The eventing horse riding competition is THE equestrian discipline associated with the French army. But why ?
This is what we wanted to discover in the company of Sergeant Armand, a military farrier in the military equestrian unit of Fontainebleau in France!
The training of horses
Bringing together dressage, show jumping and cross-country, eventing is the school par excellence for developing the different skills of young horses.
This is highlighted by our exchange with Armand during the eventing competition organized each year by the military riding school of Fontainebleau at the Grand Parquet (77).
This annual event, which takes place in March, marks the start of the competition season for riders from Ile-de-France and neighboring regions.
Each year, nearly 55 3-year-old foals are bought by the Fontainebleau military school to join the equestrian ranks of the French army.
These are collected directly from their breeders. The army veterinarians are responsible for carrying out the complete purchase visits.
Military equestrian sections in France
In France, 20 equestrian sections are spread throughout France.
The equestrian military sections of the West of France are : Coëtquidan, La flèche, Angers and Saumur.
To the East : Haguenau, Bitche, Verdun, Metz, Mourmelon and Autun en Bourgogne.
In Centre/Ile-de-France : Olivet, Paris, Palaiseau, Avord and Fontainebleau.
At the South West : Martignas-sur-Jalle, Tarbes and Dax.
At the South East : Draguignan and Carpiagne.
These sections are all mainly attached to a cavalry regiment.
Detect horses with potential
The horses present in the French army are entrusted to a Master and Sub-Master of riding school to ensure their training and their preparation for a sporting career.
The best of them will take part in professional competitions, even in the most prestigious international events: International Championships, Olympic Games, as in the case of the famous couple Donatien Schauly and Ocarina du Chanois.
All the young horses joining the army come from French farms and are bought on average 6000€.
"Our resources within the military equestrian sections do not allow us to compete with the purchase of young horses with origins or with exceptional qualities as may be the case in show jumping or dressage. The eventing therefore adapts well to our investment realities because in my opinion it is easier in France to access horses which will become very good, even with a relatively limited initial financial contribution. I think that this is less the case in the other disciplines", shares Sergeant Armand.
A feeling corroborated by studies carried out by the Economic and Social Observatory of the Horse with the IFCE.
In 2018, it was mentioned that 3-year-old sport horses sold at auctions were acquired on average for the sum of 9000€. Products in the “elite” categories can be sold an average of nearly 30000€ during FENCES sales.
(source Prix des chevaux en France - equipedia.ifce.fr)
Faced with this economic reality, the role of riding Masters and Sub-Masters is therefore of capital importance in the detection of horses with the best potential. Their mission is also to put all their talents and all their patience to develop the qualities of the most promising young equines.
Eventing of the Grand Parquet
During the eventing competition organized each year by the Military Riding School of Fontainebleau, more than 60 soldiers ensure the smooth running of this competition.
The entire workforce is then mobilized for this essential competition spread over 5 days.
Setting up jumping and eventing courses and dressage tracks, award ceremony, paddock steward, picking up fences, farriery, veterinary medicine... all the missions are carried out by soldiers of the equestrian military school of Fontainebleau for the perfect running of the this event.
A showjumping is also organized each year in October.