“I do not agree with those who say that high-level sports and animal welfare are incompatible”, Edward Levy (2/2)

As only twenty-seven years old, Edward Levy is already entering his sixth season at the highest level. If he is now one of the well-known leaders of French jumping, Norman by adoption now intends to find a place in the French team in the long term. Met last Saturday during Saut Hermès at the Grand Palais Éphémère, between two classifications of his brilliant Rebeca LS, the Norman made in paris discussed its goals for 2022 and its perpetual desire to improve in order to achieve them. In the second part of this interview, he mainly talks about his system, inspired by his many experiences, but also the well-being of his horses, one of his priorities.

The first part of this interview can be found here.

You are riding more young horses and will have to renew part of your efforts in the coming years. Given your workforce, can you look to the future with confidence?

If all the horses pass the course, I think I have enough replacements. We have a fairly successful system with about fifteen young people of really good quality. I’m lucky to have really motivated owners behind me who are constantly looking for recruits. We can also count on those who are about to reach maturity like Catchar Mail (SF, Diamond of Semilly x Calvaro, editor’s note)Confidence in Ass (SF, Diamond of Semilly x Berlin) and many horses from the stables of the Lord, which are now seven or eight years old. I am still as motivated and passionate as ever. I am lucky to have the support of people who love this sport and want to work smart. I can not say whether everything is ready in two or five years, let alone tomorrow. It will depend on the alignment of the planets, but everything is in place to make it last.

You are twenty-seven years old and you have been present at a high level since 2016, but we continue to present you as ‘the little kid on the french team’. Is it not because you are the last one who has managed to settle down permanently and the suitors are not legion?

I would not say that it is because there are not many people behind me, but rather because those in front are all fifteen years older! (laughs, editor’s note). Unfortunately, competing at a high level is not just a matter of talent. You need a system, opportunities, horses, an organization, but also the means to be able to travel to the four corners of the globe, employees who manage the rest of the stables, training of a new generation, etc. Participating in a few big competitions is quite accessible by being good and having a horse of this caliber. The hardest part is keeping up the pace. This is the real challenge for our sport. The competitions are more and more, just like the good horses and riders, which makes the competition even tougher. I’m sure Frenchmen of my generation will arrive. When I compete in CSI 2 * and 3 *, I see super young people who I am sure have a bright future ahead of them. At least that’s what I want them to do. But it is certain that it takes just as much talent as management skills to reach the top level.

“Trying to be as competitive as possible while respecting my horses as much as possible”

On a regular basis, the young people say that they are inspired by the system that has been introduced. Are you aware of being a model in this field?

I dare not say I’m aware that I have a really good system, but I’m sure I spent all my energy setting it up when I started my activity. I had a very clear idea of ​​how I would function thanks to my experience. I traveled a lot and wanted to mix everything I could have learned by adding my personal touch. My philosophy is to try to be as competitive as possible while respecting my horses as much as possible. I’m passionate about my life because I share it with horses that I love and that love me back. I do not think I would flourish, even when I perform very well, if there was a tiny kind of hardness in my function. People who know me know that I like to create a pair with every horse, I always say to myself that they are gifted, I trust their qualities. From an organizational point of view, the system is quite structured with, among other things, a stable manager, a groom, a competition rider, a secretary, so I can concentrate on the development of my horses and my rider.

What do you think is most successful in your system? And what do you have left to improve?

I am happy to have reached the top level by adopting this philosophy of working with horses as well as good organization. In addition, there is a good state of mind in my team. As for improvement, I would say: the jumper!

You say you want to be loved by your horses. How to achieve it?

I try to find the best possible feature for each one, from case to case. For example, Sirius (Sort, SF, Calisco du Pitray x Laudanum, PS) must work in the quarry about once a month. The rest of the time, he only goes to the beach or the gallop track and does not skip a bar. When it comes to competition, he is happy to work. If I asked him for such a concentration every day, he would get tired and no longer have the same desire once in the competition. He is sixteen years old and gave me a lot because he was my only horse and my teacher.

Conversely, Rebeca (LS, Rebozo La Silla x Cassini I, ed. Note) is a true warrior, not a princess. She likes to fight. For example, this morning in the speed test (interview conducted on Saturday, the day when the bay became number eight at 1.50 m and third at 1.55 m, editor’s note), I did not go extremely fast, but I did not let her fall asleep either, so that she would not make mistakes when she came to a major course. When I also ride a lot of stallions, I create a bond for each one, but they are a little different, so we must not forget to maintain a certain mutual respect. This requires a little more rigor than e.g. work of experienced jumpers. Riding all the horses in the same way would be less tiring, but clearly less effective. My horses are all different, I do not have a predefined style. They mostly have a modern model, but I also like to drive on larger ones. The most important thing is that they will give of themselves. The rest means less.

Animal welfare occupies an increasingly important place in debates and discussions. What inspires you?

Obviously I’m a fan of it. I am deeply in love with horses, so I believe that animal welfare awareness is paramount. I, on the other hand, am less sure of the question mark that is in our sport. Of course, I generalize, but I think those who are not in the perfect hunt for animal welfare should be reprimanded. I do not see many other than my own work, but I see the riders every weekend and you have to remember that horses at the highest level are treated like royalty. Everything that is put in place around them goes in this direction. In any case, I do not agree with those who say that top sport is incompatible with animal welfare.

In your quest for achievement, have you ever had an awareness or impression of having put your sporting ambitions ahead of your horses and their integrity?

Honestly, no. I’m still looking for the perfect balance, but I’m more on the opposite side. I can sometimes overprotect my horses, get into competition and realize that my horse is not in the game. Sometimes I let my horses breathe for a certain period of time, take them to competitions and realize when they are there that they may have missed a little training. It’s not beneficial in terms of results either, but I do not want to load my horses into a truck with the feeling that I am demanding too much of them. And it never happened to me.

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