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A Corsican champion named Diana Dea

This eight-year-old mare, born in Nebbiu and raised in Moriani, is the first Corsican breed to compete internationally. On her first 100 kilometer course last month, she finished 41st. A performance for what her owners affectionately call “a pesta nera”

Bay-brown robe, splendid mane, Diana Dea has this proud look that does not betray its origins. At eight years old, this Mare displaying 1m45 at the withers is the first horse of Corsican breed to rise in the international elite of endurance competitions. Just competitions. Because if the cavallu corsu can excel and has already distinguished himself in show jumping, he is ultimately never as good as in races of 60, 80 or 100 kilometres. And it is precisely on this last distance that Diana Dea shone, just a month ago in an international endurance contest * (the contests are classified by star), in Dordogne, in Monpazier exactly, in the middle of 94 other starters.

We started the competition with the objective, above all, of qualifyingadmits her 16-year-old rider Julie Barre, a former schoolgirl from Cervione, now in the Hérault, at the Sainte Afrique agricultural school where she is preparing a diploma in horse riding. For the start, I let the peloton go in front as advised by Stéphanie Arnal, a professional rider who knows my mare. We started off at a slow pace and I saw that she was responding perfectly. So we started to accelerate in the second loop of 33 kilometers. And at each veterinary visit, his pulses were good. In the last loop, there were five kilometers left and she answered again, we caught up with several small groups. It was wonderful. »

A great advertisement for the Corsican breed

Breaking heart, breaking mind, Diana Dea finishes 41and and 21and engaged French horses. To the delight of Julie’s mother, Geneviève Bouvet, also a rider and member of the Cavallu Corsu association. To see a mare of this breed in such a competition is, for her, beyond happiness. ” This is the kind of competition where there are horses selected to win, horses from prestigious crossbreeds! The recognition of the Corsican horse is very recent, Diana Dea is very young and here she is achieving this kind of performance. During the competition, the announcer came to see me to ask me about the specifics of this breed, so, very kindly, he spoke about it and spoke again at the microphone. It made us super proud. » Beyond the natural feeling of applauding a successful horse from his land, there is also this joy of seeing this Corsican breed interfering in the midst of English thoroughbreds, Arabs, bards and the famous Anglo-Arabs. Like an equestrian version of David and Goliath.

Small horse certainly but its hardiness is its strength, especially in endurance.  -CM

With this 41and place, the island mare earns the right to compete for a new CEI*. Which will take place in Veylats, in the Lot, on November 11. If it qualifies again, it will then be able to take a new step: the CEI**, with 120 or 130 kilometers on the menu.

A sort of fairy tale for Julie, rider in show jumping and endurance at the Kallisté de Vescovato breeding, before taking her license at the Corsican equestrian raids endurance circuit, a simple structure to take her license. Because on the training side, the young girl has plenty to do around her home. But only on weekends, when she finally returns from her boarding school. ” How I miss my mare during the week! I miss all my horses. But for her, we have specific sessions. There is a lot of background work on the slopes, at walking pace, to prepare your physique and your cardio. The second phase is the galloping sessions. We start with thirty-minute runs and see how she recovers. Then we increase the duration. In this way, she works her muscles as much as her tone. »

This summer, it was Emma France, a member of the France U23 team, who rode the Corsican mare in competition.  -CM

At eight years old, Diana Dea has not burned the steps. She did her first 80 kilometers in Vescovato, two years ago with Geneviève in the saddle, in an event at the imposed speed… she slams 1D square. Pandemic obliges, she could not immediately flaunt her incredible resistance, therefore contenting herself with sessions with her owner. The return to competition took place over 40 km, in June, in Aude. And again the top step of the podium. ” The qualification to run over 100 kilometers, she obtained it in the Tarn-et-Garonne on July 16remembers Geneviève Bouvet. That day, Julie couldn’t ride it and it was Emma Frances, Stéphanie Arnal’s daughter, who took the reins. She is the reigning French junior champion! With three selections for the France team. Imagine the pleasure of seeing such a couple. And they finish third! So with the qualification to go to Monpazier. »

A mare with a huge heart, Diana Dea is enjoying a little rest before an upcoming international show in November.  -CM

“There are not enough recognized individuals”

Today, with her 145 centimeters, the Corsican mare is certainly not done with performance. All those who have observed it, who have ridden it, believe that there is real room for improvement. Julie Barre’s mother assures us that in November, for the second 100 kilometers, her daughter will be able to ” open the fingers, let the mare unroll. »

Endowed with a strong character, kindly called “a pesta nera”, Diana Dea could pass for touchy as she shows her teeth when she feels that another horse is about to overtake her. It is for this reason that last month, she let the peloton take a little lead at the start.

Julie Barre is destined for the riding trades through a diploma that she passes to the agricultural school of Sainte-Afrique, in the Hérault.  -CM

But the story wouldn’t be so beautiful if this mare wasn’t there almost by accident. Because professional endurance competitions require horses with “papers”. However, Diana Dea is almost without genealogy. In the texts, strictly, it would prohibit him from competing in events over 60 kilometers. Endurance at the regional level, therefore, no more.

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Corsican horses that have distinguished themselves, there have already been. At random, Alma di Cirnu or Accellu di Paradisu. ” But the problem is to arrive on the international circuit when you do not have sufficient papersexplains Pierre-Laurent Santelli, board member of the Cavallu Corsu association. For Accellu di Paradisu, it was necessary to qualify in competitions in Sardinia before racing on the continent. Diana Dea obtained an initial title of Corsican breed horse at three years old. Why ? Because if his mother is recognized, his father is not. He comes from the Nebbiu, from the family of Luciani shepherds-breeders. He is a horse a little bigger than the Corsican standards, no doubt he was crossed at some point with the Barde breed, which is quite close, it must be admitted. Our problem is that of a breed recognized late: there are not enough recognized individuals. But we have discussed at length with the Haras Nationaux and there is this possibility, with an initial title, of competing at an international level. This remains a temporary facility, in a few years, the parents’ papers will be required. »

The association obviously does not sulk its pleasure. She who has been campaigning for the recognition of the breed for three decades, who has underlined from the start the physical abilities of this little horse. Diana Dea embodies a sporting success as she embodies that of lovers of this breed, who have truly fought against administrations to have an identity recognized.

A call to develop the breed

“I have been practicing endurance for 25 years, testifies Geneviève Bouvet. In Moriani, I had Anglos, Arabs and then, as a member of the Cavallu Corsu association, I was waiting to have a horse. Corsica. But the market is so small that I had to wait several years.” The observation is simple: the supply of Corsican horses is well below demand. This little horse is seducing part of the equestrian world.

“We have very important requestssupports Pierre-Laurent Santelli. Spaniards, Germans, Italians and of course French riders are looking for young Corsican horses. There is enthusiasm. But alas, we cannot answer it. This is why the association makes a double call: come and have your horses recognised, bring your mares to the mating. We have always underlined the sporting interest of the recognition of the Corsican horse but also its economic interest. With the eighteen months of pandemic, confinement, curfew, our activities have been slowed down but the recognition days have resumed, in the Far South and in Castagniccia in recent weeks. We can no longer hold large gatherings, so we intervene on demand. “

During the recognition of the Paganacciu in 2012, the herd was 70. It is now 210 including ten stallions. It’s good but still not enough. It is for this reason that the association supports, financially, the projections of mare. As she supports the technical support, the choice of the stallion according to the morphological aspects of the mare, also according to the line.

All requests concerning the Corsican horse can be made to the association on 06 58 20 21 69.

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