I’ve had a stack of emails from my last blog with people loving the story and asking for more of Pignon’s Magic – so here is what I think is his biggest key to success.
He allows the horse to say “no.”
I can see some of the puzzled faces already. “How can allowing a horse to say “no” create the kind of magic that Frederic produces day after day – specially under the pressures of public performance?”
It’s because when we push past the horse’s “no”, when we push past their limits in this moment, THAT is what creates tension and gets in the way of the horse learning to say YES.
The Magic gets created when our horse finds pleasure in saying YES as a normal way of being with us.
THAT is what is behind that flamboyant freedom of expression in every horse that Frederic works with. THAT is what is behind the Magic of every horse touched by Pignon.
When we push past our horse’s limits we create stress, stress creates tension and all our lovely dreams of poetry in motion and amazing togetherness go flying out the window.
Frederic Pignon’s magic is created because he creates the HABIT of the horse saying YES by noticing when they have reached their limits and not pushing beyond it and when he does push beyond it by mistake, he stops and says sorry very meaningfully – I still have the vision of him paused with his hand on the horse’s forehead apologizing – and then he goes back to something they CAN say YES to.
So how does he know when a horse has reached their limits and is about to say no?
It’s easy to see with our eyes AFTER the horse has said no – there’s big and small ways they say no. All resistance is the horse saying no, just about all those behaviors that we don’t want, are the horse saying no. Some of the signs are subtle, like their eye crinkled with anxiety or their nose scrunched up. With Oliver yesterday I noticed him gulp when I pushed him past his limit by mistake. I had to stop and say sorry and rethink how to ask for what I wanted.
But Magic is created in NOT pushing past the limits – in knowing where the limits are and stopping BEFORE we get there. And how does Frederic do that?
And FEEL is widely regarded as either unteachable (I suspect Frederic, like most great horse people was born with it) or you expect to spend years and years getting enough experience to develop it.
The good news is that they’re wrong. Feel IS teachable. And you can learn that Magic Touch simply and easily. And there’s a link to some free lessons below that get you started with the foundation of FEEL. They are interesting little lessons – simple but with layers of meaning in them.
The 9 Keys to Happiness with Your Horse are my gift back to the horses of the world who have given me so much – but specially in immense gratitude to my horse Bobby, who has told me many times over the years that my job is to connect horses and people, so click here for them – The 9 Keys to Happiness with Your Horse, and get your short, simple, one lesson per day for the next 10 days.
I would like to extend a huge thanks to Paulette at Ribbleton Warmbloods who brought Frederic and Magali out to Australia and put in an enormous amount of organization to bring us such a wonderful clinic experience. Paulette leads horse experience trips to France, one of which is a trip to Frederic and Magali (it’s on my bucket list!)
AND… you can buy Frederic’s book Gallop to Freedom here.
Here’s a photo of Magali translating these principles to a Grand Prix dressage test. OMGoodness look at the spectacular movement of this horse!