Livio favours the patient approach

Maxime Livio, a French former junior and young rider team member, shone on cross-country day for the home side. This time last year, though, the 27-year-old wouldn’t have dared to dream that he would be competing Qalao Des Mers in Normandy — as his horse was too hot to trot

Livio favours the patient approach
© PSV Photos

Are you pleased with Saturday’s result?

I accomplished what I set out to do. I’m thrilled. Qalao Des Mers is only 10 and this was his first four-star. He’s an astonishing horse and although he’s a little ‘horizontal’ when he gallops he’s got a lot of character. Cédric [Lyard] and Pascal [Leroy] advised me to slow down during one or two parts of the course to let him take a breather. I tried, but the more I tried the faster he went.

How do you deal with your horse’s exuberance?

His strength is his weakness. He gives too much and puts too much into the jumping. At times I had to keep him from jumping too high and too far. I was fighting to keep him in check but he’s like that all the time. With more experience he’ll calm down.

What was your in your mind before you went into the startbox?

When I saw Rodolphe [Scherer] cross the finish line with his arm in the air I understood that it was possible. Even though Rodolphe was competing as an individual his performance gave me a boost.

Where did Qalao Des Mers come from?

He was being ridden by a friend but they were having dressage problems with him. However, I had watched him jump and go across country and had always believed him to be more than a four-star horse. But while he had great paces on the flat he was really hot and sensitive. However, I took him on two years ago and tried to find the key to unlocking his ability.

…So what did you do?

I took him to a lot of competitions, up and down in difficulty levels, one every two weeks or so, and so he began to relax and actually do quite well on the flat. When we won the Saumur CCI*** earlier in the season we led from the word go.

Had you always intended to bring him to the WEG?

No, my intended ride was Cathar De Gamel [second at the Pau CCI**** last year] but just before the first competition of this season he developed foot problems so I decided not to risk him. I only took Qalao to Saumur as I wanted a qualification for next year, but he won by eight penalties. Then he finished seventh at the Aachen CICO*** and Thierry Touzaint picked him for the WEG.

Do you come from a horsey family?

Not at all but I began riding at the age of four and started competing at around 11. I trained with the former grand prix dressage rider Tristan Chambry for many years and now I’m an instructor myself. I grew up in Dijon but I’m based near Saumur where I have run my own yard for the last three years.

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