Autumn European Tour: Tellington TTouch with Frederic Pignon

Approximately 100 auditors from Germany, Italy and all over France signed up for the unique clinic on Oct 20th weekend that included working with Magali, with me, and with Frederic.

Frederic and I at the venue.  Frederic did a wonderful job translating!

Frederic and I at the venue. Frederic did a wonderful job translating!

Each day Fred worked with 12 students, with one session in the early morning with 6 students and a second session with 6 different students in the afternoon. Magali worked outside giving riding lessons all day to 8 very lucky riders. Her teaching has a poetic quality that is indescribable and I am inspired every time I watch her teach a riding lesson. The horses seem to enjoy the lessons as much as the riders do.

Riding Spiree after she had made her wonderful transformation, visibly softening through her entire body and in her expression.

Riding Spiree after she had made her wonderful transformation.

Five horses were chosen for me to work with for the 2 days.

  • A 15 year old pony mare named Niagara had spent a very hard four years in a riding club with many different children riding her. Nobody liked her and she had run away with many riders. She was hard to catch. Very hard to halter, and did not like being touched on her body. This is just the type of horse I LOVE to work with- particularly because two months ago she was rescued from this situation by a very caring, young woman named Elodie who wants to understand and help the mare.
Meeting Niagra.  Frederic translates as I start with mindful Forelock slides.

Meeting Niagra. Frederic translates as I start with mindful Forelock slides.

One of the key TTouches for Trust, ear slides are a wonderful way to encourage a lowering of the head and overall relaxation and trust.  Notice how much she has relaxed from our initial interaction.

One of the key TTouches for Trust, ear slides are a wonderful way to encourage a lowering of the head and overall relaxation and trust. Notice how much she has relaxed from our initial interaction.

  • Spiree, a 6 year old mare owned by Segolene who was there with a film crew to produce an online TV show. The mare was said to be extremely spooky, sometimes bolting sideways, and other times lethargic. Spiree had coliced twice and had been treated for ulcers after being in training for Three-Day Eventing. Segolene said she was not an experienced rider so she sent the mare for training and the trainer was training her to with a very low head.
Raising the back will immediately change a horse's posture and begin to change their habitual response to things.

Raising the back will immediately change a horse’s posture and begin to change their habitual response to things.

  • A 2 –year old Andalusian stallion brought by a very nice Dutch woman who wanted the horse to have the experience of being in front of a crowd. She thought he was ready for this and could not understand why both Frederic and I told her clearly that this horse needs basic manners and training at home. He could not be lead in a straight line because she had to hold him back constantly. The only way she could stop him was with her elbow in his shoulder and his head pulled around to the left – not a good idea for a stallion because elbowing a stallion in the shoulder activates the biting instinct and she had an understandable issue with his mouthiness.
  • A beautiful 3-year old Andalusian mare being trained by her owner, Sylvie, for liberty work. Apparently the mare gets annoyed sometimes and will not listen to Sylvie so she says she walks away and comes back to the mare later, but wanted to understand why the mare was getting “annoyed”.  Sylvie was worried that she was doubting the mare too much, did not understand her behavior and said she did not know how to “read”her.
  • A 4-year old Arabian gelding named Uriel who had exactly the same conformation and posture as a 16-year-old unrideable Arabian in the Speyer clinic a few weeks earlier. Uriel had been to two trainers and sent back to the owner as dangerous and unrideable after badly injuring one of the trainers.

What was intriguing about the three horses who were very challenging to their owners, was their extremely high head-carriage with very tight underside of their necks. Sylvie’s three year old mare has a lovely eye and appeared to me to be very willing, but her habit of carrying her head so high, combined with a tight neck, effects breathing and causes tension throughout the whole body, limiting her ability to focus and effecting mental and physical balance. In my opinion the mare wanted to cooperate but was limited by her habitual posture. As soon as I raised her back with back lifts, she lowered her head and was able to give her attention and became very cooperative. I believe the mare’s apparent unwillingness to cooperate was due Sylvie’s lack of understanding the impact of posture, not knowing how to change that posture, and lack of clear direction to the mare.

Our basic concept: “Change the posture and you can change the behavior”  fit this situation perfectly.

The initial posture of the young Andalusian mare.  High headed and tense in the back.

The initial posture of the young Andalusian mare. High headed and tense in the back.

After some TTouch and leading exercises she was able to release her neck and change her posture.

After some TTouch and leading exercises she was able to release her neck and change her posture.

Both Niagara and Uriel had these same tight necks and high-head carriage and both had been trained with the technique of running the horses in a small circle and backing them up from a toss of the rope with this same high-head, tight-back, blocked hindquarter posture that prevented awareness of their bodies. This posture activates the sympathetic nervous system and puts a horse out of balance.  Both these horses were described as dangerous and unrideable and were not helped in the least by this method of training.

Chest line driving is an invaluable tool for helping horses overcome fears of things behind and around them.

Chest line driving is an invaluable tool for helping horses overcome fears of things behind and around them.  It is also an excellent way to show horses how they can begin to shift their weight while releasing their head and necks.

The idea of Changing posture to effect behavior is something we can achieve so easily from the ground with 5 steps of Tellington TTouch: Raising the back, lowering the head, Ear TTouch for trust, Tail TTouch to connect the whole horse, and Leg Circles for grounding and balance.  The changes we can get are so obvious and make for happy, successful horse and rider communication.

Showing Frederic some TTouches to help release the head and neck.

Showing Frederic some TTouches to help release the head and neck.

Teaching a weekend training when every word has to be translated is a challenge. I had to keep my explanations simple and as clear as possible so people could understand what my goals were.

There were 4 basic concepts I wanted to get across.

*You Must Change Your Mind in order to Change The Behavior of Your Horse.

* To Change Behavior You Must Change the Posture.

* Tellington TTouch Training teaches a horse to think instead of react instinctively by becoming aware of his body.

* “Spirit Go” – a concept Roland and I developed on this trip.

It’s time to Leave behind the 20th century belief that horses need to be dominated and can only learn when they are tired and submissive.  Adopt 21st Century Training methods that recognize the horse’s potential for learning and willingness to cooperate when they understand what you are asking.

Honoring the Spirit of the Horse –

Building trust –

Nurturing the instinctive bond of the herd –

Preserving the natural curiosity of the horse –

Resulting in the Ultimate Horse-Human Connection.

This concept is valid for all levels of training and riding,

From the beginning equestrian to the Olympic star.

The weekend also included a very special opportunity for 24 students to work in hand with Frederic; typically he only gives clinics once a year in Germany.  This opportunity to work with him can be life-changing.

24 students lucky enough to receive In-Hand instruction from Frederic.

24 students lucky enough to receive In-Hand instruction from Frederic.

What was so remarkable is how quiet – but present, and not bored the horses were as each one quietly waited their turn along the one side of the arena. Many times Fred would take one of the horses for a few moments and demonstrate how, with the slight shift of energy (as he calls it) the horse would respond to the slightest touch on the rein or body with the Spanish Walk or Side-pass. The goal was to establish a connection and a lightness that makes it look as though they were dancing. It was totally soothing, and inspiring to watch.

A quiet moment during the Milano Expo as Frederic connects with his stallion while doing Nostril Slides.

A quiet moment during the Milano Expo as Frederic connects with his stallion while doing Nostril Slides.

He spoke to the auditors at the end of my first day about the need to see this attitude of respect as coming from a place of LOVE. He explained that is a hard concept for many.  I then commented that there is said to be two emotions in our world: Love and Fear. Jerry Jompolski’s classic book, “Love Is Letting Go Of Fear” is a book I find helpful on this subject.

Frederic working with one of his stallions at home.  TTouches along the horses crest helped to encourage a more relaxed and balanced posture.

Frederic working with one of his stallions at home. TTouches along the horses crest helped to encourage a more relaxed and balanced posture.

To watch Frederic work with such deep respect and appreciation and a place of ‘no doubt” that the horse can do what he is asking was a concept we discussed several times over the weekend. This state of mind of “no doubt” he says is necessary for success. It is a pleasure to watch and describes a state of heart coherence where the horse wants to work with that person. And it fits perfectly with the Tellington TTouch of Trust, a way of being with horses in which the horse enjoys the connection as much as the handler or rider.

There was so much positive feedback from the auditors we have set a date for another weekend in Avignon for a Pignon/Delgado/Tellington weekend. Contact Monique Brognon<mbrognon@hotmail.com> if you would like to sign up for next September to get on a list to work with Frederic on the ground and Magali for a riding lesson.

 

 

 

© 2013, Linda Tellington-Jones. All rights reserved.

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