“Pignon was here.” That and his beautifully gentle philosophy, will be written in the minds of the people forever, who got to see, hear and feel Frederic Pignon work his magic on 6 ordinary horses in Sydney this weekend. (For those unfamiliar with the name, Frederic is the co-developer and trainer of the beautiful Cavalia and Eqi horse shows.)
I traveled for 12 hours to see him and it would have been worth weeks of travel – I’m so excited, that I haven’t even finished unpacking and done my washing and I’m here on the computer to try and share some of the magic. I haven’t seen my own horses yet either and I yearn to share it with them too.
Where do I start?
FREDERIC PIGNON HEARS HORSES
Monsieur Pignon hears horses clearly and he takes the time to listen to them, listening and feeling deeply to their story before he does anything else with them. None of the flamboyant “let’s get started imposing our will on this horse and show you what I can do” from Frederic.
And yet flamboyant he is – but flamboyant through the expressiveness of the horse rather than what he can get them to do – and yet what he can get them to do with his incredibly gentle and baby step and slow approach is phenomenal.
A little Brumby who had been a touch on the stern side, turned his heart inside out offering to give Frederic Spanish Walk – and yet there was not one single tiny bit of push from Frederic to get it – not the tiniest bit.
A young Spanish horse showed us the components that would later become piaffe in hand. And yet he too was not asked for piaffe. Another horse learned to relax into beginning to bow. A twenty two year old found a glorious confidence in his own movement (yes it’s never too late in my experience too!)
With every horse, Frederic starts with enjoyment – in fact that seems to be his foundation principle. He wants the horse to be saying YES! to everything because they are enjoying themselves, enjoying learning, enjoying stretching themselves, proud to show themselves to him and us, proud to be expressive, alive, alert, engaged and willing.
Every horse loosened up in their movement, started showing who they are and developed a beautiful flowing action as they brought that confidence and willingness and pride in who they are to the expression of their movement.
And he showed us HOW he got that result, he was constantly sharing the principles BEHIND what he was doing as well as some practical techniques.
Somebody asked him about does he have any teaching videos and he said no, because it wouldn’t do any good to copy what he does on a video – because he responds to each horse, individually, in the moment – and you can’t copy that. (Lovely validation for the “feel” that I teach that enables people to do that!)
For those of you who are familiar with chakras, you could actually feel his heart chakra expanded all over the arena – I had never felt anything like it.
I thought it was very interesting that what horses complain to Frederic the most about, is not mistreatment.
Frederic has worked with hundreds and hundreds of horses in clinics including problem horses and horses that have been quite dramatically mistreated and yet he told us that the biggest thing the horses complain to him about is not mistreatment – it’s being misunderstood.
I had not noticed that myself, but when I look back, yes that’s true. I felt great anguish from my horse Oliver for example, who was given to me as a “very bad boy”. He was not mistreated before he came here. In fact it was the reverse – he was attentively given the best of everything – and yet he was filled with anguish about being misunderstood and it was those misunderstandings that had so gotten in the way of their relationship. Lucky for me though, because he came here instead and I adore him.
Hmmm… Connection, listening, developing your own unique sense of feel – these things will steadily reduce and eliminate misunderstandings.
This guy is so in alignment with what I believe in, it’s uncanny. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed him so much. He thinks that what horses can teach us, what we can learn from horses is a deeper connection with ALL things, how to BE with ALL things, to the betterment of the world.
“Are horses below us on the evolutionary scale?” he asked/gestured in his lovely but easy to understand French accent. “Or above us?”
It’s difficult for me to separate my work with horses and riders, from my work as a “healer”, from my greater beliefs in the way that God and The Universe works. For me too, horses have been my personal pathway to knowledge that has impacted my life outside of horses hugely, positively, dramatically and joyfully.
From horses I have learned how to find peacefulness and joyfulness and freedom from fear and other overwhelming emotions in ALL of my life not just with them. From horses I awakened from my numbness, from that space I was in of just putting one foot in front of the other getting through my work days and through life generally – I awakened (and continue to awaken) into an enjoyable engagement with life generally, finding a new vibrancy with everything that I do. Ahhh bless them all!
I expect that most of us who have been working with horses from a spiritual path would probably agree with Frederic that they are above us in many ways and certainly we can learn things from them which will make this a better world.
When we treat horses like this – when we treat them as beings that can teach us things that will improve our lives and the world generally – then we get to see more and more of who they really are.
What I find so moving sitting here at the computer this morning, is that so much of what we do here, so much that I learned from listening to the horses themselves, was validated by Frederic this weekend.
The self carriage in joyfulness that comes automatically as we understand and work with the Comfort Zone Model – that’s Frederic’s “expressive horse”, although I have to tell you I have never seen anyone achieve that so fast.
He has NEVER had a horse buck as he starts them with riding – they are too busy enjoying the experience. He starts a young horse by sitting on them for a few minutes at a time enjoying with them the scratching of their withers – and nothing else – for a month. That reminded me of the couple of things that we do here with older horses to take them to developing that same delicious enjoyment of a human being on their back.
If the babies show ANY sign of tension, he gets off, waits and sets it up again when they’re ready. By the sounds of it, his babies don’t even learn what tension is and yet with the horses in Sydney he showed us what can be achieved quite quickly even when tension already exists.
Yet another validation – he said that it’s hard to separate training the horse from healing the horse. That’s been my pathway too, healing the horse within the training itself and in my case, healing the person within the training of the horse as well.
Over and over again, one thing after another, it was clear that we were in alignment. But I guess it’s not surprising – when you listen to horses you’re going to hear the truth.
I’ll share more of what I learned and how it fits with what we do here, with students in the next Live Seminar – so if you’re already in one of our programs that gets the monthly Live Seminar, keep an eye out for that email in a week or so’s time and there’s a fabulous conversation going on in the comments section too.
And as for Magali Delgardo. It’s sooo… sad (can you hear the smiling in my words?) I’m just going to have to take a trip to France to work with her. Sorry folks, I just couldn’t drag myself away from the feast of learning that I was having with her husband to watch her dressage teachings which I had also been very much looking forward to!
If you EVER get the chance to work with either of these two, then grab it with both hands and run towards the magic.