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The Tao of Dao

The Tao of Dao

… work deeply on the mind and on the body of the horse. Open your mind. Open your senses.

Magali Delgado and Frédéric Pignon, equestrian co-directors of Cavalia recently spoke by phone from their farm in France with Elizabeth McCall to discuss their new book, Gallop to Freedom. This book is kind of a Cavalia retrospective from their points of view.

I think they’re really interesting people not only because of their obvious skill with horses but also because both Magali and Frédéric always appear so calm and centered. It’s apparently not just their on-stage personas, either. Finding time and emotional energy to write a book while training equine performers and touring extensively might seem a daunting task to most, but, in this interview, they reveal themselves to be grounded in the tranquil, present energy of the horses they surround themselves with.

Magali Delgado image with gratitude from

Magali Delgado image with gratitude from

Frederic Pignon image with gratitude from

Frederic Pignon image with gratitude from

Maybe this is why they dedicated their book to the world-famous Lusitano stallions Dao and Templado. When describing what Templado contributed to his philosophy, Frédéric said,

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.

Surprising how humble this accomplished horseman and trainer is in comparison to many horsemen of lesser talent. I find his willingness to allow Templado to broaden his “horsey world view” very appealing. So few of us actually believe a horse can teach us anything.

Elizabeth McCall asked them how they manage to stay so peaceful within the whirlwind of their lives in the spotlight. Don’t they ever get nervous about performing? Magali answers,

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! 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.

Frédéric, who often orchestrates the performances of up to five stallions at a time, sums up the essence of mindful horsemanship, saying,

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.

You can get a full-length copy of the interview, “Magali Delgado and Frédéric Pignon talk about their new book, Gallop to Freedom“. Contact Elizabeth McCall

© 2009 enlightened horsemanship through touch and Kim Cox Carneal

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Wordless Wednesday: Amazon Art by Eleanor Hartwell

Wordless Wednesday: Amazon Art by Eleanor Hartwell

Amazon Art and Design

On to the Next by Eleanor Hartwell

On to the Next by Eleanor Hartwell

This is my all-time favorite work of art presented here at  Enlightened Horsemanship Through Touch. Unfortunately for me, it has been sold. I am very jealous of the lucky owner!

Handmade fly whisks by Eleanor Hartwell

Handmade fly whisks by Eleanor Hartwell

EDITED TO ADD: I have tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to make these images link directly to Eleanor’s site with no success. Sorry Eleanor!

Read more…

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Frederic Pignon and Magali Delgado of Cavalia

I very nearly got to go for an informal visit with my boss this month. Very nearly. Now that would have been the trip of a lifetime.


© 2009 enlightened horsemanship through touch and Kim Cox Carneal

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Netflix for Equestrians: HorseFlix!

When my daughter was away at college, I was able to dispense with television entirely because, well, I hate it. It serves no purpose in my life other than to introduce noisy and offensively mindless material into my home. I have never been able to understand why people keep the thing on endlessly and even eat in stupefied silence in front of it. What happens to family life? To conversation? Or to the life of the mind? How can you develop your mind (or stillness of the mind) if you are so busy filling it with garbage?

Ok, enough ranting disguised as rhetorical questions.

I’m a huge fan of Netflix. I get to choose Netflix among a large variety of independent film and documentary, and on the rare occasion when a guest insists on a horror flick or my daughter is home and insists on SciFi, she can have that, too. On a limited basis. Hooray for a limited basis.

I can never find equestrian instructional DVDs on Netflix, and now I don’t have to keep trying.

Now, there’s HorseFlix, an online/mail video rental service for equine/equestrian videos.

Here are some of the categories offered:

Clicker Training
Feature Films
Foal Care
For The Rider
Gaited Horse
General Interest
Health – Horse
Hoof Care
Natural Horsemanship
Pony Club
Saddles and Fit
Trick Training
Wild Horses

There’s a lot of good stuff in there, and there’s also some questionable stuff, but not much of it. I would very much like to copyedit the site, but that’s a bad habit of mine, so ignore that statement. I am thrilled to see that there are five Mark Rashid videos. *doing a little happy dance* and I can now watch Chris Irwin, which will make Shoshin happy.

Take a look, see what you think. Let me know what videos YOU most would like to see.

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Some Folks Call Sculpture Horse Sh*t, But This Is The Real Thing!

Some Folks Call Sculpture Horse Sh*t, But This Is The Real Thing!

Horseworld is the U.K.’s leading equine rescue charity, rescuing, rehabilitating and adopting out horses, ponies, and donkeys.

Visitors to the Horseworld Rescue Center in Bristol, England got an eye- (and nose-) full of a new sculpture in the gardens yesterday. Sculptor Sophie Howard is completing a life-size model of a horse out of, you guessed it, manure. The statue is part of a green theme exhibition planned for the center in the second half of July.

photo courtesy

photo courtesy

Howard likes making unpredictable sculptures and feels that re-using the manure humorously honors the green and recycling themes of the exhibition. To make the all-natural sculpture, Howard visits the manure pile daily for fresh material to mix with clay and lime for application to a willow frame, which will show through the surface of the manure, representing muscles and flesh of the horse.

I like the idea of the horses at HorseWorld giving something back to the people who will visit the exhibition!

Other sculptures in the exhibition will include a horse made of thousands of CDs created by Bristol sculptor Dean Williams and a horse’s head carved by chainsaw impresario AD Tree Pirate.

For more information click on Horseworld and Horse And Hound Magazine.

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