RIDERS OF THE SAUT HERMÈS 2018

 

The 2018 edition of the Saut Hermès, a unique show jumping competition with a magical setting under the enchanting glass ceiling of the Grand Palais takes place this weekend in Paris. The world’s finest riders gather at the event. Over the 3 days of competition, they are able to gain points for the international rankings.  

Now in its ninth edition, the Saut Hermes remains as always a celebration of horses, of riding as a sport, and of the discipline's strong spirit. Inside/Out is pleased to share its encounters with a selection of the talented competitors, in order to showcase their practice and the unique relationship that France has with horseback riding. 

 
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A few questions for French rider Alexandra Paillot:

I/O: What is a specific moment of which you are proud?
AP: 
Becoming a pro-élite French champion in 2015. I was the first woman to win this title.

I/O: There are more and more women among the international top riders. How would you explain this?
AP: There have always been amazing women riders at the highest level, but with show jumping being now more technical, more subtle, and all about finesse, it's true that more and more of women get to the very top and it makes the competition even more exciting.

I/O: How would you define the unique relationship that France has with horseback riding? 
AP: Culturally, horseback riding has always had a key role in France. It creates many bridges with the arts, with fashion and with luxury in general. And, if riding still has an elitist image, it is actually a very popular practice (the third federation in France in terms number of licencees).  Horseback riding and culture commune very well, and the Saut Hermès is the perfect illustration of this combination. We have more and more frequently access to high level sporting events in cultural places and it makes such experiences magical. 

I/O: Horseback riding is one of the most popular sport among girls and women, how does it empower them? 
AP: First, because competitions are mixed, and it's the only Olympic sport to allow that. Regarding performance, it's a huge deal to compete with men in the same events. It's a powerful message of equality. 

I/O: What does the idea of wellness mean to you on a horse?
AP: It's the communion with the horse, a feeling of freedom. 

I/O: What's your biggest inspiration?
AP: Being in harmony with horses.

I/O: A motto?
AP: Keep on going.


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A few questions for French rider Margaux Rocuet:

I/O: There are more and more women among the international top riders. How would you explain this?
MR:
 Twenty or 30 years ago, horses required more strength. Today, they are thiner, lighter, more athletic and suit women better. Courses are more and more technical. They require more subtlety, less power. This helps us access the highest level more easily.

I/O: Horseback riding is one of the most popular sport among girls and women, how does it empower them?
MR: At the Olympic level, horseback riding is the only mixed sport and it's something we can be proud of. On a horse, we are not labeled as women. Being a high level woman rider is not an obstacle. On the contrary, we work harder to reach our goals.

I/O: A motto?
MR: Everything is temporary, nothing certain, so I would say "Seize the day."


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A few questions for Moroccan rider Soukaina Ouaddar: 

I/O: There are more and more women among the international top riders. How would you explain this?
SO: It's true! Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams and Allyson Felix are amazing examples for women athletes who want to reach the highest level. Horseback riding may be different, as women don't have a dedicated category, but it's all the more motivating. There were no woman riders in Morocco competing with men in the senior league before (obstacles at 145cm-160cm) and today we are 3. I think it's a very good sign to see so many of us at the highest level, and it's an example or an inspiration for the ones who are just starting. 

I/O: Horseback riding is one of the most popular sports among girls and women, how does it empower them?
SO: It's the only mixed Olympic sport. And when I compete, I don't think about winning "as a woman," nor being the best woman among the competitors, I just want to win!

I/O: A motto?
SO: "Believe in your dreams and they may come true; believe in yourself and they will come true."  Martin Luther King