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Back to posting on the stuff we did in June in the Val de Loire …

The French National Riding School (Ecole nationale d’Equitation) founded in 1972 is located in Saumur. Take a look at their very helpful official website here. Much of the information here came from this site.

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We had a 2+ hour-guided tour (the only way visitors are allowed to see the place) led by a very knowledgeable English speaking guide. She is an university student majoring in tourism and working during her holidays.

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The National Riding School is founded on the knowledge and experience of the ecuyers (Riding Masters) of the Cadre Noir with a mission to develop horse training, to teach riding for sport, and to teach the equestrian professions.

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All the teachers of the National Riding School are members of the Cadre Noir. The principal purpose of the ecuyers, many of them military officers, each one a real expert in their own discipline, is to pass on their technical and theoretical knowledge.

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They also have to train and keep in condition the horses presented in the Reprise de Manège (Musical Ride), and those who perform the airs above the ground, as well as representing the school in national and international competitions.

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They are also entrusted with the preparation of the horses used in the training of their pupils. The school receives the French teams in the four Olympic disciplines: Dressage, Eventing, Jumping, and Paralympic. The school has many close ties with the École de cavalerie (Armoured Cavalry Branch Training School).

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The Grand Manège is used for lessons, international competitions, training, and Cadre Noir rehearsals and galas. With 1500 seats, it is one of the largest indoor arenas in Europe.  The mirrors positioned across the total width allow the ecuyers to observe the way of going and movements of their horses and to correct aids and posture.

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The National Riding School can accommodate around 500 horses in 4 perfectly equipped stables.

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Half way through the tour of the stables, Sue was allergic to something in the air and had to go back to the car.

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About 60 grooms look after the 330 horses belonging to the school on a daily basis.

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Heat lamps after shower.

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They are aided by a number of automated systems: distribution of water and feed, and getting rid of the poop. The flaked and cubed feeds drop into the mangers 3 to 4 times a day at set times.

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The feed requirements of each horse depend on his weight, his age, the breed, the outside temperature, but above all his level of work.

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The bedding produces up to 600 tonnes of manure each year, some of which goes to local mushroom growers.  This piece of information is alarming since we just went to a local mushroom grower and museum (see our posts here and here). Now we know where some of the black bits on white button mushrooms come from !

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The tour was fun because it allowed us some close-up moments with the horses. We had ample time to explore the stables and touch the horses.

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Our next post continues with the theme of “horses” and their role in war …

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