For several years, my wife and I spent many weekends watching our children ride and play with horses. I observed that the principles they applied in horsemanship and the leadership principles I was studying were basically the same, and this inspired me to put this article together.
I discovered three main principles that applied both to horsemanship and leadership, they are: relationship, communication and leadership.
Now, I am not a horse expert, so I decided to interview Michael Alway, an experienced horsemanship instructor. Michael is the owner and founder of Alway Horsemanship in Berryville, VA. Their vision is: “making the world a better place for horses and humans.”
Question – Michael, are humans able to establish a relationship with horses?
Answer – “Horses by nature perceive people as predators. However, we can earn horses’ trust and respect. We then are able to start a relationship and develop that into a partnership!”
Can you see that key? The relationship starts when you earn the horse’s trust, and that is how it works with people too.
Now, our intention here is not to compare people with horses… We will see the similarities in the leadership principles that we apply both with people and with horses. So, if we are in a leadership position, how are we perceived by others? Do we seek to earn their trust and respect and to build a relationship that can develop into a partnership as described by Michael?
Relationships are the foundation to good leadership. If you want to be successful in business, in your personal relationships and pretty much in every area of life, you must develop good people relationships.
Question – Michael, how do you establish the relationship with your horse?
Answer – “It is important to understand the needs of a horse: safety, comfort, play and food. If we understand and put these things first, the horse will do almost anything for us!”
I see that you basically put the needs of the horse first. We also must put the needs of others first to be effective leaders. I encourage you to ask yourselves the following two questions:
What gifts have I received that I can use to meet the needs of others?
What do I really love to do?
When you discover your gifts and you start doing what you really love to do, you will feel better equipped and motivated to meet the needs of others.
Question – Michael: how do you establish the connection with your horse?
Answer – “There are multiple places and ways that a horse is influenced. First, they notice you, then they are influenced to either accept you and draw or to run away. If we understand and respect their thresholds and teach them to have confidence with us, they will soon want to be in harmony with us! If we approach horses correctly with this feel, they will connect like a foal does with its mother… this is the natural thing for them to do!”
[To be continued]
Coming soon “Horsemanship and Leadership, Making the Connection” – Workshop November 4th – 10:30 AM to 3:00 PM – Berryville, VA
In this workshop we will discover leadership lessons found in the art of horsemanship. With demonstrations and practical exercises with real horses, we will help you become a better leader in any area of life. No horse riding experience needed.