Félix-Marie Brasseur, 70 year old, a renowned Belgian driver specialized in four-horse carriage driving, three times world champion and two times world cup winner, has been at the head of the French driving teams since the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Lexington.
𝐎𝐧𝐞-𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐬𝐞 𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐫𝐢𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐝𝐫𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠
For Félix Marie Brasseur, archetype of the accomplished horseman, trained at the Cadre Noir of Saumur, and who practiced in competition jumping, dressage, eventing and polo, driving is a fascinating discipline. He explains: “In the saddle, a good rider can get a lot out of his horse, but in driving, it is up to the driver to behave like a real horseman in order to obtain his adhesion and cooperation. He must make sure that the horse clearly understands what is expected of him and prepare him to respond to the slightest indication. In one-horse driving, which is the basis of everything, including four-horse driving, you can do exactly the same work as in the saddle, whether it is shoulder in, lateral work, as welle as variations and transitions of gaits. The difficulty is to keep him well rounded, on the hand, in line, shoulders in front of the hips, and ready at the slightest sollicitation of the driver to carry out the requested figure while remaining attentive. When the horse is in balance and responds to the slightest indication from the driver, it is an exceptional sensation. »
𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐖𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝 𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐦𝐩𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐩
In order to participate in the World Driving Championships, drivers must meet the conditions set by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), i.e., score less than 65 points in dressage during the last two seasons. For its part, the French Equestrian Federation (FFE) leaves it up to the coach (Quentin Simonet) and the national trainer (Félix-Marie Brasseur) to select the best elements at the time of the deadline, i.e. five to six couples. The trainer specifies that not everyone will be able to claim a podium, but participation in such an event is in any case very rich in lessons for the future. The trainer specifies that not everyone will be able to claim a podium, but participation in such an event is in any case very rich in lessons for the future. While the teams are composed of three carriages, only the two best results in dressage, marathon and cones competition are taken into account.
𝐅𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧
According to the national coach, France is in a good position on the international scene, thanks in particular to pillars such as Marion Vignaud, who is regularly in the lead in international competitions, but also thanks to Fabrice Martin, driver and trainer in driving at the French Institute of Horse and Riding (IFCE), a very successful driver in dressage and handling, as well as Claire Lefort, five-time French champion in driving with a pony, who is now driving a horse. “She has the ability to win a marathon or a cone competition and is constantly improving in dressage,” says Félix Marie Brasseur, who will also be able to count on several very promising couples in the future. Four to five times during the winter, the trainer brings together all of the single, pair and four horse drivers at the Parc Fédéral in Lamotte Beuvron, and accompanies them on the major events.
𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐭 𝐇𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐬 𝐝𝐮 𝐏𝐢𝐧
Each competition has its own specificities. At the Haras du Pin, the marathon, which is about nine thousand meters long and has eight mobile obstacles anchored to the ground, is considered to be a demanding course because of the many changes in level. “The profile of the terrain requires the horses to be in perfect physical condition, as they are constantly going up and down between the fences,” says the national trainer. « However, as in eventing, the difficulty lies in performing well on all three tests,” concludes Félix Marie Brasseur, who still harnesses every day with pleasure.