Interview Aurélie Brihmat
The saddlery Gaston Mercier, partner of the Tour de France horseback rehabilitation centers asked some questions to Aurelie after his trial run by meeting the patients of the rehabilitation center Paul Cezanne de Mimet.
Tell us about this day on horseback and in the center.
We were eager to saddle our horses for this intervention in a reeducation center with our 2 loulous and Spy our dog mascot. I had already intervened in rehabilitation centers but never again with my four-legged acolytes. We left the equestrian center Grand Puech who kindly received us and the hike started to join the Paul Cézanne Rehabilitation Center in Mimet. The horses walked decisively, as if they knew that today they were invested with a great mission.
How was your approach accepted by the center’s medical team?
The center’s managers immediately adhered to our approach when we asked them to intervene in their center with the horses, delighted to leave a little “beaten track”. Thus, they asked us to come to the niches where all the medical staff would be present so that everyone could benefit from the intervention. They organized an outdoor snack while waiting for Team Handidream to arrive. The medical staff seemed just as interested in this intervention as the patients.
And by the patients?
Patients had been warned several days before our intervention with posters presenting the project. The arrival of the animals in the center seems to have been a real moment of happiness for the patients. Young, not so young, initiated to riding or not, all wanted to approach the horses for a moment of relaxation, sharing and hope. Some more withdrawn did not advance spontaneously, the size of a horse being impressive especially when one is sitting on a wheelchair. So we went to the most reserved, the most worried.
How was the contact between the patients and the horses?
Our horses have been unrecognizable. They are always kind and respectful, but that day they were just transformed, as anesthetized. The 2 horses were surrounded by wheelchairs, patients on either side sometimes having sudden movements. The horses did not move, sensitive to the difficulties of their entourage, they appreciated each caress without making a single abrupt gesture, even the flies did not make them raise a hoof of the ground. We knew we had nice horses, but we were amazed to see so much sensitivity and gentleness to people with disabilities. All they needed was the word …
And with you?
Rich and valuable exchanges, sharing experiences, we feel the same things, we speak the same language. I advise, I reassure and try to deliver a message of hope to explain that even with a disability life goes on, you have to know how to adapt things, find the strength to accept change, this new life that begins. But especially understand that if we are still there, it is that we still have many beautiful things to do and discover … Just for this adventure and all the good that I wish to bring to patients throughout France for 6 months, I do not regret fighting and getting there.
The highlights of this day?
The bright eyes of each patient, each in their own way. The horse is reminiscent of a moment of childhood for some, or is simply a breath of fresh air for others … The horses were absolutely calm but the patients did well.
If you had to take stock of this day?
That day, the horses were caregivers in the same way as the medical staff, a real therapy for patients. To remake very quickly. These exchanges were as valuable for patients as for us.
How is your tour de France project evolving on rehabilitation centers?
Our project is getting a little bigger each day. We have testimonys of solidarity everywhere in France that are warm to the heart, requests to visit people who have just experienced a drama, solicitations from schools. It’s a huge organization, we are fortunate to already have some famous partners who support our adventure. But to this day we are still looking for financial support so that this project is born. This dream will soon become reality, and we will soon be in different rehabilitation centers throughout France to bring sun and hope to those who need it.
And the saddlery Gaston Mercier in all that?
At first, we listed with Aurélie all the material needed for his project. Aurélie then gave us the measurements of her horses and we made available a temporary pack of saddles and equipment to be familiar with our products.
Currently we are working on the choice of colors and leathers and the manufacture of different specific products. In a second time we will move to Aurélie to take very precise measurements of his horses to begin the manufacture of stool Aurélie and his dad.
Equipment planned for the Tour de France on horseback Handidream
SELLES – Aurélie will be equipped with a Margeride horn saddle last generation and her Dad still hesitates between a Margeride and a Compiègne
HORSE – Straps comfort line – Chabraques – Simple bridles with adapted reins
CAVALIER – Stirrups or fenders – Closed stirrups with shells
LUGGAGE- Charvins – Fontes – Drawings – Saddlebags