Few individuals are able to unite the various interests of the equestrian world, but one man did just that at this year’s Horse of the Year Show – his name? Lorenzo.

Better known as ‘The Flying Frenchman’ for his remarkable ability to jump obstacles while perched on the back of two horses, his appearance at Birmingham proved to be a draw for competitors from all disciplines and a talking point to the point of adulation.

Few horsemen and women could fail to be both impressed and touched by his remarkable ability to communicate with horses in a way in which most could only dream.

The 42-year-old was born Laurant Serre, in the Camargue region of France, where the marsh land of the River Rhône meets the Mediterranean and famed for its grey horses of the same name.

Having inherited his mother’s passions for horses, aged six he first rode her small grey mare bred in the region and used this famous breed during his early performances because they were local and easily sourced. With a need for bigger horses as he grew older, he moved on to Lusitano crosses and currently uses pure-bred Lusitanos, the Portuguese breed well-known for its trainability.

His contrasting grey and black horses, six of each, may have created an impressive sight in the International Arena at the NEC, however, what he achieved with them went well beyond that.

His early inspiration came from local circus artists whose trick-riding fascinated him, so it was no wonder he moved from riding to vaulting. Training on the beaches of the Camargue, he made his first appearance aged eight and by 12 he was show-casing his talent in his own shows for tourists and at this point he took the name of Lorenzo.

By the time he was 16, he was travelling further afield in France and by 17 had performed across Europe, including his first Equitana, in Germany.

He had become inspired by the liberty acts in which horses work without any harness and moved totally to liberty very quickly. He chose not to follow the type of acts seen in the circus and it has always been his personal goal to be creative and never to copy anyone.

His inspiration this time was a fellow Frenchman from the Camargue, Jean-François Pignon, whose performances in 2002 and 2005 at HOYS have already set a special place in the hearts and minds of UK horse enthusiasts of all levels of equestrianism. Personally, I will never forget the first time I witnessed Pignon’s performance there and the emotions which went along with witnessing a person so at one with his horses.

Needless to say, I joined a long line of others to be inspired by him.

Lorenzo must also have been inspired by the the legendary horsemen from the great Hungarian plain known as Puszta. Known locally as the Csikòs (pronounced Chicos) in some ways they are the European version of cowboys, as it was their task to look after the cattle and horses on the plain.

Having also witnessed their skills at HOYS, I was impressed by their remarkable relationship with their horses, equally as impressive but considerably less sensitive or subtle as that of Lorenzo, or Pignon.

At his debut performance at HOYS in 2004, Lorenzo impressed with his Hungarian-styled performances standing on horseback with the use of reins. Fifteen years on, he appeared this year with double the number of horses and without reins most of the time.

Living up to his reputation, he amazed the audience with performances which included a double of jumps with all 12 horses and a combination of bending poles with three sets of pairs culminating in a jump.

Added to this, a truly artistic routine with his horses from the ground, show-cased Lorenzo’s ability and talent at another level. A description in words goes nowhere near the experience in reality.

It’s also unconventional because he stands on horses as opposed to sitting on them and Lorenzo’s communication and relationship with them is inspirational to say the least. It was the famous ‘Horse Whisperer’, Pat Pirelli, who made these comments about him: “Two aspects of the performance which are particularly difficult are, firstly, getting four horses to act as one and, secondly to instruct, not from the centre of the circle, but from the edge.” Surely this is testimony itself to Lorenzo’s skill.

There was no question that Lorenzo touched both my head and my heart at HOYS but amidst the many awe-inspiring performance there, so too did another.

Ironically, it came in the driving championship sponsored by Steve Dent, who has been working with stunt horses for more than 30 years and specialises in providing horses, carriages, full stunt equipment and rigging packages for films and advertising. (Incidentally he provided an extremely interesting standing display of vehicles used during the Great War.)

This is one of the championship at HOYS which I always make a point of watching, never failing to be impressed by the nostalgia evoked from a by-gone age of transport, or the dazzling brass buckles and carriages under the spotlights of the International arena.

There is always an air of excitement as the 15 finalists are whittled down to the final eight. To say tension mounts as they are sent on their way once more to impress the judges is far from understatement, especially as the whips do everything in their power to impress during those final circuits of the arena.

This year, it proved to be a battle of champions between last year’s victor, the black hackney horse, Plains Royalty – driven by Neil Wray – and the 2014 and 2015 champion, the bay hackney pony, Aghaderg Stand and Deliver, driven by Jessie Dudley Apicella.

Needless to say, both were turned out to absolute perfection and both performed to impress in a way only the exuberant hackney breed can. The pony was explosive in its action at each time of asking as, too, was the horse, whose balance and composure made everything look so easy.

As good as the exhibits are, there is no question that the whips play such an important part and there couldn’t have been two more able or experienced on the day. Spectacle apart, I was impressed by the light and dark shades of performance which Neil Wray achieved from his stallion, moving from collection in the corners to extension on the strait in an effortless and seemless fashion. It was remarkable and so impressive.

Acknowledging the difficulty of the task of selecting a champion, I was with the judges all the way when Plains Royalty was eventually called in top.

It is a pity that the battle between these two marvellous exhibits wasn’t witnessed by a full house during an evening performance as it would surely have proved added entertainment to the schedule.

In Continental Europe, the opportunity would certainly not have been missed and I could imagine the excitement and adulation of the crowd as these two hackneys rose to the occasion as they fought their way for the ‘Harness Horse and Pony of the Year’ crown.

Maybe one for the organisers next year?