Jane Richard kicked off her competitive career with a 1998 victory at the Swiss Final Trophy.
Ever since, she has consistently remained among the top 10 riders in her category. In 2011, she took some time off after giving birth to her first son. And her baby boy is Belgian through and through, as his father is none other than rider and horse dealer Ignace Philips.
A native of Evilard, Switzerland, Jane spent her childhood speaking French and German. « I learned English, and now that I live in Italy, I speak Italian, too. And thanks to my husband, I even understand Dutch... »
Together with Ignace Philips, Jane manages the stable La Madonnina in Vinovo, where the couple houses some fifty horses. “We have separate trot and gallop courses, two manèges, a large grass course… My husband’s family – who are horse breeders from Ninove – and also my sister Caroline all give us a big hand. The family runs a nearby horse farm, the Allevamento Guldenboom.
Growing up, none of Jane’s family rode horses. « My father is a surgeon and my mother is a painter. Mom’s family, the Davidoffs, are famous for their cigars. I’ve always been inspired by horses. When I was 13 my parents gave me a 12-year-old horse named Flamenco and I began taking riding lessons. But even though I started competing right away, riding was still just a hobby. I also played tennis competitively, as well as skiing and snowboarding. So I kept an open mind when it came to sports, all while continuing to ride horses. After I graduated high school, I studied Sports and Economics at the University of Berne. Then I bought more horses, but my parents kept Flamenco until he passed away at the age of 30. »
With an open outlook on life and the world, Jane Richard applies the same spirit to equestrianism and competitive riding.
« On the professional and amateur levels alike, what counts the most for me is friendship and complicity with the horse, no matter how competitive the event. Whatever level you are competing on, you can only achieve your best performance if you are one with your horse. Maintaining a good relationship is the key to everything. Over time these relationships can run very deep. Horses are able to recognize the voice, movement, and reactions of a rider, and vice versa. »
Hard work and morale
For Jane, working hard is crucial, but she knows she needs to stay mindful of how far she can push both herself and her horse. « Despite all the competitions and training, I still take the time to go on leisurely rides with my horses. It’s essential for their morale. Life is about more than just hard work, and the same goes for horses. I make sure to always use a different horse in each competition, even if another horse might perform better than the one I picked. Every horse deserves a fair chance, just as you have to let your most frequently ridden horses rest every once in a while. Careful management is essential to make that happen. At our stables, we have to think about food, the farrier, the veterinarian… I currently ride six competition horses (1.45 m to 1.6 m), but I also work with young foals that we are hoping to bring up soon. I work with the horses for 8 hours a day and I’m on the road from Thursday to Sunday for competitions.
I have to make a lot of sacrifices, but it’s my passion. I have a responsibility to my horses, I have to make sure they enjoy the competitions as much as I do. I hardly ever spend a day without a horse by my side. But I like all types of animals: dogs, cats, my son has bunnies, and we have hens and roosters. Every animal has its own character. But the reason I love horses so much is because they are elegant and intelligent. »
Sustaining the passion
Elegance plays an important role in Jane Richard’s daily life. « As an ambassador of Longines, I share a passion for elegance with the luxury brand that sponsors me. My mother is also an extremely elegant person.
As a rider, I’m always grateful to my horses and the watchmaking brand Longines. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do and compete at such a high level. I’m a very ambitious person, but I would be nothing without their help... »www.janerichard.com