It’s indubitable that Jean Louis Martin has followed his passion and fulfilled his dreams.
The Olympian would go onto develop the riding program in France and equestrian sport in Morocco.
However, he came from humble beginnings.
The horseman was recently in Aiken. And like so many aspiring horsemen, Martin began to ride at a very young age. He was raised on a farm, in a region of France where many of the families in the area bred horses.
Martin matriculated in the Ecole de Formation Aux Professions Equestres when he was 14 1/2, one that was an agricultural school in Haras du Pin, where he increased his knowledge in a number of industry facets, while at the same time improving his riding.
There were a number of objectives that compelled the horseman, but Martin’s family wasn’t able to support his passion, and he entered the military, serving in the French Army’s armored cavalry branch because it enabled him to continue his pursuit of his objectives with a career in the horse industry. Martin served in the military from 1958-1961, and spent much of that time in Algeria.
Martin entered the Ecole de Cavalerie de Saumur in 1961, spending seven years at the legendary French riding school, earning several diplomas and would eventually leave the school after having risen to the position just below that of head instructor. It was during this time that he we was the riding instructor at the Cadre de Noir de Saumur, where his foundation as a horseman enabled him to teach multiple disciplines, dressage, CCE, CSO and race riding.
It was in 1965 that Martin would find himself making another series of adjustments, where he would direct his energies toward achieving his dream of making the French Olympic eventing team, and he would begin the process at the National Equestrian Sport Center in Fontainbleau. He worked with the legendary horseman Jack LeGoff, the French team’s Chef d’Equipe, for four years. Martin would qualify two horses for the 1968 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City.
The two horses had very different demeanors, one of them was easy to ride, was great in the dressage and cross country, but always had faults in stadium jumping. The second of the two horses was named Quel Feau or What a Fire, who was far more difficult, but was the horse that Martin would eventually choose because he was far more serious about his job.
It was Martin’s commitment to equestrian sport, an unwavering spirit and growing reputation that had him recruited by France’s Minister of Agriculture in 1969 to develop and create a National School of Equitation.
France wanted to create a program that would have the institute’s attendees possessing the same knowledge as that of the instructors. Martin was selected as the person best suited for the position. The horseman was honored by his selection, and was thrilled with the opportunity to continue to be involved with equestrian sport after retiring from competition. Martin’s responsibilities included serving in the capacities of riding instructor; technical director; director of riding instruction; trainer of all disciplines where he developed a program for all phases of riding in France.
Martin left the position in 1976 when the school was relocated from Fountainbleau to Saumur.
However, his next position would find him returning to the African continent, where he would spend the next three decades of his life, working for the Princess of Morocco. It was in this capacity, in a spirit of cultural cooperation between France and Morocco that he was attached to the Minister of Youth Sport, and direct his enrgies toward the Royal Federation of Morocco and Equestrian Sport.
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