Seeing as it’s Thursday, I thought I’d share a little Thursday Throwback with you;
My shoot with world reknowned natural horseman, Jean-François Pignon
This is, without doubt, one of my favourite moments in my career so far. It was such a huge honour for Jean-François to take time out of his busy schedule and agree to meet with me, for a shoot on the river bank, at the beautiful Royal Windsor Horse Show, back in 2013.
JFP speaks very little English and I speak very little French, so, as you can imagine, our communications were limited and humorous, but we managed, with a lot of confused grins, a fair bit of miming and a good number of ‘smile-and-nods’.
I met with Jean-François, after breakfast, at the temporary stabling, ‘backstage’ at Windsor and within five minutes of arriving, he opened his five stable doors, releasing his seven horses, including his Spanish stallion, Tiego, two mares, with foals at foot and one very awesome little Shetland, called Petit Coeur (Little Heart).
Once he’d corralled them all into some semblance of order, off he went, strolling down the road, toward the river, seven horses following him as if he were the pied piper, oblivious of the stares he was receiving from everybody around us. I stood, jaw dropped, watching and marvelling at the fact that he not only had total control over his horses in an arena, but also loose, in public!
I followed a few steps behind wondering if perhaps a headcollar might have been a good idea. But what do I know?!
Once we reached the river bank, he asked what I wanted him to do. To be honest, I was a little dumbstruck and I think I kind of mumbled some unintelligible version of ‘Erm, I don’t know. Do whatever you like.’ I wanted to see his relationship with his horses in it’s purest form, without interference from me. So, that’s what he did.
And it. Was. Breathtaking!
It’s one thing seeing this performance from the stands at Olympia or HOYS, for example, but it’s another thing entirely to have a front row seat and to (kind of, baring in mind the language barrier) chat to him while he does it. I was moved to tears quite a few times. His horses absolutely adore him!
Following the shoot, Jean-François was extremely accommodating and kindly answered a few of my questions, via email. So, I’ll let the man himself do the rest of the talking.
How did you get involved with horses initially and how did you find out you could do the things you do?
Horses arrived in my life when I was 9 years old, because my father always loved horses. Regarding the work release, I started after school when I went to see my mare Gazelle. I did not have time to brush her, because it was dark too early, so I just played with her every day for fun.
Tell us about your horses.
Actually I have 14 horses. 11 come to shows:
Petit Coer (mini Shetland), Hisis (partbred Halflinger), Gazelle (Camargue), Lais & Riviere (mare and foal), Aziel, Azaria & Spirit (mare and foal), Kiowa & Xena (mare and foal) and Tiego (Spanish stallion)
And 3 stay at home:
Baila, Salza, and Malik
How do you find your horses and what do you look for in the horses that you take around the world to perform with you?
Since I believe in God, rather than choose my horses, I take what comes to me. I just always wanted to recreate a real-life herd, with mares and foals, that evolve together.
Have you ever had a horse who you could not work with?
No, thanks to God.
What are your hopes for the future?
To change the world and make it clear to people that loving each other is an order left to us.
What tips do you have for young riders who admire you and want to build a strong relationship with their horse?
The horse can be a good means to get together and have some fun.
What one thing could you not live without?
My heart beating regularly. 😉
Yes, that’s right, it seems that JFP is quite the little joker. And he uses emoticons! But on a serious note, what an inspirational horseman and it was such a blessing to be able to see him at work in such close proximity. And it was such a pleasure to meet his beautiful herd.
Did I ever mention that I love my job?! 😀
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