Canter Banter

Gifts of the Horse - Day 1

Posted by Jake McLaren on Sep 29, 2017 10:41:50 AM

As a new employee in the Lodestone Leadership family we decided I must experience one of our leadership workshops first hand to fully appreciate what it is we do here.  On paper Lodestone Leadership offers leadership training using Equine Facilitated Learning (working with horses). The concepts taught were curated by Linda Kohonav, a best-selling author of The five roles of a Master Herder, an expert on EFL and founder of eponaquest.  My goals for this workshop were simple, get through it and pick up all the features and benefits I need to go out into the corporate community and effectively sell this service to business leaders.

To some extent we can dictate our experiences with our own expectations and preconceived notions of what we will take away from that experience.  Disappointment comes when our expectations are not met, and in turn, it is more satisfying when our expectations are exceeded.  What I learned in day one of this workshop was horses don't give a crap about your expectations. 

More about me

I am a 39-year-old, self employed, father of 3.  I volunteer in various groups and sports as a coach or team member.  I am also divorced.  So, when you look at this bio you can quickly identify my need for leadership training, any of these roles in my life can be greatly impacted by my ability to cultivate relationships and build relationships with my kids, co-workers, team and personal relationships.

Back to the workshop

The first day exercises revolved focused on our own comfort levels in relation to, personal space, anxiety, and fear. Having never been close to a horse without a barrier or fence of some kind, the idea of stepping into the round pen and being watched by my fellow participants was terrifying. I don't know what was scarier, standing faces to face with Acorn, who weighs in at a slender 1200lbs, or being watched by 5 relative strangers as attempt the very first exercise.

It all starts with a quick body scan, my hearts beating faster, my breathing is short, my back is tense.  Clear signs of my elevated anxiety level.  Once I become aware of this I can start to address it and control it, calming myself down.

The first exercise is to simple meet the horse, and develop some kind working relationship.  Within my group I saw several characteristics of many of my past bosses.  Some were in a hurry to just get to work, and others wanted to take it a little slower and develop a tight bond before getting to work.  My experience was a little hesitant to start, because I didn’t know what to expect.  Do I follow the example of the person before me, and try to lead the same way she did, or do it my way? In the end I reverted to my comfort zone as a Dominant leader and stood my ground when Acorn tried to push me around.

Did I learn anything from this? 

I learned that when we are faced with uncertainty we fall into our comfort zone and fall back into our tried and true methods.  Armed with this knowledge in day two I plan on exploring other leadership methods and fight the urge to be dominant.

Topics: Linda Kohanov, Five Roles of Leadership, Leadership, Gifts of the Horse

Welcome to Canter Banter

A place of discussion and learning for all those interested in Equine Facilitated Learning

At Lodestone Leadership we take leadership training out of the lecture hall and into the arena. Step into the round pen with your 3000lb training partner, and witness first hand how your emotions and body language impact those around you.  

The Five Roles of Leadership

  • Dominant

  • Nurturer/Companion

  • Leader

  • Sentinel

  • Predator

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