The Long Game

Last updated on October 4th, 2017 at 12:37 am

What it takes to be an Equestrian Scout
PHOTOS BY Andrew Ryback & The Book LLC
For people who have only a rote understanding of the horseback-riding industry, it’s generally understood that there are four basic components: the breeder, the trainer, the rider, and the horse. Much has been made of the trainers who develop the horses—and with the recent Olympics, even laymen are more aware of the feats and dedication of professional riders such as Charlotte Dujardin. But what about the horses? In America, where horse-breeding programs are less widespread than in Europe, many of the top horses are imported. But they don’t just show up in America all willing and wet-eyed by themselves. Someone needs to find them, ride them, vet them, and get them in an airplane. Enter the equine scout.

Cyran Itzkovitz was an unlikely horse diviner when Halcyon Equestrian’s head of training, sales, and show programs, Lindsey Knight, first heard about him. To begin with, no one could figure out what the heck his name was. (To this day, all of Itzkovitz’s colleagues call him Cy [pronounced sigh], and new clients call him Simon, although his real name is pronounced See-ran.) Knight’s business was taking off, and she needed more help. A German farm hand mentioned a really tenacious French rider who was looking for experience in the American market, so Cyran came to White Bridge Farm in Litchfield, Connecticut, where Halcyon is based, to ride some of Knight’s horses. Right away, she knew that she was looking at the type of talent she could develop to become a transformational force at Halcyon.

“Even though he didn’t know that much about the American market,” Knight recalls from their initial meetings, “it was clear that Cy was a fastidious worker with raw talent. He has something that’s really rare in this industry—he wasn’t jaded. When he meets a horse for the first time, it’s not just another animal. This is really unusual, but there’s never been a horse that he won’t ride. He is truly, truly committed to the sport.”

One thing that convinced Knight of Itzkovitz’s professional potential was his resumé. Born in Paris, Itzkovitz grew up watching his father and grandfather ride in the Fontainebleau forest. He started pony club and dressage at 6 years old and was show jumping by 18, a discipline he decided to indulge in as a hobby for a year after college. He fell in love with jumping, and that one year turned into a seven-year adventure that saw him train-ing at many of the world’s top barns in Calgary and Europe, competing at pre-mier international events such as Spruce Meadows, and spending two years in Holland with the world-champion rider and stallion breeder Albert Zoer.

For Knight, Itzkovitz wasn’t just a young guy with a natural riding ability. He had a working knowledge of four languages and on-the-ground experience on two different continents. The European sport-horse market was growing with each season. With three decades in the business, Knight realized that Itzkovitz wouldn’t only be an asset for her clients, but for her horses, too “He’s equal parts talent and love, which both horse and rider appreciate,” says show jumper Brianna Lipovsky, who has trained with Itzkovitz. “I remember we’d wake up to Cyran chatting with the horses in French and English while galloping around the grass field that our house overlooked. He’d literally be having conversations with them while he thought no one was watching. Like they were his friends—and they truly are!”

Read the full story here: The Long Game