The first question colleagues would ask upon arrival is, “what is the mood like today?”, and from there we would know whether to keep our heads down or present our new ideas.
One of the things people value most in a leader is consistent behavior. It is also one of the lessons all of our clients learn during the training they receive through HorseDream Canada.
If they are not consistent with their actions, they will experience very poor results from their horse in equine assisted learning.
You need to stay consistent and clear with your intentions when you approach a horse, or the contact will not go at all as you expect. If you do not provide consistent leadership in a calm and clear manner, then the horse will just take over and in effect, rewrite the exercise for you.
Because they are originally animals of prey, the horse gauges all its behaviors on the instant feedback it receives. If the messages reaching the horse are confusing and erratic, it will not respond well. If you want it to come forward, it will move back. If you want it to follow you, it will ignore you or simply move away.
This kind of exercise that plays out in so many different ways contributes greatly to our body of knowledge about how leadership skills can be learned effectively by working with horses.
At the basis of our leadership exercises with horses is the knowledge that just like us, horses are essentially herd animals. Humans move to cities where they can share services like policing and firefighting and government to stay safe and survive easier than if they maintain their existence alone in the wilderness.
We join herds in our places of business, so that we can ensure our economic survival. We follow leaders when that behavior is advantageous to us. When it is not, we rebel by either causing conflict with the leader, or by leaving the company.
As leadership in our companies gets flatter, and the industrial revolution age concept of one hierarchal leader with hundreds of followers fades into the history of labor; we still acknowledge that there is a place in our herd for a leader. They must be consistent in protecting all of our interests, or we will reject them.
Horses do not select the leaders of their herd that have the most university degrees, the most experience or the biggest, loudest, most aggressive attitude. Instead, they follow leaders who consistently demonstrate that they have the wisdom and energy to lead, and are clearly protecting the interests of the herd.
When people interact with horses and try to lead them, if they forget how the horse responds to leaders, it is at their peril. If they are insistent with their demands, if their actions and body language do not send the same message as their commands, the horse is confused. They do not see you as the person to lead them.
When you develop the skills you need to lead your team, you will find that the horse becomes increasingly comfortable with you as leader. In its own way, it is giving you feedback when it senses you need it. When you consistently lead, the horse, and more importantly your team, will follow.
HorseDream Canada, founded by Susan Wilson, provides high impact, quality leadership and team development experiences for individuals, teams, leaders and companies. It is part of an internationally renowned Horse Assisted Education Program providing transformative learning experiences around the world. HorseDream Canada is a division of I DO BUSINESS. Inc., a social purpose business. For more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Watch for our new book, Leadership 93/7 coming soon!