Haras de Brullemail

 

Animal

 

farm

 

Around 100 horses and a dozen dogs live at Haras de Brullemail – one of France’s leading stud farms which is situated in southern Normandy – also known as the French Bluegrass region. Here, its founder, Bernard Le Courtois is just as known for his beautiful gardens as for his powerful breeds.

 

By Camilla Alfthan Photos Chris King

 

 

Ornella Mail is one famous Selle Francais from Brullemail who has partnered with Patrice Delaveau in breathtaking style. A fast, sporty horse with a lot of  blood and a lot of temper.

 

”She was always like that. Patrice (Delaveau) gets angry when they say she is a complicated mare because it’s just her style and way . Too generous and unpredictable but a horse that can jump a Derby, Grand Prix, puissance or speed class. It just has to be the right day. And especially not during the heat season – April, May, June,” offers Chris King, a Brullemail resident of the human kind.

 

It’s, however, the stallions who are the living images of Bernard Le Courtois’ travails. Over the years, some of the world’s best stallions have passed through his hands – Almé, Laudanum, Hand in Glove, I Love You, Noren, Digne Espoir,  Calvaro Z, Carthago Z and Alligator Fontaine to name just a few, while Le Courtois has also served as president of the French Warmblood organization.

 

Racehorses are traditionally bred in this area which is also known as Normandy’s Kentucky, where horse breeding is usually a family tradition, passed on from generation to generation. At the Haras de Brullemail the situation is slightly different. When Bernard Le Courtois founded the stud 30 years ago, he did so with the help from banks, after having worked in Paris as an editor of the equestrian magazine, l’Eperon, and later as a bloodstock agent. Instead of thouroughbreds, Le Courtois started out with a single Selle Francais brood mare , Parution.

 

Today he has some 100 horses which are primarily bred for show jumping. His biggest chance to launch himself as a stallion manager was when he heard about the sale of the famous SF foundation stallion Almé. A horse who had left France for 10 years, leaving behind some very famous sons like Galoubet A. Leon Melchior at Zangersheide, wanted to sell him as he could no longer breed in Belgium due to a health clause and so, he was negotiating with the French National Stud and some overseas competitors.

The National Stud wouldn’t pay the price and when Le Courtois found out he put together a syndication to bring Frances most famous son back home – a formula known in the racing world however a new experiment amongst the French warmblood breeders. Le Courtois’ bright idea turned out to be the boost he needed to get Brullemail up and running. He’s never looked back since. Almé went on to live several more years ending his days in the green pastures of his native Normandy.

 

The mares are also a story by themselves. Soon after, Le Courtois was contacted at l’Eperon by a breeder, who wanted him to write about why she was taking her horses to the slaughter house as she was tired of the cheap ways of horse dealers “sans scrupules”.

Le Courtois managed to discourage her and suddenly found himself with a handful of top class broodmares all moving to Brullemail, becoming the foundation mares of most of his famous grand prix jumpers today.

 

Looking back, Le Haras de Brullemail is like a big puzzle that has come together, brick by brick . The same goes for the farm, which was a ruin during the first two years when  Le Courtois moved there. Situated near the famous town of le Merlerault where the first royal stud farm was built at the beginning of the XVII century, Brullemail is a small farming community, known for it’s fertile grounds and fresh spring water.

 

During two years, Le Courtois camped out in the house in ruins along side the maternity

Farm with a view

 

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