H.E.L.P.: Horses Evoke Leadership Processes

3-20-2015 10-56-11 AMYippee-Yi-Aye! Spring is here! I don’t know about you, but for some reason this winter has seemed like a long one to me. The unearthing of a yellow lily and purple hyacinth has brought me amazing encouragement.

The word “HELP” keeps coming to mind, along with the question, “How do horses help humans?” Horses evoke processes within humans. Leadership processes to be exact, since they are true followers. The word “evoke” means “to call to mind, suggest, remind or to stir up.” Thus, Horses Evoke Leadership Processes.

How many times have you heard or said, “I’m processing that?” Simply, you have come up with a procedure, course, and some method, course of action or development. Each of us desires to achieve a positive outcome in the process (like a flower after winter). The beauty of increased hope, confidence, and a calm/focused relationship between horse and human are a few reflections of this process.

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I remember coming up with a plan of action to help a young grandson learn his alphabet. There was quite a lot of resistance on his part due to an attitude of “It’s just so hard!” Out in the barn, I hid index cards that had one letter written on each one. “A-Z” and “a-z” cards were placed throughout six box stalls, a grain room, a tack room, a wash rack, alleyway and two tie-stalls. Each time Evan identified the requested letter, I clipped a clothespin to his tee. The fun outweighed the hindering mind-set. The clothespins were counted, and a trip to Toys-r-Us scheduled. Evan, now almost fourteen years old, remembers that moment. He said, “Mamaw makes learning fun!” And this, dear NEIGHbor, is what we want to have with our horses; a relationship that makes it fun for the horse AND you to learn.

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Questions are asked during the learning stage, and horses are constantly asking questions, too! How they react tells us what answers they are getting. We call this “mirroring.”
There is no such thing as a “hard mouth” horse. There are horses with dull minds, however, who are shut down to survive. If horses are handled “unconsciously” for a period of time, they become dull. We want to keep our horses asking questions, not becoming less and less sensitive. We keep our horses sensitive when we practice relational leadership skills such as focus, feel and timing.
Horses benefit when time and space are provided to relax, play, and chill with their friends. So it is with humans! In fact, horses prefer fun above food!
When a leader chooses to be particular and progressive without being critical with their horse, something organic occurs. It begins with a bond that transcends into being focused, and then is expressed through playfulness. It develops into a calm confidence. Be interesting to be around. Be fun to be with.

Horses help people in so many ways. Self-discovery, honesty, truth-telling, confidence, focus, communication, and being a leader worth following are a few priceless life skills that these wonderful, effective, followers offer us if we choose to show up.

Horses are helping countless people who have physical challenges. One chiropractor stated that his goal was to be as effective in his practice as an equine. Horses are helping people with post-traumatic stress come into calm and out of anxiety. Horses are helping people behind bars understand the difference between being assertive vs. being aggressive, and being responsive vs. being reactive. Horses help people in managerial positions to trust vs. micromanage. Horses help people of all ages learn how to be responsible, vs. blaming everything and anyone for the quality of their lives. And so important, horses help people understand that life flows when we live connected vs. living disconnected! Truly, horses help people practice life skills.
Psalm 46:1 states, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help.” Thank you God for help!

Your NEIGHbor,
Deb Kitchenmaster

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