The story of the Gaston Mercier “Number 1” created on the occasion of the Raid d’Artagnan in 1987
The CHALLENGE according to the Larousse is the difficulty that poses a point of view and that must be overcome.
Gaston, how was born the idea of making saddles?
After the proposal and the irrefutable arguments of Xavier on his project Raid d’Artagnan (which I knew to have scraped with him in my childhood) and on his challenge, I accepted the omen.
We had in a regional area, Raymond Johnson and myself, a reservoir of horses capable of running 160 km. It was therefore necessary to prepare four psychologically to travel alone 60 km at sustained speeds (about 20 km / h). In endurance race the parameters are not the same, the horses are in groups, the shorter stages and the course is marked.
I came that same year to win the European Championship in Germany. I had for the occasion manufactured a prototype of saddle which seemed to me perfectly suited to the discipline (lightness, equilibrium of the rider and the horse, saving energy for the couple). This prototype was a home-made (mine).
Undaunted by the media resonance that the feat Xavier would succeed, he needed a saddle to the extent of the circumstance and he needed it very quickly.
So you made a second saddle?
Not this time … We left with Xavier and my prototype under the arm to try to convince Bruno Delgrange, to manufacture it. Bruno Delgrange remains one of the greatest saddlers, a reference in our profession.
It took us a dinner to decide and convince him to perform a saddle in record time. Bruno accepted the proposed challenge and as he is a man of his word, I understand that for the realization of the Number 1, and to keep the deadlines, he counted neither his hours nor his nights.
And then … Bet held?
Yes … The day the saddle was ready !! Besides, everything was ready, the horses, the saddle, Xavier and all his team …
What were the impressions of the first rider of the first saddle Gaston Mercier?
Xavier, who discovered the new saddle over the km, answered me regularly and laconically to my worries about his sensations … “I tired harmoniously”
The rest of the story … 30 years later, thousands of Gaston Mercier saddles are on the backs of thousands of horses … all over the world!