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Discovering "equifeel"!

2 November 2023

One of the things that makes Equita Lyon such a great show is the diversity of the events and disciplines on the programme. With this in mind, an "equifeel" event was organised this Wednesday in Hall 5. But what exactly is "equifeel"? We explain the principles behind this discipline, based on respect for horses. 

Equifeel is similar to working on foot, in order to highlight the close relationship between the horse and rider. «It's like an extension of your horse's education. The goal is to teach people not to use strong actions or gestures to ask the horse to do something,» explains Joanna Roux, a competition judge and chairwoman of the discipline's flagship association in France, Equifeel Partage. Walking side by side, the rider-horse pair must complete a series of fun tests, either free or with a halter. For example, the rider has to get his/her horse to walk over a sheet on the ground and get the horse to stop on the sheet for 5 seconds; another test is to get the horse to slalom between cones.

In competition, a class is made up of at least five of the 23 tests listed in the rules. «I've been doing equifeel for nearly eight years now. I also do other riding disciplines, but this allows me to have a really versatile horse. I have already been to Equita. It's not an easy environment because it's noisy and crowded... but that's also what makes it so interesting. It's a way of testing the connection we have with our horse,» explains the 28-year-old Valentine, who is taking part in the class with Baiko (14 years old). It is the same story for Elodie, who is at Equita with her five-year-old Welsh pony, Chouka de l'Espoir: «He was nervous at first, but Chouka relaxed as the workshops progressed. It's really rewarding to pass each test in this environment. There are a lot of distractions around the horses, so it's up to us to keep them focused with us.»   

And to help those who are new to equifeel, the competition was hosted and commented by Joanna Roux: «Equita Lyon is the main event of the year for us. It's a real showcase, which gives equifeel exposure to a large audience.»  

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