He traded the glitz and glamour of fashion for meadows and horses, investing his modelling earnings into realising his horse-riding dream. Jean-Sebastien Pougnand’s story is the first in our New Authentics series, highlighting the individuals who choose to live their truth.
Jean's early life was a blend of cultures, growing up between Gabon in Africa and France. His love affair with horses began on his family's farm in Cognac, where he found himself riding every day, and even guiding tours by the age of twelve.
Jean was a self-taught rider. He devoured equestrian books and, with some guidance from someone at the local stable, mastered the art of competition and taming any horse. He claims to speak 'horse' himself.
At the age of twenty, Jean left for London to study, and what was intended to be a year of living in the big city became thirteen years. He was scouted while working in a fashion boutique, which launched him into an exciting modelling career. He met many people, travelled around, and went to a lot of glamorous parties.
It was good, he thought, but it wasn’t his truth. Deep down, he yearned to be significant to someone, to have a purpose and to truly express himself. And so, he bought some fields and a few horses with the last of his modelling money. "I thought, this is it, right? It's now. I'm going to leave everything behind, cut my dreadlocks, and set up my dream..."
His dream was to return to his roots and return to his true passion. Tending to his horses in the morning, hosting riding classes throughout the day, and relaxing by the river in the evening. He now lives his dream, with plans to launch his own horse travel agency, exploring destinations like Romania and Botswana.
"The real version of myself is this one, the horse-riding one," says Jean. "I feel like a Centauri – half man, half horse. I glide. Not on a wave. I glide on the meadow and on the grass. I love doing what I do."
So, how do you tame a horse? According to Jean, the more annoying you are, the more they consider you the leader. He relies on a lot of invisible cues, all very subtle. And it requires a great deal of patience each day. This goes against Jean's nature since he is a very impatient person. Horses, in this way, have taught him a lot.
For Jean, the most beautiful way to ride is bareback. He feels completely free and can gallop fast in full contact with the horse. Preferably into the sunset.