How a Horse Can Help You Learn Leadership Skills
January 8th 2021
Horses are amazing creatures, and they have much to teach us, including passion, patience, and trust. They can also help teach their handlers important leadership skills. At Collins Counselling, one of our areas of expertise is Equine Assisted Counselling, which we provide to clients in the Kamloops area.
Equine therapies can help teach valuable leadership skills, skills that translate into increased self-confidence, self-awareness, improved non-verbal communication, greater empathy, and much more. Read more about our clinical approach here.
Horses communicate through body language, and by working with horses in a therapeutic setting we are entering into their world and must learn their language and values. The responses and reactions of horses provide immediate information on our state of being now of interaction; this is how we begin to build self-awareness.
Five Ways Horses Working with Horses Teach Leadership Skills
1. Horses are experts at non-verbal communication.
- They pick up cues we do not even know we are providing. They can pick up whole-body communication and, over time, teach their handlers they will have more success if they say what they mean and mean what they say, with their whole body, verbally and non-verbally.
2. Horses respond to confident leaders.
The skills it takes to lead humans effectively are the same as it takes to have positive equine interactions. Horses respond best to confident, trustworthy leaders who provide clear direction and honest feedback. Equine activities foster opportunities to learn and grow in a safe space that translates naturally to work in the human world.
3. Horses teach that respect-based leadership beats fear-based leadership.
In the past, breaking a horse was the norm, but these days the equestrian community has shifted to a more respect-based approach. It has become apparent that horses react similarly to humans when faced with intimidating leaders – they detach. By respecting the horse, listening to the horse, and providing clear, consistent direction, your leadership will become apparent to the horse you are working with. Assertive energy is more effective than aggressive energy.
4. Horses are naturally emotionally intelligent.
Horses can feel our emotions. As we look in their eyes and connect with them physically, our awareness grows, and as we interact with the horse, our emotional intelligence grows, helping us understand and connect on a higher level.
5. Leadership is reciprocal.
With horses, there are only two roles: leader and follower. To work effectively with a horse, you must lead with confidence, kindness, and compassion. As a leader, you must always be aware of the needs of your entire herd. Leadership is a two-way street; your herd will give you feedback about your effectiveness as a leader, this is your opportunity to learn and do better. In the professional world, it is also important that someone take the lead, confidently but balanced with compassion, to operate effectively.
Horses provide a caring and safe environment for humans to heal, explore, and move forward in life. With the help of their gentle and intuitive understanding, we can make thoughtful and intentional changes that serve us in both our personal and professional lives. If you would like to learn more about the equine therapies we offer, reach out today.