A symbolic centre of academic horse-riding
Our show stables are a true community devoted to a love of horses and equestrian shows, a conservatory of academic horse-riding. Every year, the Equestrian troop gives more than 120 shows, enchanting tens of thousands of spectators.
Over the last 37 years, the Great Stables in Chantilly have become a symbolic centre of academic horse-riding, in the same way as Saumur, Lisbon and Jerez.
In November 2011, the French riding tradition practised at the Great Stables in Chantilly was inscribed on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
A veritable institution that is recognised for the seriousness and quality of its horse-riding, the Great Stables are characterised by the passion of a team that is proud to wear the red and black uniform, by the search for excellence, attention to detail and the originality of its creations.
The running of stables such as these requires flawless organisation, to ensure the daily care, training, progression and veterinarian monitoring of each horse; and also the preparation of shows, rehearsals and daily demonstrations.
Stablemen, riders, coaches, quartermistress, veterinarian, dentist, osteopath, blacksmith and masseurs all work in close collaboration to ensure optimum comfort for the equids and give the best possible welcome to visitors.
- 9 riders
- 4 grooms
- 1 quartermistress
- 26 horses
- 10 ponies
- 3 donkeys and 1 mule
Every year the Equestrian troop stages three shows: one show that runs all year round, a second during the summer and a third during the Christmas season.
Written and directed by Sophie Bienaimé and her sister Virginie, the shows in the Great Stables combine several arts: haute école horse-riding (piaffe, passage, pirouettes, half-pass, change of leg), dressage movements (bows, laying down, prancing, Spanish walk), vaulting, music, theatre, circus…
Everything is delicately showcased, with talented costume designer Monica Mucha adding the final touch to this enchanting blend of charm and technicity.
The instructors are riders who are recruited with a required level of instructorship (one of two French diplomas) and an aptitude for dressage. They are regularly coached by high-level trainers (Véronique Pruède and Vincent Guilloteau) and an instructor from the Cadre Noir in Saumur (Olivier Puls).
But being a good rider is not enough to perform on stage. It is necessary to acquire acting skills, in particular during preparations for shows, when the director, Virginie Bienaimé, a former student of the Claude Mathieu school of acting, focuses on this scenic aspect. In general, three horses and a pony are entrusted to each rider, who takes charge of them and must form a “couple” with each one. It is this complicity, this harmony between the rider and her horse or pony, that creates a strong presence on stage.
Sophie Bienaimé’s role is to direct the team of grooms and riders, to purchase show horses and to ensure their progression with the team and coaches. With her sister Virginie, she writes and directs all of the shows staged at the Great Stables. In the arena, she can be seen in the finest free riding acts with Guizao and Lotus, and with Amistoso in her acts riding side saddle.
Elodie is funny, artistic, unpredictable, creative and a true horsewoman. This is demonstrated in “her” acts, created using her imagination and her equestrian knowledge. Elodie can do anything in the arena, but her free riding with Federkiel and Bilbao is especially popular.
Born in Paris, Mathilde grew up in Normandy, horse country. She comes from a family of riders, musicians and actors, and was “steeped” in horses and the stage from a very young age. She uses her singing talent in the museum’s creations and musical illustrations in shows. She also enchants audiences with her “golden” horses and her three donkeys.
An instructor who is passionate about dressage, Nathalie joined the Great Stables Equestrian troop in 2010. She has been riding since the age of 4 and learnt the basics on an English Thoroughbred, with which she wanted to become a dressage expert, while at the same time working with young horses. We love to see her on Arabo-Friesian Wietse, and in her moments of complicity with her three Palomino ponies, Kefir, Rigolo and Izalco.
Caroline is the stables manager. She plans and organises daily activity with riders, thanks to the programmes put in place by the various departments. She also manages the equids, who are regularly monitored by the vet, the blacksmith, the osteopath and the dentist. With a background in classical dressage, she masters the Grand Prix movements with Zagalo and Danubio.
Estelle caught the horse “virus” at a very early age: at 9 months old she sat on her aunt’s horse with her as she went riding! Subsequently, she worked in an equestrian troop. Passionate about the art of dressage, she also created equestrian shows with her own horses. She has built up a strong connection with Guadalquivir, the long-maned Andalusian.
Together with Estelle, Lisa is a recent recruit. After obtaining a horse-riding certificate from the Conches Equestrian Village, she concentrated on dressage, having always been interested in the imaginative inventiveness of equestrian shows. She developed a passion for long-reining with Koala.
A rider and instructor, Clara is present three mornings a week to help with taking out horses when their riders are on holidays. Clara knows all the horses’ characters and takes them out into the forest for some fresh air. She also participates in equestrian demonstrations and shows as a stand-in.
The troop’s Swedish rider trained at the prestigious national school of horse-riding in Strömsholm. From pure dressage, which she practised at competitive level in Sweden (and still practises in France), she was happy to move into equestrian shows. She was delighted to discover free riding dressage, which she is developing with the mischievous Hamilton. Zigzag the pony accompanies her acts.
Sophie Justin, Quartermistress
A former rider, Sophie Justin is now quartermistress of the Great Stables: in charge of purchasing supplies for the stables; costume assistant, with her needle always to the ready to repair costumes; sound and lighting technician; co-designer of sets; accountant; etc., etc.! Sophie Justin plays a crucial role in the smooth running of the Equestrian troop.
Encounter with Sophie Bienaimé, “The Soul of the Great Stables”
Sophie Bienaimé’s role is to direct the team of grooms and riders, to purchase show horses and to ensure their progression with the team and coaches. With her sister Virginie, she writes and directs all of the shows staged at the Great Stables. Daughter of Yves Bienaimé, the founder of the Living Museum of the Horse, who initiated the shows and demonstrations in the Great Stables, Sophie has been active since a very young age in the world of horses and shows.