"The essence of dressage is harmony"

September 9. 2023

"The essence of dressage is harmony"

France's Pauline Basquin (FRA) and Sertorius de Rima Z wowed at the European Dressage Championships in Riesenbeck, Germany


France's Pauline Basquin (FRA) and Sertorius de Rima Z wowed at the European Dressage Championships in Riesenbeck, Germany

Pauline Basquin and her 13-year-old Zangersheide gelding, Sertorius de Rima Z, quietly captivated the hearts of spectators at the FEI European Dressage Championships in Riesenbeck. This French duo, relatively new to the international dressage scene since last year, has been steadily gaining recognition, even contributing to their team's victory in the Nations Cup in Rotterdam.

Their most significant individual achievement to date occurred in yesterday's Grand Prix Special, where they secured a spot in tomorrow's freestyle with an impressive score of 73.328 percent. Many spectators felt that their performance deserved even higher marks. The petite 44-year-old rider and her elegant dark bay partner embody the essence of dressage, which, for Basquin, is all about harmony. It's a quality that defines their partnership.

Surprisingly, Basquin's equestrian journey began in the world of showjumping. Her parents ran a pony club near Rennes in Brittany, and she was already in the saddle while other children were taking their first steps. Choosing a career in riding was a natural progression for her. She went on to achieve the higher riding instructor exam, equivalent to Germany's master's exam, at the Cadre Noir in Saumur. The Cadre Noir is a renowned French riding school, often likened to a blend of Austria's Spanish Riding School and Germany's national base in Warendorf, albeit without the backing of a federation.

After successfully passing the exam, Basquin seized the opportunity to participate in an entrance test for the Cadre Noir, a move that marked the beginning of her enduring journey within this prestigious institution. Her affiliation with the Cadre Noir commenced in 2007 and has since been a significant part of her life.

Performance Sertorius

Basquin used to ride showjumping horses, training and competing with them up to a 1.35-meter level. However, after the birth of her two sons, she decided to shift her focus away from competitive tournaments and towards more equestrian galas, particularly the performances with the Cadre Noir. These galas showcase high-level equitation, similar to the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, featuring classical riding techniques and movements performed on horseback.

Sertorius de Rima Z IFCE, a three-year-old at the time, joined the Cadre Noir and was destined to become a part of these prestigious equestrian showcases. Being relatively small and delicate, he was not suitable for male riders, which turned out to be fortunate for Basquin. She took on the task of training and developing Sertorius, initially with the intention of eventually passing him on to another rider once he was ready.

However, when Sertorius turned five, Pauline Basquin began to sense that he possessed exceptional potential. He was not destined to be just another showjumper for the galas; he had the makings of a dressage horse destined for the grand arena. "I've always loved riding him because he's so intelligent and has so much energy," Basquin says, describing the feeling in the saddle.

Steep career

The plan to "ride fewer shows" was short-lived and proved unsuccessful. At the tender age of seven, Sertorius emerged as France's top young horse, and he continued to excel, even reaching the S*** level. However, a setback occurred when he had to take a two-year hiatus due to colic. In 2021, he made a triumphant return, and by 2022, he was competing in his first international Grand Prix competitions. That same year, he earned a nomination for the World Championships in Herning, marking a consistent upward trajectory in their journey together.

For Pauline Basquin, the prospect of competing for the European title in the freestyle is a cause for great joy. However, she is consciously avoiding putting excessive pressure on herself. Her primary goal is to savor the experience and relish the enjoyment of the moment.

In her quest for the perfect freestyle music, Basquin delved into the depths of the internet, listening to countless tracks under the keyword "epic music." This meticulous search took her several hours. Ultimately, she discovered a piece of music that resonated with her and Sertorius' embodiment of the Cadre Noir tradition, as well as the gelding's graceful movements. It was further arranged by a friend to suit their performance.

If Sertorius were a human, Basquin playfully describes him as "very handsome, a bit sassy, and someone who loves to be the center of attention." Tomorrow, he will indeed revel in the spotlight, capturing not just titles but also hearts along the way.

The FEI Grand Prix Freestyle starts Sunday, September 10th, at 1.30 pm