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Swiss jumpers learn from the best at Nelson Pessoa clinic

Nelson Pessoa and his students on the outdoor ring of La Renfile Stable.

Nelson Pessoa and his students on the outdoor ring of La Renfile Stable. © Amélie Bès

Showjumping legend Nelson Pessoa has taken a two-day course at Switzerland’s Renfile Stables in Jussy/Geneva where he trained several riders, including European junior team gold medalist Laetitia du Couëdic.

Nelson Pessoa and Laetitia du Couëdic.

Nelson Pessoa and Laetitia du Couëdic. © Amélie Bès

As well as being a successful rider, Pessoa has trained many top international showjumpers, including his son, Olympic Gold, World Champion and triple World Cup winner Rodrigo Pessoa, Colombia’s Daniel Bluman, Brazilian rider Alvaro de Miranda, and Athina Onassis Miranda.

Laetitia du Couëdic, who recently became the Ambassador of Hermès Saddles, said of the clinic late last month: “We are so lucky that Nelson accepted to come to our stables. He is the ultimate horseman. He sees everything and is simply better than everyone else. Every problem comes with a solution. His analysis is spot-on from the very first minute.”

The two days started with the basics, including a careful examination of the horses and riders and their tack, and Pessos had an eye on every detail. The lessons did not start until every combination was ready. Then, horses and riders steadily lined up, received the first explanations.

As Pessoa said: “In the past, riders would first learn to ride properly and then go to competition. Showing was not the priority. Nowadays, riders immediately want to compete without having the necessary basis. Of course, their results are very uneven. I enjoy teaching at amateur level as I see very clear progress in a couple of days.”

Nelson Pessoa keeps a close eye on Laetitia du Couëdic's progress.

Nelson Pessoa keeps a close eye on Laetitia du Couëdic’s progress. © Amélie Bès

The first day focused on freshening up dressage basics and on the control of horses on a simple yet efficient “working line”. This is an exercise that Pessoa has been teaching for more than 50 years as it “works very well”, he said.

On the second day, he focused on jumping unusual fences such as a bare liverpool, and then on to a course which required balance and control of the horse.

Over lunch those on the course heard some of the stories from the career of “Neco”, who is based in Belgium. His European campaign started in Cologny (Geneva) after he moved from his native Brazil in 1961. Pessoa said: “Swiss people are very conservative. Fifty years have passed but I still recognise every place, every house. Almost nothing has changed”.

Over his career he won more than 150 grand prix events in Europe and more than 100 puissance competitions. He won the Hamburg Derby a record seven times, the Hickstead Derby three times, and won two gold and one silver medal in the Pan-American Games. He was also champion of Brazil four times.

Future clinics for both amateur and professional riders are being planned for the La Renfile Stables. Owner and manager Anne-Catherine Pieyre said welcoming Nelson Pessoa was a great honour. “I am very glad to offer the opportunity to riders to benefit from Nelson’s extensive know-how and passion. His generosity and energy are purely never-ending. It was a dream came true.”

Nelson Pessoa directs students at the clinic at La Renfile Stables.

Nelson Pessoa directs students at the clinic at La Renfile Stables. © Amélie Bès

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