… 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.
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