Gallop to Freedom

Training Horses with Our Six Golden Principles

Frédéric Pignon and Magali Delgado


When Cavalia—the amazing equestrian-themed “spectacular,” melding costumes and theatrics with stunt riding and haute école—first took North America by storm in 2003, few people knew who Frédéric Pignon and Magali Delgado were. But the whole world was soon abuzz with talk of the magical display these two remarkable individuals provided their audience—whether horse-crazy or layperson, none could walk away unaffected by the powerful connection they demonstrated with their unparalleled cast of beautiful horses.

Now in this remarkable book, Frédéric—a specialist in liberty and ground work—and Magali—a talented dressage rider at the Grand Prix level—combine efforts and share the secrets of the breathtaking relationships they have cultivated over the course of their lives with horses. They tell the story of Templado—the gorgeous but rebellious stallion who demanded they question all they had learned as horsemen and look at, in a whole new light, what it means to train horses. It was this tempestuous character that taught them that the process of building a relationship with a horse can be on more equal footing than most would dream possible.

It is with this life-altering lesson in mind that Frédéric and Magali now explain their Six Golden Principles. These include how you can become a “safe haven”—the most important being in your horse’s life—while ensuring he gets the leadership he craves and deserves. And, how to establish acceptable limits of behavior, as well as respect, without ever succumbing to anger or using force. They describe how to read horse behavior so you can better understand and communicate with your equine partner as an “individual.” Plus, you’ll see what it means to be patient and “give your horse a say” in his own training—and just how rewarding the results can be.

In a chapter devoted to their practical approach, you’ll explore what is perhaps most central to their methods: the idea of “play” and how games can be used to develop a horse’s intelligence, confidence, and desire to perform, whether at liberty or in the most difficult of competitive environments. Magali shares the example of her Grand Prix mount Dao, with whom she has reached the pinnacle of European competition, and whom dressage judges praise for his supple and stress-free performances.

Both Frédéric and Magali once thought they had become skilled and compassionate riders and trainers, but found that the monumental challenges presented by Templado turned their beliefs upside down and made them start again from the beginning. They now view their work with horses as a journey of endless discovery and infinite rewards. With this book, full of phenomenal color photographs of their horses, many of whom appeared in the show that first made them famous, you can join—and learn from—them. 

Additional Information

Author: Frédéric Pignon and Magali Delgado

Format: Paperback

Page Count: 192

Illustrations: 187 color photos

ISBN: 9781570769754

By Frédéric Pignon and Magali Delgado

Frédéric Pignon and Magali Delgado were both born to horse-loving parents in the south of France. They both developed quite radical ideas about the treatment of horses and when they married in 2003 it was as if they had been made for one another. Horses became their passion and their family.

An extraordinary Lusitano stallion, Templado, entered their lives and showed them that they had not only much to learn about horses but much to “unlearn.” The only way to tame this uncompromising but beautiful and talented horse was to go along with his wishes. This “reversal of roles” is now the key to their approach, the success of which has been illustrated by Frédéric’s ability to perform in front of huge audiences with up to six loose stallions, and by Magali, who, with her horse Dao, has reached the summit of European dressage competition.

Frédéric and Magali were the founders of Cavalia, along with Normand Latourelle, which toured the United States and European capitals from 2004 to 2009 playing to more than two million spectators. In addition they have worked with such leading figures as Corky Randall (trainer for the legendary film The Black Stallion), Don Manuel Vidrié Gómez of the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, and Linda Tellington-Jones (who gives them a glowing tribute in this book). When not performing, Frédéric and Magali live in France on their family’s breeding farm, raising horses in accordance with their principles. It would indeed be surprising if we do not soon hear about new exploits of this remarkable duo.

Horse Country Says:

“Readers will surely be impressed.”

California Riding Says:

“The more you read this book and reflect on the principles it puts forth, the more valuable you will find it.”