My mother’s family has a long history of involvement with horses, (my grand father Alfred Lefevre was a horse dealer born in Mayenne and based in the Calvados. This is how I was introduced to the different disciplines of the complex equine world which can sometimes be rather closed in upon itself. Despite having some horse allergies I became passionate about trotting at about the age of fourteen. I took part in training and in amateur races in Normandy and at Grosbois while working for the AXA Group and then for an international insurance agent. I decided to create Le Centaure in 1993, building upon my own experience and my grand father’s reputation which even though he had passed away three year earlier was still very strong in the business. The company grew gradually based on the principles that what matters most is the competence and honesty of those who look after horses. I realized my dream of returning to Normandy in 2003 when the office was moved to a farm in the Pays d’Auge. In 2011 I decided to sell the company to Markel as I felt that they not only supported our ethos but would enable us to realise the growth we have experienced since.
After studying with a view to working in management I started my career some twenty years ago in an ordinary insurance company. Initially I specialized in personal insurance but in 1997 I was offered a position in the very young equine insurance company Le Centaure, which is of course Markel Equine today. Despite my very limited knowledge of the horse world at the time - I just about knew the names of Yves Saint Martin and Ourasi -I jumped at the chance to take part in this world which appeared to be both attractive and out of the ordinary. Over the years my horse culture and experience has expanded considerably as I have discovered the horses, the people and the different disciplines and business which make up the equine world. Aside from the technical aspects of risk management it is a whole new world to explore, and one where you never stop learning and are never bored.
As a child the greatest pleasures in my life were hunting in Brittany and going racing at the weekend, mainly at Ploermel where I first came across this fascinating world. I remember following training from a car and then my first canters, my first jumps and falls, and then the first victories of my trainer friends. My brothers and I decided to visit all of the racecourses in France, and if we are not yet there we have so far been to 114 of the 236. After studying business I worked at France Galop and then a couple of different trainers before arriving at Markel. I believe insurance is a vital part of the equine world allowing everyone to preserve their investments and, when claims are made, giving them the opportunity to reinvest as a consolation. When a horse we insure wins I fell that we are a small part of the team and it feels as if we have achieved something. Strangely I am not the first from my family to work in this way as it turns out that my great grandfather used to insure horses for the French army!
My contact with horses goes back to my childhood when my father used to take me to Vincennes to watch trotting. My two daughters both rode from the age of three and one of them continued and went to train to be a work rider at the AFASEC school in Gouvieux. From the age of seventeen she was working at the Deauville training centre before going abroad to work in Dubai and Newmarket. Today she is twenty six and still works in the business. I trained to be a general insurer and worked in this branch from 1987 to 2003 when I joined Markel to dedicate myself to mortality insurance for racehorses, sport horses and breeding. This is an unusual and fascinating sector and insuring a horse is always an interesting and rewarding task.
I have always been surrounded by horses as my family bred sport horses and ponies. As a child I was a member of the French show jumping team, and went on to compete as a junior, young rider and finally in Category 2. I worked as a groom for international riders for six years and then spent a further seven years working for Dr Christopher Stockwell. My years of experience of working with riders and vets are a great help to me today in my work for Markel and allow me to manage my speciality which is veterinary fees. More recently I started to be interested in the racing world and I have taken over the family stud farm in order to breed thoroughbreds and prepare them for auctions on behalf of clients. I am lucky enough to be able to combine this passion with my work at Markel.
My first contact with horses came as a child when an expert recommended to my parents that I should take up riding horses to gain confidence in myself and my body. And I have never left them! Despite studying science and marketing I have always stayed with horses. Among other things I spent ten years working in the racing world at Arqana and since then seven years working for Markel. I was lucky enough to have my first horse when I was fifteen and for a long time I did eventing, show jumping and dressage before becoming interested in Western riding. Today it is pleasure to continue with both disciplines, or three as last year I took on a young retired racehorse with whom I spend some wonderful hours.
I was nearly a doctor but instead studied law and have a degree in administrative law. Horses ? Apart from spending an amazing week when I was twenty riding in Wyoming I knew little about them before starting work at Markel. More recently I have experienced them from a different angle following my eleven year old daughter through a year of competition with ponies which ended at the French Pony Championships at Lamotte-Beuvron in July 2018. I learn every day about horses through my job and I love the detail and competence which is required to assist you.
I lived in Maisons Laffitte when I was a child and horses have always been part of my life. I grew up with them, moving from Shetlands to ponies to thoroughbreds in racing stables. After working abroad looking for new experiences I returned to Normandy and spent eight years working at the Haras du Hoguenet. Breeding is always fascinating and is the beginning of every racing dream. I joined the Markel team in March 2019 and am now responsible for mortality and emergency surgery claims. I know how upset people are when they lose a horse, my role is to build a relation of trust so I can be alongside them at a difficult moment and help them do what is necessary in order to make a successful claim as quickly as possible. A claim is only a poor compensation for losing a horse but we do what we can to help our clients at these moments.
When I was young I spent several seasons working for the PMU (in those days we still worked behind a counter putting holes in tickets). I enjoyed the atmosphere. When I moved to Normandy my husband introduced me to the racing world and I came to know these animals. I have a particular soft spot for greys and roans. I have always found horses magnificent and as I live close to several stables it is a constant pleasure to meet horses and their riders on the paths around us. I love the atmosphere at the big racing occasions, the Arc de Triomphe or the Prix d’Amerique. I was a part owner briefly but sadly the adventure did not last long as we lost our mare. I have worked for Markel for ten years now and I appreciate the trust we build with our clients over the years. I also learn something every day from the experience and passion of my colleagues.
I have always been passionate about horses - both my mother and my uncle are riders - and I started riding myself at six. I always wanted to work with horses and have worked in various stables, mainly show jumping ones, as a groom and as a manager. When I discovered the work of Andy Booth I became interested by the education and behavior of horses, and from there by the Western disciplines which are those closest to my views of the relations between man and horse. I started reining myself and spent three months on a ranch in Canada to learn more about the discipline. Since arriving at Markel I have began to be interested by racing and building on my Canadian experience I would like to specialize in working horses, which includes the breaking and training of horses as well as working with livestock, the speed and the reactions, a wide variety of work on horseback.
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