“You have to reinvent yourself, be creative and take risks'': Jessica Gordon, director of the Paris Horse Show

Credit : GP-R France/DR

Friday 23 November - 17h44 | Lorène Faucompré

“You have to reinvent yourself, be creative and take risks'': Jessica Gordon, director of the Paris Horse Show

This weekend at the Paris Nord-Villepinte Exhibition Center near the French capital, the Paris Horse Show kicks off, running through December 2, 2018. Jessica Gordon, director of the event, explains what is in store for this 47th edition of this massive equestrian rendezvous.

 - “You have to reinvent yourself, be creative and take risks'': Jessica Gordon, director of the Paris Horse Show

GrandPrix-Replay: You’ve been the director of the Paris Horse Show since 2016. And this year, you wanted to represent all the equestrian disciplines: jumping, dressage, eventing, vaulting, hunter, pony-games, Western, etc. For this edition, two new disciplines are being presented, ‘equifun’ and archery. Why so many disciplines for a single event?

Jessica Gordon: I am voracious when it comes to horses – I have an insatiable desire to explore all equestrian possibilities! It is true that this is a lot of disciplines, but we must not forget that there are nine days of events. Ours is the equestrian event that lasts the longest in France. And as a ‘Horse Show’, our role is to be representative of all the varied disciplines which feature equines. It's complicated for the organizing teams and the logistics, but in my opinion, you have to reinvent yourself, be creative and take risks.

GPR: The Paris Horse Show also hosts the opening stage of the Longines Masters, which brings together the global elite of show jumping at a CSI 5* competition. Entrance tickets for the Salon and Longines Masters are to a certain extent linked and it is possible for visitors to cross between the two worlds, which are separated into two halls. Do you think this mixture is necessary and beneficial to both parties?

J.G .: The mixture is necessary, for sure. The Show and the Longines Masters are very complementary to each other. A CSI 5* needs to be connected to an event like this. The Horse Show has a lot of visitors, most of whom are practitioners and come to be inspired by these great riders. In addition, the Longines Masters is extremely well-organized…. For me, it's the icing on the cake! The Horse Show concludes with top-level sporting events, recognized worldwide. We need both, and we offer the public a wide range of sports.
 
GPR: The Horse Show is of course inseparable from entertainment. The Night of the Horse, for example, brings together sports and artistic performances by offering the Devoucoux Indoor Derby Cross and a show combining equestrian art and dance. Does the Night always have the same success year after year?

J.G .: In 2015, I think we had arrived at the end of a 100% pure equestrian Horse Night show. The audience – made up of many riders – wants to see sports, which fits perfectly into our overall vision for the show. Fortunately, I crossed paths with Laurent Duray [President of CWD and the Devoucoux companies, who also sponsor the indoor cross at the Jumping de Bordeaux – editor's note] who trusted me and allowed me to put on a sporting event on one of the nights. I was of course inspired by the Bordeaux Indoor Cross, which is magnificent. I am very excited about this discipline, which is difficult to follow when you are walking on eventing courses. The indoor cross is a narrow format over 1 km, which allows the public to follow the entire course. People are thrilled, horses and riders like that. Horse Night has exploded since we set up this event. Moreover, it has been sold out since the first edition, in 2016!
 
GP: The Salon also dedicates a space to animal health and well-being. And the best equine health experts meet for the Equirencontres to discuss topics that affect all stakeholders in the industry. In addition, equestrian fans can take in the Innovation Awards, which highlight new projects that are still unknown to the general public. Can one conclude that the Horse Show is focused on teaching?

J.G .: This year, we have indeed opened a wellness area that will target the practical side of riding. We are bringing the public to participate in practical workshops, such as "how to check the health of my horse," etc. There are many club riders who are starting out and would like to know more. We communicate at all levels; everyone must be able to ask questions to all the stakeholders on-site. I think the Salon is the ideal setting for the equestrian community to mix and exchange. The Equirencontres will cover important topics, and veterinarians of the AVEF (French Equine Veterinary Association, ed) will also be present to explain advances in medicine. The Horse Show is set up so that everyone can come to touch, understand, and discover as much as possible. Continued below.

GPR: The Paris Horse Show is also devoted to breeding, bringing together various associations of French breeds and breeders. Members of the public can discover new breeds and maybe even find their dream horse. How do you respond to those who deplore the fact that breeders, one of the foundations of the equine industry, are generally not enough represented at the show?

J.G .: I totally agree with them! That has been one of my biggest disappointments in the past. We want to highlight all the beautiful breeds of French horses. It is unfortunately quite difficult to put this into practice, and we are still under discussion as to how to better include them. To get to Villepinte is complicated for breeders; it is generally far for them and it is a long event– it lasts nine days. I hope to have a few more breeding associations in 2019 and to present more horses, ponies, and foals to the publics... To better represent the livestock sector is my big objective for next year.
 
GP: Beginning with the World Championship of Arabian Horses – one of the essential parts of the Horse Show which celebrates its 38th edition this year – and concluding with the Longines Masters of Paris, the Horse Show aims to cover everything in the equine universe over nine days of festivities. With nearly 140,000 visitors expected, 270 exhibitors and 2,500 horses, is it possible to further enrich the event in 2019?

JG: That's all I think about! I'm not easy to live with for my teams, because I never stop and I'm very much on the lookout for everything. I do not shrink from any project. In 2019, I hope to be able to propose a new discipline, a new approach, a new way of having fun with your horse and progressing, whether in a leisure context or in competition. Logistically, it's a lot to take on, but my teams are great because they never say no. Every year, I try to start on a blank page and reinvent myself. We always have to offer something for visitors. We want to tell them that what you are going to see here, you will not see him anywhere else. Everything interests me and I want to offer the widest range of possibilities in the equestrian world... 

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