By Hugo Deshors
“Going to school being driven by horses, I would really like it!” ” The little Manon, 9 years old, is educated in the Pays de Rugles (Eure) and the idea of the hippobus, she adheres completely. “I love animals but especially horses, that would be great”.
“Such a bond with the children”
Even if the project is not on the table in the south of Eure, the school transport solution using horse-drawn shuttles could be an alternative to the shortage of coach drivers. A shortage that affects Normandy.
Unachievable? However, in the Pays de Rugles, the initiative was launched 9 years ago, during the start of the school year in September 2013 precisely. At the wand, the City of Chaise-Dieu-du-Theil, the Community of communes of the canton of Rugles (disappeared in favor of the Interco Normandie Sud Eure) and Claude Segaud, breeder of Percheron horses.
“A memorable adventure, remembers this former coach driver. If I’m asked to do it again, I’ll go there without hesitation. There was such a bond with the children.
After 38 years spent as an industrial technician in Brittany, Claude Segaud decided to create his animal traction company, Les Calèches de Chaise-Dieu, in 2013. A retraining that led him to become a coachman and service provider. service for the Com’com rugloise.
At the time, Claude Segaud, accompanied at the time by Bijou, Unik and Vertigo, three magnificent Percheron horses, transported the 24 schoolchildren aged 9 and 10 (CE2-CM1) only at lunchtime from the school of Chaise-Dieu * in the village hall for the meal.
It was a two kilometer round trip. The children loved it, they were over the moon. I remember they gave bread, apples and carrots to the animals after they had finished their meal. Well, we had to establish rules… “.
And his horses have never been late or missed a day.
Before becoming a service provider himself, Claude Segaud had trained for six months at the Haras du Pin and then two months in Trouville-sur-Mer, in Calvados, a pioneering town in the field of utility horses in an urban environment.
No more than 3 kilometers
The question is simple: could we imagine such a system being deployed more widely in the Pays de Rugles and Breteuil, for example? “To be able to do it in the morning, at noon and in the evening? Asks Claude Segaud. It is not impossible but there are parameters to take into account”.
In the countryside, it is not easy since some roads are difficult to access. In town or in a suburban area, it’s already easier. And then there is also the matter of distance.
According to him, “it takes a trip that does not exceed about three kilometers. It is important not to put the horses on their knees and transport the children for 1 hour 30 minutes, it is far too much”. In other words, yes but… under certain conditions.
Another important data according to him, “the need to call on service providers rather than entrusting this to municipal agents. The organization is too restrictive if it is managed by the municipality from A to Z”. In addition to sensitivity to the environment and sustainable development, another condition sine qua non, “the political will. There must be a desire on the part of elected officials to favor this sustainable transport. At the time, with the mayor Dominique René, the agreement was perfect”.
The horse regains urban functions
Christian Malon, former teacher of an agricultural high school in Calvados and author of Two feet four sabots, had stressed that the Percheron horse is a peaceful animal which finds its place in urban functions, functions that generate employment. Tourist walks but also the collection of glass and cardboard are in fact, more and more, no longer with a motor vehicle, but with horses.
The hippobus adventure lasted three years, the duration of the contract finally. “This operation was not renewed for several reasons. Among which, the transfer of the school”.
However, at the time, Claude Segaud did not hide the fact that he received many calls from communities and future service providers, eager to know the secrets of this mode of transport.
At our neighbors in Bosc-du-Theil, next to Neubourg, schoolchildren also had the right to swap the car for a horse-drawn carriage for a few days last year. Elsewhere, in other departments, this type of school transport is also popular.
If the implementation of the hippobus – its economic feasibility and its logistics – is the problem for adults, there is no doubt that the children want it wholeheartedly.
* Educational grouping with Bois-Arnault and Chéronvilliers.
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