As I expect you know by now, TTouch came into being because I learned to trust my intuition way back in the 1960’s. This came as a result of a computer-generated astrological chart that stated that in my lifetime I would develop a new form of communication that would spread around the world. It was made clear to me that in order to develop this communication I would have to learn to trust my intuition. I’ve been practicing and listening to those aha! moments and intuitive directions since that very day.
So, out of the blue, on the 6th of January I began to get a strong sense that I should fly to southern France to spend a few days with my friends, Magali Delgado and Frédéric Pignon.
Three days later I flew from Kona to San Francisco, bedded down for the night in a hotel, and flew over the pole the next day to Frankfurt, Germany and on to Marseille, France, where Frédéric picked me up at the airport. We made it back over snowy roads in time for his rehearsal in the main arena at midnight with the six stallions Fred had brought for his 16-minute performance as a main attraction of Cheval Passion.
Throughout the five days as I watched every show, I was repeatedly impressed with Fred’s dedication to his horses and his unique interspecies connection.
The word unique has various definitions, but I use it as, different from others in a way that makes something worthy of note.
For those of you who have not had the opportunity to see Frédéric work I will attempt to explain what impresses me so much. His hands-on approach and quiet communication with the stallions is wonderful to observe. A quote from Frédéric and Magali’s new book, Gallop to Freedom (which is Amazon’s best-selling horse book) perhaps gives you a clue to the approach:
Frederic Pignon and Magali Delgado achieved their present esteemed reputation in the horse world despite coming from an unusual direction: that of the artistic theatrics of the equine “spectacular.”. ….This book is not another manual on horsemanship. They chose a writer who could “express the philosophy, the beliefs, the emotion, and the passion behind their approach”…. Their aim is to further the understanding of how our two species communicate and to use that knowledge for the good of the horse, as much as for our own pleasure and satisfaction.
When Fred works the stallions together in a show, or slips onto the bare back of a bitless buckskin and quietly performs piaffe and passage, giving the impression of a centaur – horse and manappearing as one – a hush falls over the audience, as though a magical spell has been cast. When other performers do free work with multiple stallions, confined by the low sides of the traditional circus, the horseshave their heads tied down with side-reins and their mouths firmly held shut with tight drop nosebands so they cannot bite each other.
Frédéric’s stallions, on the other hand, have no restraint on their heads or mouths. One of the many favorite moments in the Pignon show is after the two young Friesian stallions have worked at liberty – and then run and played around the huge stadium – they came back to Fred and vigorously scratched each other’s withers. They looked as though they were out in a pasture, enjoying themselves, while Fred sat quietly on the sand, emphasizing for the audience the sense of freedom these two young stallions enjoy.
Cheval Passion was the first show of the year. Loosely translated, it means “a passion for horses,” and I thoroughly enjoyed the passion for horses I experienced this week. The weather was colder than usual this year, with ice and snow on the ground the day I arrived. The horses had to stay in a temporary stable at the expo grounds where there was the hectic bustle of trucks and horses moving outside the barn. Fred’s horses didn’t sleep as well as they do at home, and they were missing the hours of turnout they were used to, so it gave me a lovely excuse to get my hands on some of them.
Spending the week at this expo was an unexpected vacation for me. I especially loved the friendly feeling of the visitors, vendors, performers and competitors. Cheval Passion is a combination of trade show, exhibits, artistic evening horse performances and lots of amateur competition.
I saw “Horse ball” (basketball on horseback) for the first time, and I enjoyed watching the pole bending and barrel racing. There were none of the crazed, hot horses refusing to enter the arena that I’ve seen too often in North America. And I got much pleasure out of seeing middle aged men, clearly amateurs, mixing in with the teen-age girls and women on their Appaloosas, Paints and Quarter Horses, decked out in orange saddle pads, bell boots and matching shirts, rewarding their horses with resounding pats at the finish. It was an enchanting feeling of camaraderie, wonderful characters, and a huge variety of horses. And the majority of horses actually seemed to enjoy themselves!
600 horses were gathered for this 25th year of the Cheval Passion exhibition. Imagine this typical scene. A guy standing around on his horse, bridleless and bareback, leading one horse with a buckskin gelding just following. That buckskin stood so still it looked like he was glued to the spot and I was charmed by his interest and friendliness with everyone who stopped to say hello and pet him.
Although I studied French for four years in high school in Canada and took several semesters at UCLA in the late 1950’s, I have almost lost it all. Since I couldn’t speak French, I couldn’t help out much in the Pignon/Delgado booth. However, I had a great time sharing TTouch in the booth for both humans and kitties. Two young women who had cats who clearly could benefit from TTouch were visiting Fred and Magali and one of them, a Belgian, I had met the week before on Facebook!
This was one of the most fun weeks of vacation imaginable for me.
Of course I enjoyed getting my hands on my favorite buckskin stallion, Gracil. The first day of the expo he was standing in his stall with his head up and back tight – that typical look a horse can get at a show or event when he isn’t getting the rest he’s used to.
Watching Gracil with Fred is such a pleasure because he is used to having hands all over his body, and standing very focused and still, sometimes with his head against Fred’s chest, which has established an unusual bond between them. All of Fred’s horses enjoy such quiet, still moments. I believe this is one of the secrets to successful cooperation without domination that is one of Fred’s gifts.
I began with Gracil the first day beginning with Back Lifts to lower his head so his breathing would deepen and he could begin to relax. I followed this with lots of slow Lick of the Cow’s Tongue, an excellent exercise to loosen a horse up before or after work. With frequent Back Lifts between, Gracil’s posture changed, his neck remained almost level and his eyes began to soften. I interspersed these TTouches with Neck Rocking, Octopus, Tail TTouches, finishing with Hair Slides on the forelock and Ear TTouches. All of these TTouches help a horse to relax at a horseshow or event where rest and sleep deprivation can negatively affect performance.
On the evening just before the show I would do a little faster Lick of the Cow’s Tongue to wake Gracil up and prepare him for the performance. He seemed to enjoy the sessions and it certainly helped him to deal with the stress of performing with Frederic in front of thousands of people each evening.
I’m so glad I trusted my intuition and went to France to visit with Magali and Frédéric, where I witnessed such loving interactions between horses and people.