natural elegance of the horse; it’s the force of emotion which expresses itself. Perhaps behind a so-called desire to protect animals, you hide a deep mistrust of them, which stops you from seeing just how much they know how to be real artists and who love performing as much as you do.          

Sophie Barreau - 13.05.2019
Ethology Teacher

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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