A discovery of Normandy would be incomplete without a mention of this region's passion for horses.
Discover the Normandy countryside from on high, perched in the saddle of your trusty steed. Hire a horse for the day to trot along bridleways, meander through parks and forests or simply take a lesson.
There are stud farms and equestrian centres throughout Normandy and many of them cater to families and English speaking visitors, for you to organise horse-riding to suit whatever plans you have...whether it's for just a few hours gentle hacking in the forest in Eure, or crossing the Mont St Michel bay on horseback for a once in a lifetime experience, a few days touring along coastal paths and beaches of Cotentin or through the verdant slopes of the Suisse-Normande.
Normandy is home to two French National Studs, Le Haras du Pin built by Louis XIV in 1714, thus known as the “Versailles for horses” with 2,500 acre estate.
The Orne department is known as horse country thanks to its many equestrian centres, stables and stud farms, not least the national stud farm Le Haras du Pin. Considered the equestrian Versailles, this magnificent 18th-century stud farm and stables was approved by Louis XIV as a royal stud farm in order to strengthen bloodlines through controlled breeding. This is still the Haras du Pin’s main practice today. A true temple to the horse, visitors can learn about everything from breeding, to care and training at the Le Pin visitors’ centre. Take a guided tour to view the grounds, see where the saddles and fancy bridles are kept and meet the regal stallions themselves.
Haras du Pin
61310 Le Pin au Haras
Tel.: 02 33 36 68 68
Le Haras de Saint Lo, built in 1806, is dedicated to the breeding of Selle Francais (the French warmblood), the Norman Cob and Percheron. They provide services such as
the identification of horse family members, siring, semen dissemination, training, research and knowledge dissemination.
Avenue du Marechal Juin
50009 Saint Lo
Tel. : 02 33 77 88 66
Website (in French)
Information on the nine stages of the National Stud Route from the Haras du Pin to the Saint-Lô National Stud plus vets and farriers together with accommodation welcoming horse riders on the way here
Facts and figures about Normandy, one of Europe’s leading equestrian regions:
• 4,400 companies
• France’s leading horse-breeding region: 8,300 horse breeders with 10,000 births a year
• 40% of the French racehorses bred
• 20% of the sports horses and 60% of the winning horses bred
• Nearly 1,000 stallions siring half the thoroughbred, French trotter and French saddle horses in France
• 238,000 hectares of pastures devoted to the equine industry
• 300 horse-riding centres
• 31 hippodromes
• €620 million in sales
• Two national stud farms and around 24 private stud farms
• The Institute of Horse Pathology, the only one of its kind in the world
• The Franck Duncombe Laboratory devoted to equine biology, number two in Europe
• Deauville Airport, which specialises in transporting horses.
24th August - 7th September 2014
The centre of Caen, the Basse-Normandie region’s capital, will turn into a huge “equestrian stadium” where seven of the eight disciplines on the programme will take place.
The endurance ride will take place between theHaras du Pin and the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel. Two demonstration events, horseball in Saint-Lô and polo in Deauville, will round out the variety of the spectacle offered. The exceptional 100 mile ride from the Haras du Pin, to the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel, will enable competitors and visitors from around the world to discover Normandy’s countryside, forests, hedgerows and old Roman roads.
The World Games aim to combine sporting excellence with popularising the event in the town centre, celebrating the horse and equestrian sports, promoting the know-how of France’s and Normandy’s equine industry and making the event part of an economic and tourist development strategy.