Horses have always been a passion for me, for as long as I can remember, so I was overjoyed when I discovered a way to bring them into my working life. I’d never heard of equine facilitated coaching before, but after taking redundancy, I decided to qualify as a coach, and found a programme that would enable me to train alongside the horses too. Transformational, or developmental, coaching is at the heart of everything that I deliver, whether working with horses or not.
So, what will horses teach you, whether for personal or professional development? Firstly, equine facilitated coaching and learning doesn't involve any riding, and you don't need any experience around horses. It's simply an experiential learning session using a horse which allows the process to be accelerated - think of each horse as an additional coach. It changes behaviours by creating learning that provides long term retention through a multi-sensory experience.
Horses are also extraordinary teachers of authentic leadership. Imagine the herd is your team. What happens when you take away rewards such as pay, bonuses, and the protection of an employment contract? What happens if your team members don’t need money to pay for mortgages, household bills, and food? Would they still be willing to accept you as a leader, or is it simply the job making them compliant? That’s exactly what you’ll find out when working with the horses.
As a human, you’re a natural predator, so it all starts with connection and trust. Seize the opportunity to drop into the space of "horse time". Away from the stresses and strains of daily life you are able to slow down, reflect and experience the power of real connection. Partnering with the horses, you will learn to:
Lead with your heart and not your head. All authentic leadership starts with a heartfelt connection and the horses are masters at letting us know how true we are being to ourselves
Show up as a compelling, inspiring leader or else the horse won't walk with you or cooperate with you. Do your actions reflect your intentions?
Be present, grounded and pay attention – stay in the present moment. If you don't the horse will simply ignore you
Experience the power of non-verbal communication and how it can influence others, and so impact your leadership effectiveness
Experience how emotions can disrupt your leadership
The great thing about learning leadership from horses is that you will learn how to synchronise your intention – mentally, emotionally and physically. You will also get unbiased, immediate feedback on your leadership style. And importantly if what you are doing isn't working you get the opportunity to recalibrate and try a different approach.
Working with horses demands that you be very clear in your leadership and communication both verbal and non-verbal. Horses do not understand words and therefore rely on reading body language and energy. You will experience how to align your energy in such a way that your leadership presence becomes clear and concise.
So if you’re ready to try a leadership development programme with a difference, then why not take part in “Transformational Leadership Development - with added HorsePower” in 2017? I’m working in collaboration with Business HorsePower, led by Julia Felton who has international experience in this field (yes, pun intended!). You can expect these outcomes from working with the masterful horse coaches:
Improve your ability to inspire, lead and motivate
Increase your courage to step out of your comfort zone and lead change
Understand your leadership style and impact on others
Develop more trust in yourself and others
Improve your relationship-building skills based on mutual trust
Have greater influence with your clients and in your business
Fine tune your communication skills to engage and inspire others