Other than Riding… Value Added Time with your Horse.

I’d love for you to watch this amazing video of this French man and his horses. All of this is at liberty. All of it is very amazing.

Click on image to watch the video

Did you watch it? Cool, huh? Don’t you wish that you could have that kind of a relationship with your horse(s)?  I know I do.

This is my topic for today… If you wish it, you can probably find it.  You just gotta make it happen.


I totally hear you.  I understand.  But, I don’t agree and here’s why…

Most of us think that the only good part or fun part about the horse is riding.  And, here is where I think we miss out.  This is like spending time with your friends only during a meal or only in class or only at a party — as if all other activities have no other information to provide us.


It just isn’t that cut and dry.  Horses are not one-dimensional animals.  They are robust, just like we are and just like our dogs or cats.  Do you only relate to your dog when he is on a leash?  Or to your cat only when he is kneading your legs?  Probably not.  You see, horses have much to say and much to give.  But what they have to say and give is kinda hard to pick up when you are only on their backs or getting them ready for you to be on their backs…

Am I making any sense?

You do have time to relate to your horse in another way other than riding.  How?  Well, if you absolutely only have enough time to ride every so often, then don’t ride every time you go see your horse.  Do something else with your horse…  I guarantee your next ride will be better.


OK, you are all probably a little peeved with me right now.  So let me explain.  I’m on your side.  I know how hard it is to spend quality time with your horse, especially if you board them.  I can relate.  I have that trouble and all mine live right hereWhat I’m saying is that the bond that this man has with his horses is obtainable for you and your horse.  You just have to figure out a way to make the time to explore this.  Because, truth to tell, the horse wants to buddy-up.  If that wasn’t true, they wouldn’t run in herds, they wouldn’t find a friend everywhere they went and for certain, this man in the video could not have “tamed” five unique, 1000 lbs horses to do his bidding.

So, back to the video.  The man in the video is named, Jean-François Pignon.  He is French.  Since 1993, he had been working with his horses.  Out of that begot his show.  Yes, he entertains humans doing live equestrian shows across Europe.  The Show happened after he came up with all of this stuff to do with his horses, if you know what I mean.  Here is a guy whose job is truly what he loves to do.

Now, I’m guessing Jean-Francois has what we not-as-gifted refer to as a “natural gift”.

Could be an excuse, dunno.  But, I’m also sure that he works with his horses often.  I’m pretty sure he makes time in his daily life to hang with his buddies — not just ride them — every day.    I mean, if he only rode his horses, he wouldn’t be able to have them lay all around him on the beach.  He must have done that a few times before…   And, I’m absolutely positive that he knows his horses, inside and out,  very very well.

My personal fav... love this one!

How do you get to know your horses very, very well?  Invest time on the ground doing oddball (to most folks) stuff.  Get to know them like you would get to know a new friend.  Hang together.  Feel each other out.  Learn what makes you both feel serene and what upsets you.  Get into some tough spots together… Be there for each other.  Simply said, you have to let the horse know that you are his leader and his friend.  You’ll protect him so he can relax around you and be himself.  The same thing you do with your human friends…


Well, I could be whacked.  But, I too, long ago, wished to have a better relationship with my horses.  I didn’t really know how to go about it.  And then my husband left.  I was devastated and I didn’t know what to do with myself.  So, I went to the barn.  A lot.  I stayed with my horses so much that people started talking.  I walked my pregnant mare through the woods, I walked my babies around the ranch, I played with my geldings, I talked to the mares and told them all about it, I groomed them endlessly, I took them to the mailbox, I let them watch as I made shoddy repairs around the place… I did just about everything with them because I was too embarrassed to let everyone know how deeply ruined I was about the divorce.

The more I hung around with my horses, the more happy they were to see me.  The more time we shared, the more they listened to me.  The more time I spent, the more I listened to them — without even realizing it.  Because I was so desperate, I forgot all the other stuff that surrounds a human when they are with horses — fear, dominance, shoulds, gottas….   I was just with them and they were with me.

And, something odd happened…  I had become totally confident around them.  Me, the neophyte horse owner, got a crash course in horse psychology 101 and I didn’t even sign up!  I threw myself into the herd like one throws themselves into a tribe in New Guinea.  If you survive, you’ve learned a lifetimes worth of lessons.  And so, luckily and happily, the demise of my marriage became the phoenix of my horsemanship.

Lo and behold, a few years later when it was time to teach the now grown filly to ride, I had no fear.  I knew her.  She knew me.  We were just going to do something different on that day.  And, I had an epiphany.  My spending fluff time doing anything but riding with my horses made me a much wiser and more confident rider.  To this day, those core horses that lived through my divorce with me are still my most trusted and nurturing horses.

BUT I HAVE NO TIME – Yup, me neither…

Many years later, I have much less time.  I’m like you.  I tell myself that I have no time to hang with my newer horses on a daily basis.  I’m kinda ashamed of myself because I know better.  I back burner the intimacy part.

After watching the video I realized the pit I’ve fallen into.  So, I made a pact with myself.  I told myself that I would do something intimate with at least one of my horses every day.  Ugh.  I’ve said it outloud and now you all have heard me.  Yup.  I’m going to challenge myself to do what I know works and what I also know will be very difficult given my mindset of work/home/hubby/activities first.  Anyway, it doesn’t have to be huge, just personal.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

In the meantime, my thoughts for you who want a relationship with your horse similar to Jean-Fracoise, don’t do what I am doing presently (nothing but riding), do what I did during my divorce.   If you are not close with your horse or don’t have a “bond” or have some fear around your horse — try letting yourself off of the riding hook and relaxing into “being” with your horse..  I’m not saying that you will decide that this horse is the best thing since sliced bread, but you may understand him better and like him more.  And, he might decide he likes you more, too…

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HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

5 comments have been posted...

  1. Elbe

    I am so on the same page as you. You wrote a beautiful story and I hope it reaches many horse owners. I started with Natural Horsemanship 6 years ago and what an amazing journey. My four horses are a passionate part of my life. I do lots and lots of wonderful liberty work with them and are blessed with what they have taught me. Currently I am going through a very troubled time in my marriage and if it wasnt for my horses I dont thinkI would cope.

    A few months ago I discovered the work of JF Pignon and I was mesmerized. I have searched the internet for info on his methods but cant find much. I have seen some on youtube but wants more. Do you know where I can find more in-depth information on his method? Please help.

  2. Nola Ross

    these are lucky horses to be so loved. wish all horses could feel this. and I wish I had a horse. I need somone to talk to.

  3. Mary Ann Kennedy

    I truly get this..and try to live it most days
    i am single..have 10 equines..and lots to care for
    nurturing..being with them every day…not just ‘training’ or ‘playing’ but being with them
    as a leader and one who nurtures..changes the relationshipships
    they know you care…of course knowing how to communicate through their language is huge too

    true horse lovers are born..not made..but we can sure keep gettin better for em
    thanks for more inspiration !

  4. Jane Howard

    I am now to the point that playing at liberty is as much fun or maybe even more than riding. I couldn’t agree with your philosophy more.

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