Twist de la Butte is a 10-year-old chestnut Selle Français gelding by Muriesco du Cotentin (a bay Selle Français stallion by Dollar du Murier — the Rolls Royce of Selle Français) and Khiva de la Butte (by Flipper d’Elle). Twist is a very tall horse: he measures 1.73m but the way he holds his head makes him look even taller! When he was going through weaning at 6 month old Kevin Gauthier’s parents bought Twist from a friend, Emmanuel Pinson, who has a breeding farm and at the time two producing mares. Actually Kevin’s parents bought two foals that year: Twist and his half-brother Titan de la Butte. They grew up together in the stables’ fields with a donkey called Ninon whom Twist got his strong character from! When Kevin was 15 his parents gave him to choose one of the foals between Twist and Titan as a birthday present. Kevin has a soft spot for Twist whose talent impressed him as well as his communicative nature.
Twist’s breaking-in started when he was 3 years old. His strong built and his energy require that he works out a lot — at least twice or three times a day — he always starts with a lunge in walk and in trot before being ridden. At home Twist only jumps small heights, not more than 1m. He started competing with Kevin when he was 5.
This month Tacante met two show jumping rising stars at Happy Jump CSI3* at the Haras du Loup in Canteleu: Kevin Gauthier and his champion Twist de la Butte.
Where does your name come from?
La Butte is the name of the hamlet where I was born in Saint-Samson-de-Bonfossé close to Saint Lô in Normandy. As for Twist, Kevin says that it was quite prophetic as I remind him of the song Twist & Shout which the Beatles sang!
Where do you live? Can you describe your stables?
I live in the Haras de Bazemont in the Yvelines. I am still in the box I was in when I was a kid which I have badly damaged as I am a wrecker! There I have a ball and my childhood dish to play with! I have kept my childlike innocence!
How do you get on with your stable mates?
I like my stable mates a lot. I like sniffing them and I often look for a fight! I am the king of the stables, they have to be shown who’s the boss!
What do you like most about your rider?
Kevin lets me get away with murder sometimes. I have to admit I can throw tantrums and the better I am in competitions the more Kevin satisfies my every whim! Since I found his weak spot I tend to take advantage of it! How could I be blamed?
What are your best attributes?
I am a jumping champion! I am said to have an outstanding talent and I am also very strong. As I love jumping and I give myself fully, I am highly motivated when I compete.
What is your worst flaw?
I give myself fully when I compete but at home I am lazy. Actually I decide where we are working with Kevin. If I don’t want to step into the arena, well we don’t work there!
I am going to tell you one of my mischief which still makes me laugh a lot. Kevin doesn’t find it that funny. Don’t ask me why. We were out riding in the woods when I suddenly had this urge to drop my rider off. I galloped back home jumping all the fences! And Kevin had to walk back. I had such a great time. What’s important is that I got back home isn’t it?
What is your guilty pleasure? Do you sometimes act like a diva? Do you have passing fancies?
Like a lot of horses my guilty pleasure is food! I don’t really have passing fancies but small obsessions especially in competitions. I get a little nervous and even more so when I have to stay in a small box. I can’t stand having no space to move around.
Which dream would you like to come true in your life?
To win the French Championships and taking part in the 2020 Olympic Games since you’re asking!
What is your favourite activity?
Certainly not flatwork! I mostly enjoy playing and fighting with my ball! I told you I can be a bit of a wrecker and I have always loved to play ever since I was a child. My other favourite game is to run around the field with my bowl in my mouth! Maybe I should take up base-ball…!
What makes you feel the happiest?
After a competition when I am satisfied with my work and I have achieved something I can enjoy the day. Jumping is also one of my favourite hobbies. I always see through to the end of everything I start, whether I am competing, jumping or up to some mischief!/div>
What do you dislike most in the world?
I really don’t like being touched or brushed when I wake up. It is the time of the day I find the most difficult. I am very sensitive in the morning. Another thing, I don’t like working in the arena, I find it annoying and it gets on my nerves!
What has been your best memory?
To have come 2nd with the French team in my first Nations Cup in Uggerhalne, Denmark. That was magical!
Which frame of mind are you in at the moment?
Totally focused on the Grand Prix! Quite simply!
Do you have a life motto you would like to share with us?
Laid back at home and at full speed in competitions!