Karim Laghouag is a French eventing rider known and recognized for his remarkable performances in this demanding discipline and we are very proud that he is part of our NACA planet.
In perpetual search for new objectives, he has been able to demonstrate for almost twenty years in the French team, his ability to surpass himself in each event. Having discovered horse riding at the age of eight, holding an instructorship, he was trained by his uncle Pierre Defrance for more than 15 years. His track record has demonstrated extraordinary consistency in the championship since 2006. He is notably world number one in 2007, Olympic team champion in eventing in 2016 and bronze medalist at the last Tokyo games.
Recently, he won the CCI4*-S of Pouget 2022 with Embrun de Reno, the CCI3*-S of Montelibretti 2023 with Triton Fontaine. He is second in the famous Etoiles de Pau 2022 CCI5*-L and second in the CCI4*-S de Lignières 2022 with Triton Fontaine.
Karim Laghouag has developed a close relationship with his horses and is recognized for his ability to help them reach their full potential. He is also very close to his audience and likes to share his knowledge and expertise, thus contributing to the development of the eventing discipline.
At the dawn of the European Eventing Championships which will take place at Haras du Pin from August 9 to 13, 2023, he kindly took part in the question and answer game, for us and for YOU!
© Kenza Attouche
INTERVIEW WITH KARIM LAGHOUAG
- What is your best memory in the world of horse riding?
KL: “Undeniably the Olympics. We always dream of a medal, and what’s more, it’s one of the most desired.” For the rider, the Olympics are not just a competition, it is also a story of family, emotions, and sharing.
- The horse that impressed you the most?
KL: “Difficult to make a choice, it’s like choosing between your father and your mother.” Karim passionately loves his horses. He was able to reveal to us that the one he found even more incredible than all the others, at the end of his career at the age of 20, was Punch de l'Esques. Born in 2003, the young chestnut made his debut with Karim when he was 4 years old. He is nicknamed the “magic pony”.
KL: “I was able to support him from his beginnings until his retirement. At 20, in the prime of life, I found him even more beautiful and more efficient.” For him, he is a very nice horse, but also mischievous. “I could say that he is an exclusive horse”, apparently very intelligent but which cannot be ridden easily by everyone. Karim told us that he “had experienced many very special moments with this horse”, it allowed him to “question himself” about his behavior towards him so that he was always comfortable. Punch de l'Esques was considered a "small" horse, but his complicity with KL and his performances helped make him "big".
- What are the best qualities to have in horse riding?
KL: “Empathy” is the key word of the French rider. “Horse riding is a sport where you have to constantly question yourself.” You have to love the horse above all to be in agreement with him. Concerning athletic qualities, for the Olympic champion, it is necessary to work on his balance and especially his adaptability because each of the horses “have their own temperament”. For Karim, you have to manage to adapt as much as possible to each horse to be as flexible as possible.
© Melissa Mula
- How is your daily life organized at the stables?
KL: Karim Laghouag's daily life begins with a physical warm-up, often he starts with the "easiest" horses to also wake up, then towards the most "difficult". He rides between 4 and 6 horses which are sometimes ridden several times a day. 3 times a week, he also follows a program he calls “the training block” to stay in shape, then does mountain biking, tennis, etc. And the other part of his time is managing the stables, partners, etc...
His stable is very well equipped: there is a dressage rectangle, an obstacle course, a cross country on which he trains a few weeks before some of his deadlines.
He is trained by Jean Luc FORCE, Delphine BERTRANEU (2x/week for dressage), and Patrick CARON (1x/week for obstacle).
Well-being and especially prevention and care of the horse are very, very important to Karim. His stable is an expert in care (and he cares deeply about it. He has surrounded himself with a great team who manage and know his horses inside out and in whom he has complete confidence). Everything is organized around the competition schedule: training, treatments, rest periods. He wants to prevent work, he checks every day the flexibility of his horses, their stiffness. He wants all his horses to be in perfect physical and moral shape. “If you touch the horse's back, it should not feel any pain because they are very sensitive animals.” His plan is to further develop this care system and perfect it.
His physical coach, Guy Bessat, wrote a book about riders “Rider, this athlete who ignores himself so much”. “The rider takes care of his horse, trains him, but does not do the same for him.”
- Do you have a ritual before entering the track or going cross country?
KL: “work on my breathing and relaxation”. It uses the 1-4 technique, inhaling while inflating the stomach in one count and exhaling through the mouth in 4 counts for 1 minute. It helps avoid bad stress.
- What is your goal before entering the track?
KL: “You have to be conscious in the preparation, be carried by the event, control and at the same time let go to enjoy. You have to have confidence and have strong emotions, have confidence in your training and tell yourself that you can do it and that you can do even more each time, beyond your emotions."
- What advice would you give to a young person starting out in eventing?
KL: Its motto “Believe that love of the horse and care are decisive for success in this sport”. For Karim, we must not skip steps by going too quickly. The work must be done gradually, gently and with sharing. Building a relationship with your horse is essential. Ex: rebalancing after a jump, suddenly, the horse will understand but its confidence will be lost. Conversely, gradually reducing the number of strides to rebalance behind a jump, taking 7 strides, then 6, etc., will allow for better confidence and progress between the rider and his horse. Being close to your horse is very important, it's even more beautiful and even more efficient. Being kind to the horse would be the number 1 motto
© Eric Knoll
- What do you think of NACA helmets?
KL: “It’s a high-end, luxury helmet, which meets all safety standards to protect properly. Its aesthetic side is very appreciable, it has the advantage of being modular (you can change the visors), the colors, and above all it is very comfortable, very light and very ventilated. Compared to the XP chinstrap, he finds it a real advantage to have a wider field of vision and very good support, but you have to get used to it and he prefers the Gravity S model where he feels most comfortable. comfortable. “I really like this helmet, the fact that I can personalize it and that it is produced with new technologies, in France, I enjoy wearing it.”
He also called on a renowned designer DUC DESIGN to make him a unique helmet that he wears on the most beautiful occasions.
If you haven't seen this gem yet, watch HERE
- Your current goals, the Olympics?
KL: “Of course. Triton is preselected for the 2024 Olympics but all is not won.”
9 riders are part of the "long list" of preselected riders. The final selection will surely be made during the next European Championships, at Haras du Pin, from August 9 to 15, 2023.
© Eric Knoll
- Your goals for a high-level professional?
Enjoy the daily life of a sport combined with horse riding. “We move forward step by step, together.”
"Do everything possible to have no regrets" without being fatalistic, have fun, have positive pressure, prepare yourself, work on your balance, share a relationship with the horse, it's an animal that is strong and sensitive.
© Melissa Mula
A big thank you to Karim Laghouag for his availability and enthusiasm. We are more than proud to have him in our #TEAMNACA because beyond his sporting performances, we share his values around horses and sport.
To find out more about this exceptional rider, do not hesitate to follow him on his Instagram account HERE or visit his website www.karimlaghouag.com
Photos all rights reserved (copying, downloading and use prohibited)
© Eric Knoll who created beautiful images for our European distributor EKKIA
© Melissa Mula
© Kenza Attouche