Equine-assisted coaching

SmallBusiness.co.uk explores why leadership programmes can be horses for courses.

Stephanie Morgan was prepared to encounter horses on the leadership course she completed last year. What she wasn’t prepared for was the impact of what she learned.

‘Usually with coaching it takes many sessions to reveal the crux of an issue,’ says the client services manager at training specialist Bray Leino Broadskill. ‘But by working with the horse and a really good coach it was much quicker and easier.’

Morgan learned that when she was trying to gain buy-in from her team, she was not coming across as strongly as she thought. ‘Since the programme I have been much more consistent and changed my body language and tone of my voice, and I have noticed a dramatic improvement in my team,’ she remarks. ‘They are getting on with implementing our plans with much greater commitment.’

Four-footed friends

Equine-assisted coaching helps leaders like Morgan figure out what they’re doing right or wrong without a PowerPoint slide or textbook in sight – although classroom training can be used to supplement time in the pen. Sarah Kreutzer, who runs Yorkshire-based school Learning to Listen explains, ‘Horses give you a chance to act out what you are learning in the classroom with a living, breathing being.’ Owner of Sussex-based Equinox Coaching Anette Haug adds, ‘You’re not there to train the horses; they are there to train you.’

Related: 4 leadership lessons from horse whispering

Both Kreutzer and Haug agree they can tell what kind of leader a person is from exercises in the pen. Haug comments, ‘If they lead from the front they are generally a direct leader, from the side a co-operative leader, and from the back they favour delegation leadership.’

With any form of training this unusual, there are sure to be neighsayers. But for businesses prepared to give it a chance, there’s a wide range of individual and group courses, from day workshops to year-long programmes, with typical prices ranging from £400 to £4,000.

See also: Leadership training and how it worked for owner-managers

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