BACK IN THE SADDLE: Hermès returned to its roots in the carriage trade on Friday with the launch of the fourth edition of its Saut Hermès event in Paris, which featured show jumping competitions, an equestrian display and the launch of its newest saddle.

Artistic director Pierre-Alexis Dumas confessed that he had not personally tested the Hermès Cavale, which has been ergonomically designed for high-level riding.

“I love hearing saddle-makers talk about their work. I am very familiar with the know-how it requires and I really respect what they do, but I am not a horse rider. My father, incidentally, was not either,” he said, referring to the late Hermès chief executive officer Jean-Louis Dumas.

“That’s why we asked top professional rider Simon Delestre to help us develop the saddle. When you are a craftsman and you are creating a product, you need to remain very humble with regard to the complexity of the animal, and the expert who briefed us on the use of the saddle was the rider who tested it,” Dumas added.

He was joined by Hermès ceo Patrick Thomas, Thomas’ designated successor Axel Dumas — who will be made joint ceo in June — and deputy ceo Patrick Albaladejo at a brunch under the soaring glass-and-steel roof of the Grand Palais, which was decorated with the pavilions of a medieval tournament for the occasion.

From April 12 to 14, forty of the world’s top riders vied for prize money totaling 458,500 euros, or $600,000 at current exchange, including the prestigious Grand Prix Hermès on Sunday afternoon.

The event was open to members of the public, who were also able to enjoy a display of equestrian vaulting, a discipline that combines gymnastics, dance and riding, by Nicolas Andréani and Marina Joosten-Dupon.

Meanwhile, the French national horse riding school, known as the Cadre Noir de Saumur, teamed up with the Elastonautes crew to create a show combining dressage and aerial acrobatics.

The galleries around the arena hosted refreshment areas, a pony club, photographic studio, gift shop and bookstore.

Next to it was an exhibition of photographs by Jacques Henri Lartigue designed to mark the launch of a book grouping 170 of Lartigue’s photographs, jointly edited by Hermès and publisher Actes Sud to mark the luxury firm’s chosen theme for this year, “A Sporting Life.”