JL Parisot

 

Jean-Luc ParisotWho is Jean-Luc Parisot? He is a "classic" trained saddle maker and foreman of the saddle shop in the Riding Academy of Saumur.

 

Jean-Luc in a few words: "I like to make saddles that nobody makes or doesn't make anymore. I am convinced that we do not invent anything but just improve existing things. When I am done with a saddle, I am satisfied for two days and after that, I can only see things I could improve. When people ask me what I do for a living, I always answer "apprentice saddle maker" because it is a field where we always learn. I have a passion for saddles from every corner of the world, every era; it is the most satisfying thing that I know of."

 

What would be the best way to define Jean-Luc's philosophy?

 

Jean Luc is somebody who is not totally mysterious, and do not lose himself with too many words. Here is the opportunity to know him a little better.

 

 

Born in 1960 in Fort de L'Eau in Algeria, his family stayed there until the end of the war in 1962. Back in France, he grew up like every other kid his age, but with a true passion for horses.

 

At five he started riding and by age ten he was already a consistent rider. One thing for sure: he will build his life around horses.

 

CadreNoirIn 1976, he had to take a decision for his future. He wanted to enroll in the Riding Academy of Saumur, he had the potential and the relationships to do it, but the atmosphere was not at its best at the time. One of his acquaintances suggested choosing a trade in contact with the horses, like farrier or saddle maker. Jean-Luc didn't really get along with iron work, but leather work, why not !

 

In a matter of a week, his future will be determined. He is introduced to Mr. Pottier, master saddle maker in Saumur, who just happened to be looking for a new apprentice. This is the way Jean-Luc got started.

 

From then on, three key people will count in his life: Mr. Pottier, Mr. Pein and Pedro PEDRINI.

 

In 1978, after graduation, Jean-Luc got in the Riding Academy, this time under the direction of Mr. Pein, master saddle maker in Saumur. Under his wing, he learned the traditional methods of saddle making.

Nevertheless, Jean-Luc felt a little isolated, with very little contacts with other saddle makers. He needed to know what his confrere saddle maker did, and how he could measure his work to theirs.

In 1986, he prepared and entered himself in the Best Craftsman of France Award in the saddle making category, and win the gold medal. This award got him more credible in the army system he was working for, and allowed him to step up to better jobs.

 

In 1988, Mr. Pein retired and Jean-Luc became the new master saddle maker of the Riding Academy.

 

During the same period, Jean-Luc started studying the western saddles and made several of them. Even though those saddles were decent, he couldn't reach the quality of work of the western saddles he saw. He started then to look for somebody in France able to help him improve. Unfortunately, the very few able to help did not show any zeal into it.

The internet as we all knows it today did not exist, and his quest was rather difficult.

By chance he read an article in a magazine, and a new contact provided him with information about a French saddle maker who moved to the USA to learn the trade. His first contacts with Pedro Pedrini were very good: they had a lot in common. For sure one thing: they both were obsessed by the search of quality and perfection.

 

Parisot-PedriniIn 1990, Jean-Luc visited Pedro in California to learn the traditional western saddle making. He came back very pleased, and his work will never look the same after that. But Pedro gave him even more: together they worked in the saddle shop, but Jean-Luc also got introduced to the ranch work and discovered the real cowboy spirit.

 

He says: "Talking about spirit, I am convinced that we have in France some outstanding saddle makers. But there is one thing we have to learn from our fellow craftsman in the USA, and it is to use and harmonize our knowledge without seeing our colleagues like competitors. Every single saddle maker and craftsman I've met in the USA always showed an incredible ease to share their knowledge without fear of the consequences. This is the one thing I would really like to pass on."

 

Jean-Luc really likes the western saddles, and especially the traditional carving used to decorate the leather. Nevertheless, he really feels the best at making classic English saddles. Additionally, being a rider himself, he knows how to interpret people's needs in a very welcome way. From there was born the idea to combine the two styles. Jean-Luc built some English saddles, and carved them in a western style. Even if his job at the Riding Academy gives him ample satisfaction, he felt the urge to realize his ideas and concepts freely.

 

For this new passion, the Parisot Sellier Company was created. This is a way to produce and create today some prototypes and extraordinary saddles.

 

In 2001 Jean-Luc was contracted to help start a saddle making company in Morocco with friend Marc Grapin. He still travels in Morocco on a regular basis to maintain the skill level of the workers and build some prototypes.

 

Jean-Luc also beneficiated a lot from this experience: he learned what it takes to start an enterprise, but most importantly to his own eyes: the satisfaction to pass on the knowledge.

 

Just like Joseph Joubert old saying: "Teaching, it is learning twice."

 

 

Jean-Luc PARISOT by Michel GIGANDET

 

 

A special thank you to the Colonel J.M Faure, riding master of the "Cadre Noir" in Saumur, and to the Lt. Colonel D. Seigwart for the wonderful photo session.

 

 

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