Bob Coleman, PhD, PAS, associate director for undergraduate education in equine science and management and extension horse specialist, gives his perspective on a recent trip to France.

It goes without saying that the horse industry is very diverse. When looking at the scope of the industry in Kentucky with all its different breeds, you might think you have seen it all. Can you imagine what you might see if you stepped outside Kentucky or even outside the United States?

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to France. My primary reason for the trip was to teach in the Master's of Equine Science and Business at AgroSup in Dijon. The time spent with students was great, and despite language challenges (I do not speak French), the language of the horse provided comfort and commonality.

Fortunately, my time was not spent only in the classroom. I also had the opportunity to visit horse operations across the country.

In Burgundy I visited a Selle Francais breeding farm for show jumpers. In Normandy I visited the Deauville racecourse and had an interesting discussion on the use of an all-weather surface to allow for extended race dates. We continued our tour to both Thoroughbred and Warmblood operations, which included a number of the state studs where a number of stallions of different breeds stand. At the State Riding School I had an opportunity to meet with one of the Cadre Noir. This school focuses on teaching future riding instructors for all of France. The discussion focused on good horsemanship and the doctrine of the French riding school.

The highlight of my tour was seeing European Horse of the Year and Eclipse Award-winning champion turf female Goldikova. Yes, like any race fan, I had to get a picture of this outstanding horse.

When I told someone of my trip and seeing Goldikova, they commented on how exciting it must have been and, yes, it was. But seeing all segments of the horse industry was what was great. I had the opportunity to meet great horsemen and see wonderful horses of many breeds.

The take-home message when I looked closely--there are some differences between our industries, yes, but oh so many similarities because it is about the horse.


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