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“We don’t have to be ashamed of our level of dressage”

Former director of the national stud farms, in particular that of Rosières-aux-Salines in the 90s, a specialist in dressage, horses and dressage riders, Bernard Maurel, now retired, devotes part of his time to training dressage judges. He was in this capacity at Vittel last weekend. He explains the meaning of this approach desired by the FFE and those responsible for dressage.

Briefing with the judges in Vittel

It is an excellent synergy between Corinne Delhaye-Schelcher, who is the president of the CRE Grand Est dressage commission, and the CFJD (the French club of dressage judges) where the interim president after the death of Dominique Fontaine is made by Valérie Bouygues. The objectives of this club is not to replace at all everything that is done at the federal level or CRE in terms of training judges, but to organize training around the rectangle, that is to say we open up to as many people as possible who are already judges or interested in judging, we say to them “come, we watch live covers, we comment, we give you all the bases of judging but with a very practical objective. These are not trainings like we do in the classroom with videos and theory. These are really hands-on training. There are a dozen registrants and in total with people who judge and who come to listen and leave, as we have a very good system of microtransmitter and individual headset audio, everyone can plug in and unplug and so it works very well, especially since the Vittel site lends itself perfectly to it. We are well received, the team is smiling and therefore there is a synergy with the organizer of the competition, the CRE and the CFJD “.

Do you do these trainings in all regions?
I didn’t do too much because there was less dynamism. In fact in February when we had the course for French judges which was given by Raphaël Saleh, my former student whose career path I am very proud of because 16 years after me, he will be judging the World Championships, we had the president of the dressage commission Annick Dauban, we had Lionel Du Tranoy member of the Federal Committee and Emmanuelle Schramm DTN deputy in charge of dressage, and all three together told us “we really want to relaunch, we really want to develop, we have on the one hand the objective of Paris 2024, that concerns the very high level, and then on the other hand we are completely aware, with the agreement of the President of the Federation that we must focus above all on our discipline, it is can be even more valid for other specialties, on animal welfare, respect for the horse, and the judges are essential for that”. This project really motivated me because now that I’m retired, I also train and I love it because I’ve known horses a little bit since then, and we also understand what they say in their body language and then I continue to read scientific stuff because you have to train all the time, and I said to myself well if they are demanding well I am delighted to spend time there helping all these people because there we see that there is a dynamic, everyone together in the right direction “.

Do you share ideas, ways of judging?
When we judge, they are not ideas, they are observable and it is as objective as possible. We try that the mirror given by the judge is not an undistorted mirror. That is to say that when people read their protocols they say to themselves “yes, yes, I succeeded in that, I failed in that, overall that was it, I rediscover the feelings I had in judge’s assessment “.
We judge covers. This morning it was the B2 so the preliminary Amateur 1, at the beginning of the afternoon the C2, the preliminary Amateur 2, and there we are going to judge the Amateur 3. It is really a question of alerting them to the fundamentals of the basics of dressage. I don’t talk to them about collecting, things like that, from time to time I tell a little story to motivate, but I try to show them that the fundamentals are the same, that is to say the correction of gaits, not – trot-gallop, the supple and relaxed horse, 2nd fundamental and the horse on the hand, these are the fundamentals which make it possible to prepare the rest but these fundamentals are the first three rungs of the progression ladder which is recognized in the whole world. Even if after the impulse of course we think about it from the start, the straightness we think about it from the start and then bring it together we all want to go towards that but for the moment to judge these levels we must insist on the fundamentals , so I allow myself to tell them “no, that’s not essential, that’s important”, so that everyone knows the rules of the game “.

What is Bernard Morel’s daily life like today?
As a retiree, I can’t stop. Training then writing. The 2nd book “Le Cheval Difficult” was released in the spring by Vigot. This year the Cadre Noir published the “Equestrian Souvenirs of General Wattel”, it has just come out thanks to the work of Jean-Pierre Tuloup first, and a little bit mine. In agreement with the general’s family since these are his memories intended only for his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and there are many. He had said “I don’t want them to be published”, but as they all agreed they had just been published by the Cadre Noir. Besides, it’s not that old because the photos from that time are the photos of my grandparents, the photos of the great-grandparents of people who are 40 years old today. Well, the younger generation will find that it’s very old, but it’s the guy who experienced the transition from seated riding to jumping, to forward riding, who was known to know how to train any horse. The memory part is very important, the equestrian note part is short but these are notes based on an exceptional experience where he gives some little advice and the concluding sentence is especially brilliant so it is a book that I recommend because it is based on the equestrian tradition shows that we French people have nothing to be ashamed of and that we can be good at this discipline “.

Collected by ER

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