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Posts Tagged ‘Building a Life Together’

LovevLimits-horseandriderbooks

I think it is Buck Brannaman who has often likened working with horses to parenthood. And, as a horse person and a mom, I concur it is strikingly similar. Loving someone and yet setting limits and saying “No” can be an exhausting act of balance. You don’t want to err too soft or too hard…and even when you think you might have it right, you cringe when you see that look of hurt in your child’s eyes after he’s been remonstrated; you feel badly when your horse sulks a bit after you push his nose away from your pocket.

Faced with this challenge, many of us wonder how the “magicians” of the horse world do it–how those who so obviously have close connections with their horses manage to find that balance between love and limits.

In GALLOP TO FREEDOM, the book he wrote with his wife, Magali Delgado, renowned horseman Frédéric Pignon explores this topic at length. And seeing as his spellbinding liberty acts were what made the original rendition of Cavalia an international phenomenon (he and Magali toured with their horses as part of the original lineup from 2003 to 2009), you have to think that maybe he’s got something in the mix about right:

I allow absolutely no biting or jostling: this is a rule that I start establishing with a young horse from the first day I work with him. In fact, with one that I do not know, I impose a strict limit as to how close he approaches me. No two horses are the same but as a guide I would suggest a distance of a forearm. Confidence breeds respect and vice versa. In liberty training, if there is mutual confidence between us, I can allow myself to tap the horse on his legs with my whip without causing him to run away—but only if my action is a justified reaction to something wrong or disobedient that he has done.

A common mistake is to do too much “snuggling up” to a horse from the beginning. You should keep the distance appropriate to the stage of your relationship. I don’t immediately let a horse invade my space. Quite apart from the danger of being bitten, it puts you on the wrong footing. Once there is total confidence and respect in both directions it becomes another matter.

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It is not easy to define rule making. It may seem from what I have said that there are few rules and that the horse is encouraged to take the initiative. However, it is the case that rules are not only essential but that the horse functions the better for accepting certain guidelines. Here is the crux of the situation: you must not impose unreasonable rules that the horse feels he cannot accept with a willing spirit.

Man has deprived the horse of his natural state; the horse has been dragged into the world of humans and therefore it is the foundation stone of our relationship that we earn his respect before anything else. He has lost his freedom but we can give him protection, security, and respect. In return, he will give us respect and affection and recognize the behavioral limits that we set together.

In order to become important to a horse, we cannot remain neutral. I have to impose laws and make it absolutely clear what is not allowed. At the same time, I know that horses often crave reassurance even more than liberty so I must provide this. I have to encourage this craving and convince them that I am the person to satisfy the need.

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It has always amazed me how quickly a good chiropractor or osteopath convinces a horse that he is important to him. The horse understands in no time at all that the osteopath will relieve him of his aches and pains and therefore accepts him as a friend. This is why I think it is so important to spend time reassuring a horse and helping him relax rather than treating him with rewards. I often spend a quarter of an hour in the company of a horse, either in his stall or in the field, without asking anything of him. I just rub him gently and caress him and try to show him that there is all the time in the world; I am not going to rush him and I’m not going to make unreasonable demands.

If one of my liberty horses gives another a nip. I give him a tap with my whip. He knows he shouldn’t bite another horse and as long as I tap him with the right amount of strength, he will accept it; he will even put his head on my shoulder as if to say “I know, I know.” But if he only “looks” as though he is going to bite another horse and I give him a sharp tap instead of a warning word, that is not fair and he knows it. He runs away and this time I have to make it up to him by going to him. Even after an hour’s work I may still see in his eye that he is hurt and depressed.

The secret is to deploy the right amount of warning signals when I see a horse has something naughty in mind. “Don’t even think about it,” is a common enough warning between people and I have to find the equivalent for the horse, but it has to be one that he associates with his intention. He then says in effect, “Fair game.”

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For more on Pignon and Delgado’s ideas about establishing a balance between love and limits, check out their bestselling books GALLOP TO FREEDOM and BUILDING A LIFE TOGETHER: YOU AND YOUR HORSE.

CLICK HERE for more information.

And, don’t miss your chance to train with them in person! They are doing a limited number of clinics in the US in March, or you can join them at their farm in Provence in May for a special retreat experience. For more information CLICK HERE.

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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TSB author Magali Delgado with Mandarin.

TSB author Magali Delgado with Mandarin.

“Ability to make deadlines.” This is the kind of positive review we might expect to receive from a supervisor, or it’s a bulleted point we add to a resume. As a society, we value an individual’s commitment to doing what he or she says he or she will do “on time”—we schedule meetings we expect others to attend; our children have homework assignments we expect them to complete.

But when it comes to horses, deadlines are a recipe for disaster.

“In our world, everyone is obsessed with deadlines and speed,” says Magali Delgado in the bestselling book GALLOP TO FREEDOM, which she wrote with her husband Frederic Pignon. “In the horse’s world, you have to forget these. If you tug on a carrot, hoping to speed its growth, you will loosen the roots and achieve the opposite effect.”

Goals are different than deadlines, in that we can move the “achieved-by date” as necessary. We want our young horse to load into a trailer quietly and consistently? That’s a good goal. But a bad idea is to decide you need to reach that goal by the end of the week. Maybe you will accomplish it in that amount of time–or even less. But, few things scuttle your ability to work with horses in a rational, fair, and flexible way than stress and urgency brought on by—you guessed it—a deadline.

“When there are difficulties, I try to divide them up into manageable parts. I wait until the horse feels ready to take the next step, and I am convinced that in the end I save time by this approach,” says Magali. “When it comes to work, I try never to overdo it. Deciding on the correct length of a working session is vitally important. What is more, a horse must feel that if he does really well he will be rewarded with  a shorter session. If he is forced to go on too long it not only tires him, it also ‘demotivates’ him—a great mistake.

“In horse training, inevitably, you will make mistakes. As Albert Einstein said, ‘Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.’ My horse shies: Is that wheelbarrow the reason? I remove it; he shies again. Is it because he doesn’t like being away from his friends? And so on. I spend my life trying to get to the bottom of enigmas.”

But one thing, say Magali and Frederic, remains very clear:

“Always be patient and never push too fast or too insistently.”

 

CLICK IMAGE TO JOIN THE WAITLIST

CLICK IMAGE TO JOIN THE WAITLIST

GALLOP TO FREEDOM: TRAINING HORSES WITH OUR SIX GOLDEN PRINCIPLES is coming in paperback!

CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE WAITLIST on Trafalgar Square Books’ online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of horse books and DVDs, is a small, privately owned company based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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Photo by Gabriele Boiselle from Building a Life Together--You and Your Horse by Frederic Pignon and Magali Delgado

Photo by Gabriele Boiselle from Building a Life Together–You and Your Horse by Frederic Pignon and Magali Delgado

The sun changes this time of year…the light feels softer, pensive, less insistent. In many places this signals a shift of routine with our horses as competitive seasons wind up and our partners get a few weeks of well-deserved turnout before the frosts hit the late summer grass and fallen leaves hide any remaining morsels beyond reach of all but the most insistent grazers.

It is a good time for deep breaths, deep thought, and a few reminders of what this horse thing is all about. Here then are three messages from TSB authors to carry with you to the barn this week:

 

“On numerous occasions I have been confronted with the intelligence of horses in the course of their training. They rewarded the patience with which I tried to understand their characters by giving their best, just as they manifested their unwillingness when I demanded too much or had been unjust or too fast in their training. These are the moments of truth when the rider has to pause and reconsider his line of conduct. Whenever there are disagreements, it is best to seek the fault in oneself.”

–Alois Podhajsky, My Horses, My Teachers

 

“The art of training young horses is learning how to be fresh every day and not let their problems overwhelm your own spirit. Good training exalts the horse and the rider. When you realize how lucky you are to live the life of a horseman, there is nothing about the lifestyle that should be constantly depressing. Any authentic life will have some rough patches…You cannot control fate, you can only control your reaction to it. Training horses gives you chances to practice this every day.”

–Paul Belasik, Nature, Nurture, and Horses

 

“Everyone wants instant results but horses have their own rhythm, closer to nature, and at variance with any ideas involving deadlines, profitability, or even over-enthusiastic pressure toward some goal. Whether it concerns a horse being prepared for a show, or someone who has invested in a Grand Prix horse, or just an amateur rider with one hour per week to spare, there is only one rhythm to work to and that belongs to the horse.”

–Frederic Pignon, Building a Life Together–You and Your Horse

 

Find more horse wisdom from Trafalgar Square Books in our online bookstore–CLICK HERE TO VISIT NOW.

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BLThere

In 2009, TSB released GALLOP TO FREEDOM, the first book from the extraordinary French horse trainers Frédéric Pignon and Magali Delgado. Frédéric and Magali were the original stars of the hit traveling show Cavalia, with which the couple toured beginning in 2003 when the Cirque-du-Soleil-like performance—with horses—first took North America by storm. Over six years Frédéric, Magali, and their cast of beautiful stallions performed before more than two million spectators in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

Now, five years after we published their first book, the fabulous follow-up is available. In BUILDING A LIFE TOGETHER–YOU AND YOUR HORSE, Frédéric and Magali offer a series of practical and ethical guideposts to help build an honest, open, happy life with horses. Hundreds of emotionally charged photographs by internationally renowned photographer Gabriele Boiselle provide deliciously enlightening glimpses into the kind of relationships we all dream of having with our horses, and with each other.

In celebration of their second book on horses and horsemanship, here is a look back at part of writer Elizabeth McCall’s 2009 interview with Frédéric and Magali:

 

Q: You dedicated your book GALLOP TO FREEDOM to Dao and Templado, two of your world-famous Lusitano stallions. Describe what each horse contributed to your philosophy.

M: For me, Dao opened a door to encourage me to work deeply on the mind and on the body of the horse. It was like a revelation every day I was riding him. It was like, “Uh-oh, there is another way to work. Open your mind. Open your senses.” Dao showed me that.

F: When I started to work with Templado I understood that he was very special. He was one of those horses who makes you understand that every horse is very unique. There is no rule. There are no mathematical ways to understand a horse. Templado was a unique personality. He was not like the hundreds of horses I worked with before, and he made me understand that when we work with a horse, we have to adapt ourselves and even adapt everything we’ve learned [before] to this new unique personality. He taught us a lot, but the way he opened my mind…about working with a new horse using all we know and trying to learn more. When you work with a horse, I think it’s important to realize that he could probably teach you much more than you already know.

 

Frederic, Magali, and Dao on the beach in Malibu, California.

Frederic, Magali, and Dao on the beach in Malibu, California.

 

Q for M: There are some incredible shots of you on the beach in Malibu, California, in the book. You were galloping Dao without a bridle in Paradise
Cove! Were you sure he would stop?

M: At the beginning, I was feeling like he could gallop all the way to Los Angeles and we would both be happy. (Laughs) Both of us we were so excited. It was such a special feeling to be free with him on the beach, I didn’t care if he was running fast and I don’t think he cared either. You know that feeling—the horse starts to run and you don’t want him to stop. It’s a magical moment in your life. We did a lot of cantering on the beach that day.

Q for F: The book has photos of your two Friesian stallions Phoebus and Paulus when they first arrived on tour [with Cavalia] at one-and-a-half years old. It also shows them all grown up, performing at liberty. How did you train them on tour, along with performing, rehearsing, moving from city to city, and everything else?

F: That was the difficult part of having young horses on tour. It was a work in progress. It was interesting to let them learn how it works with
music and a show, but sometimes they were like two Friesian teenagers. That’s why now, I’m enjoying the time I can spend with them. It’s much
easier, but they had good experience [on tour] and now they are very professional.

 

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Q: You always look cool and calm in photos where you’re performing. Don’t you ever get nervous when you’re going on the stage with a horse for
the first time or competing?

M: For me it’s not nerves. I’m really excited. When I have a new horse, I’m always really excited by the results of my horse in the show and to see the reactions of the people. For me, it’s like a positive energy, but I know it’s not the same way for everybody. I’m lucky. I’ve been in shows since I was very young and I know myself very well. I need that little point of excitement inside when my heart is going boom, boom! (Laughs) But I’m not afraid and I’m not tense. I’m just very focused, concentrating, and full of energy and that has helped me a lot for the competition and for the show.

Q: So that helps the horse stay calm and focused too?

M: Yes, it’s like in my mind and my body I tell the horse, “OK, relax.” I speak a lot through my body.

Q for F: How do you deal with pressure situations, like when you’ve got five loose stallions to control?

F: You have to first work on your own stress. It’s why I do yoga. We have to first control ourselves and our emotions. If you can control yourself, then you can help the horses.

Q: What do you hope that people will realize about horses after they read your book?

M: I just hope that we can help people to look at their horses differently, to think their horses can understand. I hope the stories, from Dao to Mandarin to Templado, open people’s minds. Maybe if your horse is reacting he has pain, or he needs more attention. Look in his eyes and try to come back to a natural feeling. Don’t get distracted by everything around you. You’re not focused on your horse when you’re thinking, “I have the children, my job is bad, I have many bills to pay.” Just focus on your horse—try to read him and try to understand what he needs from the moment you are with him. I hope the stories we shared about the horses that taught us so much, like Dao and Templado, can help many people come back to some basics—first let your heart speak and your feelings. Then, forget everything going on around you and just think of your horse.

F: What we tried not to do is just method. There are already lots of books on that. What I observe most of the time is that people use methods like horses are bicycles. They’re horses. A horse is a big adventure when you start to be with one. We wanted to offer some new ideas of how to work with horses. What we wanted is for people to ask questions about what they’re doing and say, “Why we don’t rethink the situation with horses?”

 

Watch Frédéric share his “adventures” with a couple of his liberty horses in this video:

 

“When it comes to horse people, Frédéric Pignon and Magali Delgado are the most outstanding souls I know,” says photographer Gabriele Boiselle who provided many of the images in GALLOP TO FREEDOM and all of the photographs in the new BUILDING A LIFE TOGETHER—YOU AND YOUR HORSE. “The smile of Magali, the hands of Frédéric; I can’t think of anyone else with such a gift for intuitive communication and connection with horses…[Frédéric] has another wonderful talent, an ability to convey his wisdom and experience in words, in moving stories that inspire and motivate others. He is not only a wonderful horseperson, he can share that part of himself so that people understand and can try his methods with their own horses. Everything with Magali and Frédéric is about love and horses…I’m very privileged and happy to work with them both…Over time, our relationships have brought about deep connection, deep satisfaction, and deep insights, bringing us to the conclusion that what can be done with horses can best be done with love.”

 

GALLOP TO FREEDOM and BUILDING A LIFE TOGETHER—YOU AND YOUR HORSE are available from the TSB online bookstore where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER NOW

 

Federic, Templado, and Fasto take a break in Malibu.

Federic, Templado, and Fasto take a break in Malibu.

 

 

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In honor of Valentine’s Day, TSB couldn’t help but think of two individuals who clearly love horses and how life can be fuller and more joyful when horses are part of it. TSB is proud to announce the soon-to-be-released new book from Magali Delgado and Frederic Pignon, the founding stars of the hit show Cavalia and authors of the bestselling book GALLOP TO FREEDOM. Their new book, BUILDING A LIFE TOGETHER—YOU AND YOUR HORSE is their meaningful, beautiful, and personal account of  how people can begin, and then nurture, thriving and happy relationships with horses.

 

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“For the horse and our relationship to evolve in a good way, we have to remain open,” writes Frederic in BUILDING A LIFE TOGETHER—YOU AND YOUR HORSE. “In my imagination, I see open doors between us so that we always feel that physically and mentally we can achieve anything we set our minds to. If we rest on the principles we have been taught or learned, the relationship with the horse will stay shuttered. Every day I try to make a fresh start: this is a new day for me and for this horse I am with. What will happen? If I do not take this approach—and there are plenty of people in the horse world who do not—I shall never really get through to this horse and learn about his true nature.

“With the passage of time and all the experiences we have had, both good and bad, Magali and I gave up wanting to control everything and, in fact, we listen more and more to what the horses tell us they want to do….To me, being open means being in tune with myself and others, not having immutable principles but always having the wish to be as fair as possible. For the horse to have a beneficial effect on us we must remain open. We must entertain a sense almost of abandon so that we are always ready to be surprised and moved, and ready to question all our previous experience in order to find the true way forward.”

 

Watch Magali and Frederic demonstrate their love of horses in these spectacular clips from Equitana 2013:

 

BuildingLifeTogether

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And CLICK HERE to pre-order a copy of BUILDING A LIFE TOGETHER—YOU AND YOUR HORSE by Magali Delgado and Frederic Pignon for the special horse person (and Valentine!) in your life.

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