Gathering ponies in Deauville: a look back at more than 40 years of festivities for young riders

Deauville pony rally
Every year, the pony clubs in the Paris region of Deauville meet for a traditional course during the Easter holidays. © Brimbo Horse Riding

“It must be the 39th time I have attended this course and I always return with the same pleasure”. Jean-Luc Auclair, director of the Grange Martin equestrian center in Essonne, knows this collection of ponies to Deauville (Calvados), which is celebrated this year its 40th editionafter two years of absence due to the health crisis.

The first children arrived on Sunday, April 24, and until May 6, 2022, they will be more than 400 riders from seven equestrian centers in Parisian region to walk past, as tradition dictates, to discover the Pays d’Auge, its landscape, its coasts, its history and the fascinating world of horse racing. “During this period, we open the beach, we open the city, we open the enclosure park and all the good child”, smiles Guillaume Capard, assistant to the city of Deauville, who remembers the first editions well. “It provides a unique atmosphere, here and on the beach,” confirms Frank Le MestreDirector of International Horse Pole.

40 years ago, an arrival by train

Let’s go back in time. After a first solo release in 1978 Brimborion Pony Clubin Hauts-de-Seine, organizes from 1980 the first collection of Parisian pony clubs. “We had been called up by Deauville City Hall, which at the time wanted to bring a different image to its city, and which had created the event at the time. To celebrate animals which took place on the racetrack and which brought together a varied palette of animals, ”says Philippe Audige, director of the Brimborion Association, which organizes and coordinates operations. For this association was at that time “the holy grail of pony riding on its way out into the countryside” to discover new own, new professions, always connected with the riding industry and its traditions. And Deauville offered them this great opportunity!

Originally, this assembly had been able to procure a special train departing from Versailles station. “We left Haras de Jardy and crossed the Palace of Versailles to reach the station, which had high platforms that we needed.” Half of the carriages were then filled with ponies, the other half with riders, all with the same destination. “We arrived in Deauville with his pony in our luggage”. This concept lasted well over twenty years until the high platforms disappeared at Deauville station and the SNCF stopped transporting live animals. The organizers of this traditional course then fell back on a system of buses and trucks to make this meeting last.

Deauville pony rally
Young riders on the station platform. © DR

A passion that lives in the family

Very well known and always awaited with excitement, this course has seen many young riders parade over the last forty years. “Although there are some who return every year, we can easily imagine that there are more than 100,000 children who have gone through this process,” smiles Philippe Audigé. Children, but not only. With her “passing on of values”, as Guillaume Capard points out, the event has taken root in children’s minds for life. “We have parents who ran this course in Deauville 20 or 30 years ago as riders and then enrolled their children, and who come to relive those good times during the family weekend,” he explains. Audrey Poupardin, director of the stay. Franck Le Mestre confirms: “We see the children returning to the racetrack with their families, it is a good communication route for the races and for the horse”.

The traditional parade this Friday

For this 40th edition, the program “takes up the traditions of everything that has been done in 40 years with a few modifications”, specifies Audrey Poupardin. “Our outdoor courses always follow two main axes: discovering a new region and part of the equestrian sector”. Thus, the children, who are installed in boys’ rooms on the racetrack, enjoy the beach and the racetrack and its fiber court as adults, but also discover Mont Canisy, the Enclos farm … All marked by festive evenings. The key event at this meeting will be, as every year, the disguised parade in the streets of Deauville, which will gather about 150 ponies on Friday, April 29th. “Historically, we are often told that this is a bit of what sets the season in motion for the city center shoppers,” smiles the residence director.

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