It’s no surprise that François has a knack for spotting for talent: He has over 30 years of experience in pleasure and combined driving, and is an EC certified Combined Driving Judge, Technical Delegate and Level 1 Driving Coach. François’ trained eye had noticed Jacob while judging previous competitions in the United States, but it was at the Metamora CDE that he made up his mind to bring the chestnut gelding into his barn.

A Second-Chance Pony Turns Into a First-Rate Partner for François Bergeron

After years of seeing Jacob at combined driving events across the United States, François Bergeron decided he needed to bring the rescue pony home to Ormstown, QC.
Photo Credit: Abbie Trexler

Jacob’s owner at the time had rescued him from unfortunate circumstances and was taking care of his poor shape, both physical and mental. Jacob was scared of men and could be difficult to keep quiet on the line. Nevertheless, François jumped when he received the chance to bring him home several months after the Metamora CDE.

Developing a relationship with Jacob took time. Having grown up on a farm and with a lifetime of knowledge under his belt, François knew that slow and steady wins the race. He commented, “To have success with a rescued pony, you have to take your time. If you want to go fast, go slow.”

François spent the first year limiting his interactions with Jacob to petting, grooming and ground work. As Jacob’s confidence grew, so did the potential François saw in his new charge and in no time at all they began their competitive career together. François pulled from his background as a judge and coach to work with Jacob on specific dressage movements and improve his understanding of driving techniques to make sure he was ready for the three-day trial of a CDE.

The hard work paid off in spades and Jacob blossomed into a top driving pony. In 2019, the pair won the title of Overall Preliminary Champion at the American Driving Society North American Championships, held right where it all began: at the Metamora CDE.

“He became marvelous,” commented François of Jacob, who is now 13 years old. “My goal is to continue with him in the Intermediate level and go as far as we can go.”

François also hopes of partnering Jacob with a homebred Canadian Sport Horse/Welsh Pony-cross with strikingly similar markings. He dreams of driving the two in pairs competition and continuing to build momentum in the Canadian driving community.

A Second-Chance Pony Turns Into a First-Rate Partner for François Bergeron

François and Jacob’s plans for the future include Intermediate level competition, as well as pairs driving.
Photo Credit: Abbie Trexler

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