My experience with Frederic Pignon was more than I could have ever imagined or hoped it would be. It all began with an intimate dinner on Thursday night (which also happened to be my birthday).  Among lovely friends (both old and new) we shared a low country boil dinner at a local farm in Aiken, SC.  During this first evening, Frederic and his wife Magali shared video footage of their newest show (EQI) which has been five years in the making.  EQI is breathtakingly beautiful.  My favorite part is when Frederic and his wife do the tango on Buckskin horses that are brothers.  It reflects the romanic love of man and wife as well as the brotherly love of the horses. The dance was so beautiful!  I couldn’t take my eyes off their majestic performance.  It was romantic and awe-inspiring.  I've never seen anything like it. When we all returned to the beautiful farm (where the clinic would be held) my horse Shadow was patiently waiting for his (later than usual) supper before being tucked into a plush stall with automatic waterers and padded stall floors.  

The clinic started at 9 am on Friday.  My individual sessions with Frederic were scheduled for 3 pm on both Friday and Saturday.  I watched him work with four horses before my session began. Without a doubt, I saw a man who is living his truth.  Frederic is eloquent, charismatic, precise, soft-spoken, centered, and fully present.  He is both an innovative artist and an accomplished performer.  When 3:00 pm finally arrived, Shadow and I entered the 50 ft round pen.  For me, this was a different experience.  I have always done my work with horses in an arena where they are able to escape my influence if needed.  Whereas the other participants chose to perform their demonstrations for Frederic with tack on their horses, I dropped Shadow's tack and allowed him to familiarize himself with the area.  As he did so, I introduced myself to Frederic and explained that I train my horses at liberty from the beginning without tack.  Frederic asked me to show him what my horse and I could do.  He left the round pen and took a seat.  Fully aware of my nerves,  I reminded myself to just keep breathing.  I asked Shadow to move on the rail of the round pen and to stay on the rail until I called him to me.  He came and together we walked and trotted together in our typical magnetic connection.  We moved in unison as we walked, trotted, and stopped together.  I sent Shadow to the rail and while he cantered I asked for the whoa, which he did.  I called him to me and he came.  Despite the connection there were some glitches. After reviewing our video, I could see I was rushing things (nerves perhaps…you think ???)  and Shadow nipped at me several times as we were trotting together.  When Shadow was away from me, he tended to lose focus but overall the connection and relationship I have with Shadow shined through.  I knew we weren't perfect but under the circumstances I was pleased.  One thing was certain; the relationship that I have with my horse was undeniable and I was pleased.   

NOW FOR THE DRUM ROLE……………..dadadadadadadada

Everything seemed to go silent when Frederic began to speak.  With kindness in his voice, he expressed the hiccups he observed and he was spot on.  He asked me to address the nipping behavior. Even though he knew we were nervous, it needed to be fixed.  He gave me a few more recommendations and then asked what we wanted to work on.  I mentioned that we had begun to work on (1) the rear and (2) the Spanish Walk.  He asked me to demonstrate.  Shadow did them honestly.  At this point, Frederic began working with Shadow.  As I left the round pen, the session took an unexpected twist.

 Throughout the day, I had totally agreed with Frederick's perceptions concerning horses but when he began to describe Shadow's personality, I did not agree at all.  Even more strangely, as Frederic described some negative behavior traits he perceived in Shadow, my horse began displaying those behaviors.  I was shocked to see Shadow acting this way.  It seemed as though Shadow did not like being talked about in a negative manner.  Frederic described him as a fighter who pushed the limits, etc. I didn’t agree that Shadow is a fighter, but low and behold Shadow chose that exact moment to pick a fight with Frederic.  It was so out of character!  I have never seen Shadow do this, even in the pasture with other horses.  

Frederic put the tack on Shadow and began teaching him the Spanish Walk.  It was lovely to watch the method, instruction, and the direction he gave to Shadow.   It was so precise and beautiful to watch.  As the session ended, Frederic said Shadow did well but he knew Shadow was not doing his best nor did he think that Shadow was happy about the experience.  Frederic did not feel that Shadow connected with him but couldn't quite but his finger on the problem. It was a puzzling end to Day 1.  Although Shadow wasn't thrilled with his lesson on Friday, Iwas filled with gratitude for this incredible experience.  I felt graced and honored to work with Frederic.  His horsemanship skills are second to none.  Even more importantly, I felt very validated in the work that I do with horses as well.




The Waterhole Rituals have allowed me to create the strong bonds that I have with my horses.  I am so pleased and happy that it is my life's work to share these rituals with my clients.  On Friday, as I watched the challenges faced by the other participants, I could visualize how to help without the use of tack or the restraint of a round pen.  When using the Waterhole Rituals to strengthen your relationship with a horse at liberty, many "problems" simply go away.  As I took Shadow back to his stall I thanked him for sharing this day with me and I told him to "Just be who you are. I ask nothing more than that".

Next week-Part 2 of our clinic with Frederic Pignon.  

Until then, 

Linda & Shadow

Linda Salinas45 Comments