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Jenny Ducoffre: “Igor is the most arrogant horse I have ever met”

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping. Igor and Jenny Ducoffre at the Prague Playoffs. “After taking care of him half of his life, it does finally feel as if he would chose me over any other groom and that we have developed a special bond," Jenny tells. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.


Text © World of Showjumping 



According to his show groom Jenny Ducoffre, European team gold medallist Igor (Emerald x Nabab de Reve) doesn’t care about her – nor about anybody else. Jenny tells World of Showjumping how she has been forced to come to terms with the special demands from Jos Verlooy’s chestnut gelding.

“When I started to take care of Igor, I could leave the stable crying. It was really hard for me to accept that our top horse wouldn’t be my best friend; that he really couldn’t care less about whether or not I was his groom. Most horses give you attention and affection in return, and you have the feeling that they really like you – but not Igor. He just doesn’t care!"

Igor came to Euro Horse and the Verlooy-family’s stable when he was five years old. “Tim van de Broek rode him before he came to us. I believe that if it wasn’t for Tim, Igor would probably just have been seen as a difficult horse and he would never be where he is today,” Jenny explains. “He was not the easiest horse to ride, and bucked every rider off.”

“In the beginning, Igor was not easy to work with. He always wanted to get it his way. Still, he wants me to be totally focused on him: It’s him or nothing.” Jenny tells. “He is not naughty or dangerous, but there is no spot on my body that hasn’t been blue because of Igor,” Jenny says laughing. “I can’t do anything in a rush with him, if I try I will definitely not get it done.”

When riding and hand walking, Ducoffre has found her own tricks to get Igor to go where she wants him to. “If I want to turn left, I pretend I want to go right – then we always end up where I wanted to go. However, Igor always has to believe it was his idea. Even when Jos is riding him he has his own opinions, and when Igor thinks he is done working it is not easy to convince him that it’s not the case.”




When asked about why he always has to shit against the wall, the obvious answer is "Because I can".



For someone as intelligent as Igor, you might think he would be aware of everything, but he isn’t. “If I walk him on long reins, he can easily walk straight into the wall – that is just one example. Each day is full of surprises with him; like this winter when Igor had a show break and got to go hacking in the forest every day. The rider called me and asked if someone could come and pick them up, Igor had decided not to move anymore. They had been standing still for 20 minutes, so we had to send out another horse and rider in the forest to collect them. Then Igor was happy to walk back home. That’s Igor…”

Although Igor loves to be at the shows, he was never Jenny’s favourite to bring with. “Now that I have finally accepted that he really doesn’t care about me, it does not bother me so much anymore though. Somehow, our bond is special anyway – even without him showing me affection in return,” Jenny smiles. 

“Igor is the most arrogant horse I have ever met, but actually he has the right to be because he is one of the best horses there is. I have never seen him jump a bad round, and if he gets a fault – sorry Jos – it is mostly caused by a rider mistake,” Jenny says. “There is a reason he got the nickname “Because he can”! And that goes for everything that Igor does – not just the jumping – he does everything “Because he can”."

"I’m still waiting for the day when Igor comes out of the ring tired, or at least showing that he made some effort. He always gets out of the ring looking like ‘where is the next course to jump?’” she laughs.

”All this being told, Igor can also be sweet and funny!” Jenny smiles. “After taking care of him half of his life, it does finally feel as if he would chose me over any other groom and that we have developed a special bond. However, I’m quite sure he would survive completely on his own,” Jenny closes off laughing.  

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