Meet the MLSJ Course Designer: Gregory Bodo

France’s Gregory Bodo will set the test for the world’s most prestigious championship this summer. The Frenchman has been tapped to co-lead the course designing team for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games alongside Spain’s Santiago Varela. It’s a dream come true for Bodo and career making achievement. 

This week, Bodo is at Thunderbird Show Park masterminding the tracks for the first leg of the 2024 Major League Show Jumping season. 

We caught up with him to talk course designing, his signature style and what to expect this week in the tbird ring. 

tbird: Gregory, you had said in a 2018 interview that your dream was to one day build the courses for the Olympics. Now that dream is coming true. Talk a bit about how you’re feeling at this moment?

Gregory Bodo: My feeling is fine. I am not nervous. Effectively, the Olympic Games will start two months from now. So there’s no stress at this moment. Maybe it will be different the first day of the Olympic Games! But right now, I am so proud to have this appointment. It’s a good experience, a good challenge also, for me. 

tbird: You’re quite literally at the top of your game.

Bodo: Yeah, absolutely. I’m very excited.

tbird: You started course designing quite young. What made you want to pursue this craft?

Bodo: I started course designing at 18. At around 15 years old, I followed different regional course designers, because this aspect of the sport is very interesting.

Besides course designing, I am also a marketing teacher. I split my time between course designing approximately 30 events per year and the rest of the time, two days per week, I am a marketing teacher. It’s very important to me to have a good balance in life.

tbird: Describe your course designing process.

Bodo: I think with the modern sport, you need to take into account a lot of parameters. The level of the horses, the level of the riders, of course. The type of footing, the landscape. After considering the technical requirements, the fences and the obstacles and so on, I need to take into account all the details—the decoration, the profile of the fences, the different colors. 

For me, the details today are for the eye, for the spread, for the distances—all parameters are very important to give a good course and also to have a good result. It is very important maybe to be perfectionist. I am a perfectionist. I try to respect all details.

tbird: How has your course designing style evolved over the years?

I like to propose to the rider always a problem for them and never for the horses. This is the first point. After that, I like a forward course from the start line to the finish line. 

And, usually I don’t build very high, very big. I respect the height of the competition, but for me I like [the course] to be subtle, to be delicate, to play with the profile of the fences, the colors of the poles, the distance. All details like that are very important for a Gregory Bodo course.

tbird: What can we expect for the Major League show jumping team event and the Grand Prix this weekend?

Bodo: This is my second time designing for Major League. The first time was two years ago in Monterrey, Mexico. I think I’m going to propose for the team class a [flowing] course. Not so big. Just to see the horses jump very well. This is very important for me. The horses must jump very well. After the result of this class, I’m going to prepare correctly the Grand Prix. I’m going to build like usual, with [questions] for the riders, of course. Always fluent, always forward.

I hope it will be a good show with good sport this week and the best [pair] wins the Grand Prix.

Tickets for the MLSJ Team Competition, sponsored by ClipMyHorse.tv, and MLSJ Grand Prix are available on tbird.ca

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