Press review “Practical Horse” – 1 Name 1 History

Press review “Practical Horse” – 1 Name 1 History

These marks punctuate our lives as riders for decades.
But do we really know who is behind these illustrious brands, who created them, what was their development?

Let’s go to meet these famous names


Gaston Mercier, teacher, breeder, equestrian guide, endurance rider of high level, he created, 30 years ago, his saddle brand.

Back on three decades of innovation from father to son.

Gaston Mercier, in 1983, is at the beginning of his career as an endurance rider. He develops a saddle, based on a Mexican model, that refines and alleviates. Precursor, Gaston Mercier uses, for the tree, a mixture of fiberglass and resin. Today, if carbon is also used, it will never use wood. The first examples are made empirically with the help of a dental prosthetic friend.

In 1987, Gaston Mercier is European champion of endurance, and turns to the saddler Bruno Delgrange who, for two years, will realize his first models. As for the trees, it is to a local craftsman specializing in composite materials that Gaston now entrusts the manufacture.

In 1989, he won a second consecutive title of European champion. Become a reference, he hears that his brand capitalizes on his titles.

Around 1991, Gaston entrusted the manufacture of Marathippo to Forestier. Marathippo? This is the name of the discipline that Gaston Mercier has put in place, which is an alternative to the classic endurance race.
From 1994 to 1998 a difficult period began for the company because, on the German market, profusion of copies of the saddle Gaston Mercier, not produced by Forestier, are sold.



In 1997, the Aveyron saddler replicated by creating, on the basis of his tree, several models to which he gives names. The following year appears the entity Gaston Mercier Development, with in it new people to the production.

Then comes the Dune, which receives in 2004 a trophy of innovation at the Paris Horse Show

The entry into the century coincides with the release of Sauveterre, which will know, the following year, an evolution through the Séverac, a more sporty model designed with the collaboration of Olivier Gradwohl, world champion Trec.
Then comes the Dune, which receives in 2004 a trophy of innovation at the Salon du Cheval de Paris. “This saddle has the uniqueness of having stirrup leathers integrated into the quarters, allowing to better fix the leg of the rider. This endurance model is developed with Sheikh Sultan Sin Zayed al-Nahyan in Abu Dhabi, “Passionate about innovation” and promoter of a horse-friendly endurance.

At the same time, Gaston Mercier puts color in its manufacture, he wants his saddles are seen! Today, the palette is rich in fifteen colors, allowing fifty combinations, which adds to the unique character of each piece.

During the years 2005-2007 appear two models: the Aubrac, with the spirit more western, and the Compiègne, a saddle “neither too dressage, nor too endurance, allowing to put on relatively short” in the same spirit will come more late the D13.

A major turning point comes in 2008, when the workshop and offices leave Sévérac-le-Château to integrate the family property in Saint-Léons (12). Gaston Mercier took the opportunity to pass the witness to his son Manuel, with him for eight years. The Mas de Vinaigre, which was originally an equestrian center, is home to infrastructure (quarry, round lanyard, gallop track, etc.) where guests can come with their horse to try in situ saddle and accessories.



The workshop, where five people perform a dozen saddles a week, occupies a former stable, and above, is the showroom. The bridles, shaped girths, bags and luggage are made in a workshop in Mazamet (81) that the company bought that year, and where three people expert in leather goods are employed.

The leather used in Gaston Mercier manufacture comes 80% from the tannery Arnal, located near Rodez (12), itself almost exclusively supplied with skins of cattle raised in Aveyron. The socks are subcontracted to a knitter from Tarn.

the company obtains the label Living Heritage Company

In 2013, the company obtains the Entreprise du patrimoine vivant  label (EPV). “The recognition of a know-how and a 100% French manufacturing, emphasizes Manuel.As for that” Made in Aveyron “is more anecdotal month it’s nice to have it because it regionalizes our work. ”

Since 2014, the manufacturing incorporates models in mind more related to training with adaptations allowing more fixity of the lower legs, seat recess. “All our saddles, by nature, corresponded in terms of balance, position of the rider, the prerequisites of this riding.The longest was to change the labels (the image associated with endurance and outdoor riding) , note). ”

Today, the Gaston Mercier offer is twelve saddle models and some forty references. “8O% of the production is sold in France, the rest for export, which we did not seek to really develop, this is done by word of mouth. “Side shows, Gaston Mercier exposes each year in Paris, Lyon and Avignon. “We are also at Equirando, and some big events like the European and World Championships.”



  • Création : 1987
  • Workforce : 13 collaborateurs
  • Production : 500 selles par an

Featured models : Compiègne, Margeride, D13, Florac

  • Creation: 1987
  • Workforce: 13 employees
  • Production: 500 saddles a year
  • Featured models: Compiègne, Margeride, D13, Florac
  • Main export market: United Arab Emirates


Press review “Practical Horse” – 1 Name 1 History

Christophe Hercy – Cheval Pratique