THE MORE MARES THE MERRIER: Chloé Nobécourt & Pedro Veniss
Text by Jonathan Yee | Photos courtesy of Hermès
Hermès partner rider Pedro Veniss & director of equestrian métier Chloé Nobécourt

It’s a sport as well as performance art. Show jumping is the name of the game and the very best riders and horses make appearances all around the world to be crowned the best in their craft. One of these elite competitions is Saut Hermès, held each spring in the French Capital. We get the scoop from Pedro Veniss, a partner rider with Hermès, and Chloé Nobécourt, the director of the equestrian métier at Hermès.

MANIFESTO: Pedro, can you tell us how this partnership began with Hermès?

PEDRO VENISS: I met Marion Larochette (the former director of the equestrian métier at Hermès) at the Rio Olympics in 2016. She asked me to try the Hermès saddle and see how I felt. I liked it very much and that was how we started the partnership.

M: How would you describe the difference between a Hermès saddle and the others?

PV: The major difference is that everything in Hermès is handmade. And the leather really makes the Hermès saddle stand out from the crowd.

M: Pedro, what does Saut Hermès mean to you and to your career?

PV: I think it is one of the best competitions in the world. We are in Paris and the place is unique. So, it’s a big motivation to be here this weekend.

M: What is your expectation?

PV: I have a horse that doesn’t have a lot of experience, and this is a relatively small arena. So, I’m going to try my best.

M: How does your practice or training schedule look like?

PV: I ride about six to eight horses per day, an hour per horse. I make a lot of trips every week.

M: Chloé, this isn’t your first Saut Hermès because you’ve been working in Hermès for many years.

CHLOÉ NOBÉCOURT: You’re right, I started in Hermès 10 years ago and Saut Hermès is always one of my favourite moments w ith the brand. But a s the equestrian métier director, this is the first Saut Hermès under my belt.

M: Can we expect to see something new at Saut Hermès?

CN: For sure! What we can expect is an incredible level of sport. Every year, we have the best international riders joining the competition. We also have new riders especially the talents who are under 25 years old and have the opportunity to compete for the first time at this level of competition. As Pedro just mentioned, our competition venue is superb - the proximity to the Eiffel Tower means our riders are literally riding by the tower. We also have experienced partner riders to serve as a mentor for the young riders to coach them and share ideas on how to prepare for competition. And this is very important for us because we want to pass on knowledge to the next generation. Also, our historical saddle workshop is located at 24 Faubourg Saint Honoré. Our doors are open and visitors are able to witness how our craftsmen make a saddle – leather cutting and assembling are all demonstrated there. And you can chat with them to get a deeper understanding as well. Due to the demands of our historical workshop, it cannot accommodate any more craftsmen, which is why we’re opening a new workshop in Normandy. Also, you must try our virtual jumping game, although it isn’t on an actual horse!

M: We just heard from Pedro about how Hermès saddles stand out in the market. How would you describe it?

CN: Apart from the know-how and leather which already are the two major points, I would say it’s the way we work – the craftsmen, the saddle expert and our partner riders. We are such a small and tight knit team. Our partner riders come to the workshop and hold discussions regularly. It’s a very close relationship. You might think that world champions come with a big team but in actuality, it’s a very small team working together with our metier.

M: How often do you offer feedback and comments to the partner riders?

CN: It depends on our rider as we have our saddle expert, who is our eyes to interpret, improve or translate the performance and technical aspects to our craftsman. When the rider has a new horse or in the need of a new saddle, we must first listen to our rider’s criteria on the saddle, then the crafting process can begin.

M: What are some of the challenges you face?

CN: Our challenge is to remain at the top and to never take it for granted. We keep our know-how but continue to explore areas that we can improve. Also, it’s our constant objective to communicate to a wider audience because our saddles are not only for professional riders but also for amateur and leisure riders as well.

M: Before joining the equestrian métier, you were in the Client’s Experience and Retail Merchandising division. How has your strengths in storytelling and product knowledge aided your current role?

CN: It was an amazing experience because we were creating initiatives from the customer’s perspective. At the equestrian métier, we are very lucky to have a close relationship with our partner riders, and it’s our clients’ dream to meet them. We aim to continue this special and authentic relationship and to make sure our clients get to ask these riders questions, especially on how to improve their personal performance. We participate in around 30 horse shows around the world, and we organise Saut Hermès annually to have a complete immersive experience showcasing our saddles, bridles, and collections.

M: Horse riding is a unique sport because you are not using equipment or machinery. Instead, it is about connecting with the animal.

CN: This makes the sport unique because every practice is different as it requires a connection between the rider and the horse. So, it adds a layer of complexity to the sport. Also, this is a sport that teaches you perseverance. You carry on even if it’s cold and rainy, and it doesn’t matter which season you’re in.

M: Tell us about the close relationship between the equestrian métier and the partner rider.

CN: We get to know their family, the owner, and even the groomer. We touch base every week. With our partner riders, we’ve experienced some wonderful moments together particularly when one of our partner riders, Simon Delestre, won the Grand Prix twice with Hermès. I still get goosebumps when I recall the moment Simon won – they are absolutely magical moments.

M: You recently joined the equestrian métier, what vision do you have for it?

CN: It’s a big responsibility and of course it’s about teamwork so I’m lucky that I’m not alone. I would say this is the first metier of the house. And for me, it is the soul of Hermès. This is a metier that aims to strike a perfect balance between tradition and functionality, because we need to preserve our craftsmanship and also develop our k now-how and innovation. We have our partner riders to discuss functionality with our saddle experts and craftsmen, so it helps us make progress. And most importantly: the horse. This sport isn’t possible with the horse. So, the well-being of the horse is absolutely crucial. The morphology of the horses is changing and evolving – we work with their groomers, vets, and osteopath… a full team to make sure our saddles enable the horses to have the best freedom of movement. So, this is one of my goals to make sure we develop state-of-the-art equipment. In fact, the bridle is our first know-how because we started with the harness. Hopefully, we can win some more medals at next year’s Olympic games in Paris because all the equipment has to be ready by now!

M: Within the métier, there are also other animal products available.

CN: Thank you for bringing this up as we see a surge in our pet product sales. Hermès started to make dog collars almost 30 years ago. We decided to relaunch the dog collar at our equestrian métier because dogs are life companions of humans, similar to how a rider spends their entire career with a beloved horse. Furthermore, you always see dogs when you go to a horse stable because all our riders have dogs. We have a comprehensive collection for the horse, and we are planning to do as much as possible for the dog as well. But I won’t reveal more!

StyleIt'a time for Hermès to show off their Summer 2024 menswear show in Paris. You can watch the live stream here on Saturday June 24 at 3pm (Paris Time) or 9pm (Hong Kong time). Read More
Watch & JewelleryThe pandemic has forever changed the way we shop, work, and even interact. However, not many in the watchmaking industry is asking how this moment has affected the watches we choose to wear on the regular. Well, the watch department ... Read More
JournalTo many, Greece is about civilisation and history. To others, maybe her picturesque islands and the majestic blue Aegean Sea. An abundance of flora and fauna thrive on her many islands such as Kythira. Thanks to Hermès, transporting there is ... Read More