Saddle Up for the U.S. Tour of Horsemanship Through Leadership –
The Mind, Body and Spirit of Connection
By Lara Wilson
Asheville, NC – A life-changing opportunity for horse lovers and riders of all disciplines is coming to America in 2017. For the first time in this country, equine experiential learning director and facilitator Barbara Alexander offers an unprecedented workshop opportunity, Horsemanship Through Leadership: the Mind, Body and Spirit of Connection. Barbara designed the program in collaboration with Frédéric Pignon and Magali Delgado, original stars and co-founders of the equestrian spectacular, Cavalia, which enthralled over two million spectators worldwide from 2004 to 2009 as well as their recent European show, EQI: Cheval Libre. These limited-engagement workshops afford the rare privilege to learn profound and unique skills with horses through Barbara’s illuminating techniques of energy awareness, extraordinary liberty work with Frédéric, and intuitive skills under saddle with Magali.
Groundbreaking in its field, Horsemanship Through Leadership, The Mind, Body and Spirit of Connection reflects the trio’s dedication to the well-being and individual nature of all concerned, human and horse. Their unique methodology incorporates a flexible, mindful, open-hearted approach: being in the present moment to make discoveries without judgment or expectation. By cultivating inner balance, patience and understanding, participants learn how to invite horses to willingly interact as partners. Not only does this intuitive work facilitate an unparalleled connection with the horse, it also cultivates a deep understanding of the self.
Since childhood, Frédéric Pignon has devoted his life to comprehending and honoring the silent language of horses. His deep respect for and love of these animals sparked a natural fluency. Horses want to converse with Frédéric. They respond to his warm smile and gentle clarity with a palpable eagerness to interact. Far from a practice of coercion, Frédéric’s liberty work is predicated on the desire to play. It may seem that the horses’ movements at liberty are choreographed, he explains, but their reactions are actually spontaneous. With this type of work, it is imperative to be kind, clear and aware. Particularly with stallions, Frédéric must be absolutely present at every moment since his requests are not always accepted. He continually senses each horse’s mood at liberty, knowing precisely when to ask the horse to perform and when to release the connection so the horse can gallop freely with a playful buck. At times it seems Frédéric carries a magic wand. Six Arabian horses elegantly spin and dance around him in a field, sand arena, or before hundreds of spectators. Stallions rear up in levade inches from his face, then canter off only to return to place a gentle kiss on his jaw. Yet, Fred takes little credit for these amazing feats. “I’m not a horse whisperer,” he says. “The horses are whispering to me.” Frédéric will share his philosophy and skills during the Horsemanship Through Leadership workshop through demonstrations with local horses for auditors and students from around the country.
Magali Delgado equally appreciates the horses’ need to express themselves and engage in play. Growing up on a breeding farm in southern France, Magali spent her life learning the way of the horse. Those lucky enough to have seen the original Cavalia will recall the spell-binding sight of Magali performing advanced dressage movements with nothing but a cord around her stallion’s neck. Equally memorable was her humbleness and devotion to her equine partner, whom she graciously credited before the audience. Those who’ve studied with Magali have been moved by her heartfelt encouragement as well as the gentleness and sensitivity of her stallions. As a trainer, Magali has a special gift of combining clarity, flexibility and fun. She truly thinks outside of the box stall to problem-solve with horses. During the show season, a particular stallion felt nervous whenever the audience applauded, so she incorporated his favorite toy into their act: an enormous exercise ball. Few riders could stay on a stallion who’s embracing and circling a huge ball, but Magali does it with an amused smile. Her horses perform joyfully, even gratefully. Years ago, after placing second in a high-level European dressage competition, Frédéric persuaded the judges to watch Magali and her stallion perform all the movements without tack, just the cord around the horse’s proud neck. Not only did the crowd love her, the astonished European judges acknowledged that it is a rare rider who can achieve this intense, natural connection with a horse. For seasoned riders or those new to the equestrian world, the enlightening practices Magali generously shares will transform the way you think about horses.
Barbara Alexander’s experiential training powerfully enhances the magnitude of this work. After a successful global corporate career, Barbara established a leadership consultancy that provides practical training and tools for personal success through equine experiential learning. She believes that great leadership arises from the energetic presence of confidence and trust. In order to truly gain confidence with humans or horses, a leader must learn to be trustworthy inside and out. With Barbara’s guidance, students develop the courage to embrace vulnerability and open new doors that allow for greater authenticity. Her distinctive methods encourage every individual to find the keys to their own brilliance and joy. “Horses help us discover leadership strengths and gaps from a place that’s genuine and intuitive,” she says. “When we are fully present with others in this way, we create an environment for harmonious synchronization, creativity and inspiration.” According to Barbara, leadership isn’t about the position we hold, it is about the way we choose to live our life in relationship with others. Her methodologies have inspired hundreds of women to enhance their lives, overall well-being, and relationships – both human and equine. The implication of this important work extends far beyond a sand arena. The personal fulfillment gained from Horsemanship Through Leadership will inspire a true awakening that changes the way you approach every life decision.
Horsemanship Through Leadership: the Mind, Body and Spirit of Connection is a rare, limited-engagement program in the U.S. that may not extend beyond 2017. If interested, please enroll without delay. For a list of dates and locations, go to Barbarainc.com
Direct link to event:
Credit: Photo by Gabriele Boiselle from Building a Life Together
Credit: Nancy Bruen Smith. Aiken Equestrian Media