I once worked for a brilliant conservation charity that was particularly good at putting staff on courses to improve company performance. These courses were fun days where we usually covered a bit of theory and then did some role play to cement the learning.
A few years later I found myself in a much larger organisation that had access to a vast number of leadership and performance courses, yet still struggled with basic communication and cohesion.
This situation sparked my curiosity. I used to ask myself, what would turn this organisation around? What would get to the root of the issue and make it successful? What could feedback instantly the most effective approach so that people could build on success rather than repeat failure?
The only way I knew how to experience such direct learning with the hard hitting feedback necessary was to partner with horses.
Having been a horse owner all my life and having experienced classroom learning, I realised there was something horses teach that no classroom or role play scenario can replicate.
Think outside the box
This isn't a dig at classroom learning, I once did a brilliant time management course and I could only imagine learning that best in a classroom. Instead this is about encouraging people to think outside the box when it comes to choosing training and solving organisational issues.
Think about where you get your best, most creative ideas. I bet it's when your mind is busy doing something else like cooking, talking to a friend, playing music or going for a walk. For me I get my best ideas during meditation, time with horses, swimming, in my dreams and Reiki.
I'll be honest, I don't remember much about this 2004 training course aside from the sweets on the table and a group exercise to lower a wooden pole. If I was a training purchaser spending my company's hard-earned money on improving staff, I'd definitely want a greater take home than that!
Yet I remember exactly how I felt the moment I arrived for my first Equine Facilitated session in 2010. I remember what it felt like to watch the horses gallop around the arena and how I was moved to tears at how quiet yet assertive the lead mare was. I remember vividly how I, someone who typically had a crushingly low opinion of myself, recognised my own quiet assertion in that moment and realised I wasn't wrong for wanting to get on with the job of being a leader quietly, effectively without having to shout about it.
In that moment, I felt seen and I felt validated (thank you Prudence).
That is the impact of Equine Facilitated Learning. It hits deep and it hits hard, and it changes lives.
Sessions with a 400kg+ animal with its own thoughts and opinions tend to be an impactful and memorable experience. The learning is real-time, confidence building and insightful. Each interaction provides the chance to try an approach, receive the feedback and if necessary change something and try again.
The horses will tell you if you're on the money. They have no agenda other than leadership excellence!
I didn't invent this approach, I would have to say horses did. They've been partnering with us for thousands of years and they are still partnering with us now - showing us how we can perform better and better look after ourselves.
Even if you think "I don't like horses", you will by the time you stop and listen to their wisdom. It is hard not to, when they gift us so much.
Want to learn about this approach first hand? Our Networking sessions offer a chance to experience this work and understand it's potential.
Our next networking and taster event is on Fri 21st October. We attract participants from all over the south east (of England) and provide a relaxed opportunity for you to spend a morning working on your business rather than in your business.
Already there is a lovely group forming. We'd love you to join us.