Anne, 53, Endurance rider
Endurance courses in 2003 and 2004
For a long time I had been looking for other riders already engaged in training for endurance.
I needed advice and above all supervision, as the advice you glean on the ride circuit from the
chance encounters on the lorry parks is more often the fantasies of self-appointed gurus than
the solid knowledge of professionals.
So, after a number of fruitless searches on the Internet and elsewhere, Guillaume V., an
organiser, tells me of a stable not very far from my home. “They do endurance and flat racing
training”. Back on the Internet, I am drinking the terse ten lines of description of the Écuries
du Bousquet. A few phone calls later, we have arranged a meeting.
After the average and normal wanderings in the countryside, I eventually find the gateway of
Le Bousquet in front of me. The horses are turned out of doors, (most loose boxes are empty)
they look wide awake and their coats shine in the autumn sun. They look healthy and happy.
Then, I meet Sophie and Geneviève, both calm and self-possessed, listening carefully and
answering concisely — one only realises Sophie’s very great professional experience after a
When we start training, the first work is done on their track: assessment of the horse, timing,
method, heart rhythm, etc. After a convivial lunch, we go out for an afternoon ride on the hilly
lanes and bridle paths of Lauragais. Their advice is abundant, but to the point and tactfully
In this informal and cordial atmosphere, nothing escapes Sophie’s attention: sha can
appreciate or anticipate everything, she “thinks horse”, she will detect the least shoeing
imperfection which could lead to lameness on a long ride, she will recommend a change in
the horse’s diet, which will give our “athletes” the balance and shape they need, she will slow
down the gaits and walk the mounts to complete recuperation. Above all she feels the
personality of each horse and respects their individuality, their sensitivity, the features of their
race or their state of mind of the moment. This goes for the fragile, worried and unpredictable
thoroughbreds, the impetuous and playful Arabians and the mercurial or moody mares. Each
horse is unique and will be offered a training programme which will never put it at risk nor
make him lose his enthusiasm for his work.
The endurance season will soon be starting again. My horse is in great form, light, resistant,
full of beans, and, if everything goes well, the season should end for us with a 120km ride,
which is something I would never have thought possible.
Cécile, 21 eventing rider
Racing training course, 2001
Delighted to hear from you! What memories I keep of Le Bousquet! I see that endurance is
going strong. Fabulous! As for racing, I hope 2004 will be a better year. I am looking forward
to getting photos of the foals. I mentioned my foal to you: a 50% Anglo Arab aged 3. I broke
him this summer; he is a love and goes like a rocket. But he is small and doesn’t seem to be
possessed of the required staying power, and I will not send him for training, which is a good
thing for me in view of my lack of funds. But I did have hopes… No matter, though, I will
find for him one of the disciplines where he will be able to perform at his own level, perhaps
Le Trec, or driving. I like versatile horses…
However, let me try to answer your questions on the racing training course.
First of all, before coming, I had some knowledge of racing, (strategy, rules, conditions, what
favours or handicaps a mount) but none as far as practice, training techniques and riding for
racing were concerned. The course answered all my expectations.
But let’s start at the beginning!
First of all, the arrival at the site; a very pleasant site at first sight, with its welcoming
buildings, its meadows, its undergrowth, the dream of every rider. Then, meeting Sophie and
Geneviève. In the world of racing and riding, this is often fraught with misgivings, as you
never know what strange types you’re going to meet, but here, on the contrary, it was a deep
relief to find two cheerful ladies, welcoming and kind, passionate and dynamic. They show us
the horses, which are all in fine fettle, with shiny coats, lively eyes and impish behaviour
(Djourba will know who I mean!), racing horses, endurance horses, some young, some not so
young, either ready for the tracks or being prepared. Some Arabians, with more or less typical
features (rather more than less, in fact) thoroughbreds without the legendary unpredictability,
and even an Anglo Arab mare, and there I melted and I was delighted to be given her to ride
for the whole week.
The next day, the course proper started. With the weather, we started very early. Too early for
my taste, but you must think of the horses. We would ride in the morning and then go out
again in the late afternoon for a two-hour ride which was an integral part of the training. No
mucking out to do (I wouldn’t have minded, but it is true that there are more interesting things
to do on a course, although Melanie and I expected to have to do it and would have). I will
skip over the details of the course, but here is the result: I have learned a lot, although I would
have needed more than a week to learn everything from people for whom horses are not just
work tools you dispose of when you have finished with them. With people who can really
teach, you learn at your own speed, the advice is clear, simple and precise. Besides, although
one of the participants was really training for endurance, everything went very well and we
learned from each other. Finally, we were lucky enough to go to Pompadour at the end of the
course and to test the work of a week (and many more beforehand) with the races run by
Djourba, Falène and Jolla. Racing is the final outcome of the course and I think that, even if
you don’t have horses taking part, you should get the experience of a race course on a race
day, and visit the stables if possible to see the hidden face of the art. It would also be useful to
see an endurance race if you have had no prior experience of it.
Here goes. I don’t know what to add, except that I have so many memories that I feel it was
all only yesterday. I hope to be able to get a trainer’s licence one day (with a lot more
experience, this goes without saying) and/or to have a race horse of my own.
Six months later I joined the French National Studs and hope to get an inseminator’s licence
before the end of the winter. One year later, I should be qualified to do scans. I am expecting
to end up Head of a Centre. My horses are far away: they stayed in Marseille and I am in
Annecy, but I will get them nearer. I hope to breed from my mare and Blue Boy, a stallion my
boyfriend has just bought (I really don’t know why) and which I love dearly. Besides, he has
had good products, better ones than with the Arabian I had before. So perhaps the foal will be
able to race…
There it is. This is more than a few lines, but I am talkative by nature and you can always
cut… Here are my whereabouts: Cécile GRANON, BP 308, 74008 Annecy cedex France. It is
the Std’s address, but they forward our mail, and as I am about to move, it is safer to reach me
there. My phone number is 00 33 6 07 08 67 63.
Rosane, 52, dressage and show rider (for the last 42 years!)
Racing course in 2002, 2003, endurance 2004.
I answered an ad worded “racing and endurance courses”. My passion is racing. All I can say
is that I am returning for the third time, with one of my own horses this time.
These courses have given me new relaxed sensations with horses.
Bernard, 37, endurance rider
Endurance course in 2001
As a new endurance rider, mad about the discipline, the course I did at the Bousquet stud
made me aware of the enormous amount of work demanded by a professional racing stable.
For me, a beginner, the major advantage was being able to bring my own horse and progress
along with him.
The welcome and the surroundings being particularly pleasant I sometimes come back with
my family for a weekend break.
Mélanie, 24, show jumping rider for M. de Ballanda
Racing course 2001
I am passionate about all that has to do with horses, so, some time ago, I decided to try a new
discipline: racing. I therefore made several phone calls and eventually chose the professionals
at Écuries du Bousquet at Loubens Lauragais.
For me, that course was a real and incredible experience in view of my original training for
horse jumping. The position in racing is very different and new basics had to be learned. But I
had excellent teachers who inspired me with confidence and trained me on real racehorses.
During the course we learned a lot of things and discovered new sensations, in particular
during the “fast bits”. There is nothing more fantastic than that sensation of power and the
feeling that the horse is stretching under you like an accordion!…
Besides all I have learned, the surroundings are very pleasant and Sophie and Geneviève gave
us a tremendous welcome, with great lunches and dinners. It was very convivial!
From this course, I only remember positive things, from the quality of the horses and the real
racing practice to the kindness of the welcome given us.
It was a sensational experience!