In October 2018, I took my horse, Pippin, to a clinic that I had spent 6 months organizing and anticipating. While the clinician was working with the previous rider, I was getting my horse warmed-up. In that warm-up, Pippin decided he didn’t want any part of this and tried very hard to throw me. I had one of those moments where I thought, “Oh my god, I’ve been waiting for this training session for so long and I’m going to start it by falling off.” I kept my seat though, and the session went well after all. I can’t imagine what the clinician had been thinking when seeing my horse try to buck me off was the first that he saw us.
Pippin is a sensitive horse that went through the sale at Sugar Creek before I bought him nearly 7 years ago. I don’t know much about him other than at 8 years old, he didn’t know how to lead, tie, groom, lunge, let alone carry a rider. I spent over a year physically rehabbing him and teaching him to do all of those things. Once he was green but able to be handled, I put him in dressage training and after 4 years, he was going really well in an indoor arena. I could take him to shows. He was tense outside, would randomly try to buck me off, and reared when he didn’t want to do something like go over a pole on the ground, but for the most part, did dressage work just fine. I just had to plan for good days with him and tiptoe around his opinions. I didn’t know how to deal with him any other way.
After a particularly difficult weekend at an adult amateur dressage camp that included mountain trail obstacle training in which Pippin took to rearing instead of moving forward, I knew we were needing something more in our training that was different than all the work we had done so far.
I had the opportunity to watch Andre Picou work with some green horses out of my barn so I talked to him about what I wanted with my horse, and he said he could help me. We agreed to a 20 session package. In the first five-plus sessions we focused on groundwork including both halter and lead work as well as round pen work. This allowed us to establish a pattern for communication between me and my horse, including a way of letting him know quickly and painlessly that he had responded incorrectly to my directions. I learned a lot about how my horse can instinctually read my body language in much the same way that horses communicate with each other. We started mounted work and I learned how to apply those same principles under saddle. When we started working outdoors, all the old troublesome behaviors came back allowing me to practice with Andre’s supervision the communication patterns that we had already established in a less stressful environment. By the end of the 20 sessions, I was able to ride my horse anywhere in whatever manner I wanted to. Andre taught me how and with that knowledge gave me the confidence to quickly and efficiently address when Pippin exhibits behaviors I don’t want. The more Pippin and I have to work through issues, the faster they get resolved as we are now establishing the pattern that Pippin does what I want because I am the alpha in this relationship.
And so, in October 2019, I went back to that same dressage clinic and had perfect rides on a wonderful horse. The clinician even commented on how Pippin had been "a villain" the year before. I told the dressage clinician about the work we had done since we had seen him last, and he agreed that it was a positive training development for my horse and me. He even talked a little bit about how in a horse and rider’s working relationship, a horse is much more secure in a submissive role to their rider as being the alpha is stressful for a horse.
I highly recommend Andre Picou’s horsemanship training program. This has enormously changed my relationship with my horse setting us up for many more years of enjoyment and success. I no longer feel limited to certain activities with my horse, and I feel confident that I can address problems as they arise. I also feel confident that I will put these same principles in practice when I purchase my next horse to establish the right relationship from the beginning.
October 27, 2019
What People Are Saying About Andre' Picou Horseman
h o r s e m a n
I met Andre at an equine clinic in May 2017 and since then he has helped me tremendously with my horses. I have been starting young horses under saddle for over 20 years now, professionally the last 10 years. I feel we are never too old to learn something new and the more tools in your toolbox the better equipped you are for what may come your way.
Over the past year I have been working with a particularly difficult mare, Sienna. She has been by far my toughest challenge. Through my interactions with Andre I have learned some valuable lessons that have proven effective with all of the horses I am currently working with, Sienna included.
He has a way of breaking things down simplistically and understandably. He has a patient approach which is important for both horse and rider. I have learned to look at each session with my horses in a methodical thought out way and go into each session with a plan and desired outcome. I often think back to what he has said, "Be as firm as necessary and gentle as possible. Reward the slightest try." This has really stuck with me and helped me to break things down more simply for my horses when I see them struggling to understand or becoming frustrated.
For the first time in the 2 years I have owned Sienna I am started to feel I have her respect. It has been a journey and it is not over. What I have gained from Andre Picou is invaluable to me as a horse owner/trainer. I will continue to work with him and learn all I can. I can not thank him enough for his time, patience and sharing all of his knowledge!
Owner/head trainer Ely Equine LLC