HORSING AROUND: Hermès on Friday launched the fifth edition of its Saut Hermès event in Paris, which this year will see the prestigious Grand Prix Hermès show jumping competition broadcast live on a giant screen in front of Paris City Hall.

A group of French horn players in full riding regalia sounded the kick-off for the three-day event, held under the soaring glass-and-steel roof of the Grand Palais. In addition to the competition, it will feature “Metamorphosis,” an equestrian display by horse trainer Bartabas inspired by the terracotta army of Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang.

Axel Dumas, chief executive officer of Hermès, noted that although saddle making was no longer a key trade for the house, which started off as a harness maker in 1837, it remained one of its key areas of expertise.

“It’s our heritage and it’s our future,” said Dumas, who expressed regret that horses are rarely seen in Paris. On a day where a heavy cloud of pollution hung over the French capital, he suggested the city provide them as an alternative means of transport.

“One finds oneself hoping that one day, perhaps, alongside the Vélib’ [shared bicycles] and Autolib’ [shared cars], we will see the birth in the capital of Chevalib’ [shared horses] that would be a fair tribute from mankind to the equine family that has been ousted without a fair trial,” he said.

Thirty-five of the world’s top riders are vying for prize money totaling 662,000 euros, or $921,330 at current exchange, including the Grand Prix Hermès on Sunday afternoon.

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