Young eventer hopes to carry her youth experience into senior competitions...
Thaïs Méheust has dreamed about representing her country on the world stage for as long as she can remember, and when she talks about it, she might just send a chill up your spine.
The 20-year-old French eventer has a busy year lined up, with hopes of taking part in FEI European Jumping Championships for Young Riders, Juniors and Children in Fontainbleu in July, and perhaps even a move up into equestrian’s most prestigious events .
“It would be a dream come true to compete at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ or the Olympic Games,” said Thaïs, who hails from Normandy. “When I just think about it, I feel this thrill throughout my body.”
"I have to be
ready for the
Fontainbleu and beyond
Méheust has already carried her flag successfully in one of the most demanding of the equestrian disciplines, competing in seven FEI European Eventing Championships over Pony, Junior, and Young Rider categories and earning four team medals, including gold at the FEI European Championships for Young Riders in 2016.
In her final year of eligibility in the Young Rider division, she is aiming for one last appearance at the Europeans, which this year will take place in her home nation in Fontainbleu, before setting her sights on the three-star level and the Under 25 Eventing Championships at Bramham in the UK.
“I was really lucky to be part of high level sport with ponies very early, as I was 13 for my first European Championships,” Thaïs said. “I immediately knew what it was like to be part of a team, to represent my country, and to have a lot of pressure on me.”
Méheust, who is based at her family’s Ecurie de Cerisier Blue stables in the small village of Cailly-sur-Eure, trains a string of four to five horses while also attending law school at the University of Rouen.
Her parents, while not riders themselves, are big supporters of the sport, sponsoring a team in the nation’s “The Grand National,” a five-competition team series in which two seniors compete alongside a young rider or junior rider.
Thaïs was drawn to Eventing at a young age, watching her older siblings compete.
“It’s just amazing to feel the connection you have with your horses when you are on cross-country, because it is not just about technique, but it’s also about being brave together and always pushing each other to go further,” she said.
“To me, Eventing horses are the best ones, because they can do everything: They must be good in Dressage, with good paces and calmness, and then they must become a lion and be tough on the cross-country, before finishing with agility and precision in Jumping.”
She became the French Champion in Juniors in 2017 and stepped her top mount, the 14-year-old Selle Francais gelding Quamilha, up to the three-star level last fall, finishing fifth in the CIC 3* at Le Pouget, in November.
Poised, driven, and genuine, Méheust doesn’t take her accomplishments for granted, and she remains focused on the steps needed to achieve her goals.
“I have to be ready for the next transition, from young rider to young senior, and participate at the three-star level (and one day four-star) as well as the Pro Elite in France, which is the highest national level,” she explained. “I know it is what I want, so it will take the time it will take, and one day I hope I will be performing at the highest level!”
She seems to be in the right place. France is the reigning team gold medalist from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and will be one of the favorites for the upcoming FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon, North Carolina in September after finishing 2017 third in the FEI Nations Cup Eventing standings.
Thaïs targets 2024
The country’s top-ranked rider, Maxime Livio, is 30 years old and competed at the 2014 WEG in Normandy at the ripe age of 27, speaking to the abundance of young talent coming up the pipeline in the sport. Not to mention, the 2024 Olympics will be held in Paris.
“I’m aiming for the 2024 Olympics in Paris, but If I’m not ready or selected, I will never stop dreaming of the Olympics, and I will aim for the next one as long as possible,” Thaïs tells us. “The real goal is not only to compete, but to also win a medal.
“I hope one day I will be good enough to compete at this level and to share this amazing experience with my family and all the people who helped me or trained me to fulfill my dream. It would be our success.”
Follow the Eventing season, July's FEI European Jumping Championships for Young Riders, Juniors and Children and all the build-up to September's World Equestrian Games on FEI TV