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The Next Generation: Laetitia Du Couëdic

Wednesday, 20 December 2017
The Next Generation

Photo (c) Tiffany Van Halle. Laetitia Du Couëdic in action in Paris, at the Saut Hermès. Photo (c) Tiffany Van Halle.

“Don’t compare yourself to anybody else,” answers Laetitia Du Couëdic when asked about her best advice to young riders who want to succeed internationally. “Do things your own way and in your own tempo, and make sure to surround yourself with the right people. Know who to trust and know who are your friends. Also, make sure to every now and then take a minute, breathe and see where you are.”

The Swiss 21-year-old should know what she is speaking about. She has trained with the likes of Kevin Staut, Daniel Bluman and now Jean Maurice Bonneau – and showed on both the European and American circuit. Du Couëdic was also a part of last year’s A Young Riders Academy-program, and is still under their wings – participating in their activities. Although this all sounds glorious, Du Couëdic also knows the rough sides of the sport – and that there is no easy way to success.

With a mother that was riding, Laetitia got smitten early on. She competed nationally in the children category in Switzerland, and got her breakthrough as a junior on the mare Elisa. “We had no idea how good she was when we bought her,” Laetitia says. “We got Elisa and her sister together back in December 2012, unfortunately we lost her sister later as she died due to colic,” Laetitia tells. “However, Eliza went on to be amazing – in a couple of months I was jumping the 1.40ms on her and that same summer I went to the European Championships for juniors. There we won gold with the team as well as finishing 7th individually. Then we won the Swiss Championships for juniors.”

2013 was a big year for Laetitia, who in October won the U25 1.45m Grand Prix in Chevenez, Switzerland. “As the winner of that Grand Prix, I got invited to jump at CHI Geneva and at CSI Salzburg. I was only 17-years-old, and it was a great experience – although looking back it was maybe a bit too soon for me,” Laetitia says about her sudden success.

In 2014, Laetitia finished school and decided to take a gap year to focus on her riding. “Through Magali Dubois Vaucher, I had met Kevin Staut and it was organized that I could go and spend the next six months with him. After those six months, I decided to stay six more – Kevin was such a good teacher. He taught me a lot about the basics, and about control and how to make the horse available for you as a rider so that you can ask anything. It was a lot of gymnastics and a lot of cavalettis,” Laetitia tells. “Kevin is fantastic, not only as a rider but as a person – he is very human and is very empathic. At this point of my life I was also not very good at expressing myself, and he helped me with that.”

“While I was with Kevin, I was looking for a young rider horse. One day, one of Kevin’s riders was on Cheyenne and I was saying that she looked so nice – to which he replied that she was for sale. I was laughing at the idea of it, but he said ‘Just ask, or you’ll never know’,” Laetitia smiles. “So I did, and luckily for me we managed to find a way with Haras des Coudrettes that we could buy her – which was amazing. I was always riding quite inexperienced horses, so to get a horse like Cheyenne totally changed things for me,” Laetitia tells. “Without the right horses it is so hard to make it to a higher level.  Cheyenne has been my greatest teacher, and has given me so much confidence!”

After her time with Kevin, Laetitia was not quite ready to return home to Switzerland – she wanted a different kind of experience and decided to discover the American system. “I approached Daniel Bluman and asked if there was a place for me on his team. I stayed with him two months in Belgium, before I came with him to the States. In addition to Cheyenne I also had one horse with me for sale, which luckily enough got sold – so I could pay my bills!” Laetitia laughs. “While I was there I got the chance to jump the Saturday night classes at WEF, and I also competed in my first World Cup. I also enjoyed experiencing the hunter and equitation business, it was something completely new for me and very interesting. To train with Daniel was completely different than to train with Kevin. Daniel was hard, but in a good way – but it was tough to accept some of the things he told me, although I knew he was right. I cried a bit, I will admit!” she laughs. “Also, my time with Daniel taught me more about the business aspect: How to sell, and when to sell – very important if you want to make it on your own.”

Photo (c)  Fabio Petroni / YRA Laetitia Du Couëdic with A Young Riders Academy-friends Derin Demirsoy, Jack Dodd and Michael G Duffy. Photo (c) Fabio Petroni / YRA

“In March last year I found myself back in Switzerland, and decided to apply to join A Young Riders Academy. There were so many riders that wanted to get in, I honestly did not think I would have a chance. Fortunately, they do not only look at your results and in the end I was taken into their Educational Program which has been a great experience. As I had already spend some time with Kevin and Daniel, I was happy to be able to get the input that the Educational Program offers: Management, veterinary care, FEI rules – things you should know, but don’t. I loved it, it was so interesting! Sven and Eleonora are so extremely generous with the next generation of riders, I really have so much respect for what they are doing,” Laetitia says.

“Now, I train with Jean Maurice and he comes to me every second month and also helps me at the shows. He has so much knowledge, and has ideas and solutions for every problem there is. He is a great person, I really love him!” Laetitia says.

After five intense years on the showjumping circuit, Laetitia decided to return to the school bench this autumn and is now combining her riding with marketing and business management studies. “As the schedule for my studies is good it is possible to combine the two, so I can play with it quite well,” she says. “But, my dream in the end is to only ride!”

 


Text © World of Showjumping by Jannicke Naustdal // Pictures © Tiffany Van Halle and Fabio Petroni / YRA

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