About Me

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North Lawrence, New York, United States
I can be described as lover of life, an animal lover, and lover of education. I am constantly striving for knowledge and learning opportunities. I've been around horses my entire life. I enjoy working with horses and their human partners through natural horsemanship philosophies, natural balance bare foot hoof care, reiki, red-light therapy, essential oils, aromatherapy, crystal healing, chromotherapy, flower essences, and more. I am a Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Master Teacher who offers treatments for people, horses, dogs, cats, and other creatures great and small. I also teach Reiki classes for those interested in learning how to treat themselves, their loved ones, and even their animals! Natural Horse Lover Farm is located in Northern New York between the St. Lawrence River and Adirondack Mountains. Heaven on Earth. naturalhorseloverfarm.com

Friday, December 11, 2009

Effective Leadership with Our Horses

***Please be sure to turn off the playlist radio (scroll towards the bottom of the blog) before viewing the video! ***

My friend Clare passed this video around and I just had to share it! It is hilarious but, we've all seen this scenario (or parts of it) in real life and it is an issue with effective leadership with our horses.

What does effective leadership mean? What are the best practices? Does this all have to do with the human-horse relationship or is this all relationships? I believe that leadership starts with the individual and that the development of yourself is the beginning of becoming a great leader. Leadership involves one leading the the others following and thus, is the simple definition of a relationship.

"Leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen." - Alan Keith, Lucas Digital

When I think about the relationship I have with my horses, I definitely like the idea of something extraordinary happening. Every interaction with them is exciting in my mind and each time I am with them, I find something new to ponder. This is the case no matter what I am doing...feeding, grooming, playing with, riding, or hauling them somewhere. Our interactions are dynamic and each offers more clues about our relationship and the path we are on. I choose to also lead by example and spread the word through my actions, not through constant badgering to those uninterested in the message.

"Don't walk the extra mile for someone walking in the opposite direction." - Pat Parelli

If you've ever read, The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner, you know that a highlighted theory is the "Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership." They pose that when ever extraordinary leadership happens, that leaders engage in these five principles: (with my interpretations)

1. Model the Way (lead by example, respect is determined by your behavior towards others and your horse)

"A horse doesn't care how much you know until he knows how much you care." Pat Parelli

2. Inspire a Shared Vision (have a plan, mental rehearsing, envision the future)

"Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning." -Gloria Steinem

3. Challenge the Process (be risk tolerant, take chances, explore, just do it, it takes work not luck)

"Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it's not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won't. It's whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere." - Barack Obama

4. Enable Others to Act (Horse-human relationship it is a team sport, give your partners the right tools, knowledge)

"If your horse says "no", you either asked the wrong question, or asked the question wrong." --Pat Parelli

5. Encourage the Heart (Positive actions, make it the horse's idea)

"Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you. Love me and I may be forced to love you." -William Arthur Ward

It is my thought that our relationship with our horses, our goals, our successes all stem around our leadership. Philosophically, let's talk a little about what leadership is and what it is not? Pat Parelli has said many times that, "Your horse is a reflection of you as a leader--what kind of leader you are is truly reflected in how your horse is."

To me, leadership is and is not... (from my post, January 21, 2009: Leadership While Mounted...Do you have it? Do you need it? Do you want it?)

Leadership IS NOT:

1. Power. The idea of power is offensive, rude, and simply out of line. Keep power trips out of the picture and you will create a safe environment for your relationship to grow.
2. Waiting for something to happen and hoping the other party will make the first move to allow you to lead. Leaders get the ball rolling, allowing the relationship to build and happen.
3. Being closed minded and thinking that you are always right. Leaders also make mistakes and you must own up to them for the relationship to work.

Leadership IS:

1. Knowing that change starts with you! If there is a problem, it stems with you, not your horse---kind of like your computer. Computers are not intelligent, they can only think in terms of one and zero. It is humans (the operators/manipulators) that actually make them work to create the wonderful things we do with them. If they are not working right, it is usually our fault. Do you remember seeing Pat Parelli on more than one occasion take a "bad" horse and make him a "good" horse? The horse did not change, his leadership changed making him react differently to the situation. (This is not magic, this is leadership.)
2. Being able to always find the positive in any situation. Dwelling on the negative does nothing but sabotage you and your horse.
3. Not having power-trips. POWER is a dirty word!
4. Understanding that you are a role model, you are infectious--do your horsey friends want what you've got--you'd better hope so because if they do, chances are you are doing something wonderful with and for your horse.
5. Knowing that your horse is evaluating you on a daily basis (perhaps every minute, every second). Does he believe in you and your leadership? Are you trustworthy? Does he want to be with you? Remember you are a predator asking a prey animal to follow your lead---to some horses this could mean something akin to trusting a lion to take them home to meet the pride for dinner. (Do they think they that they are a guest or the main course--hmmm?) Does your horse see you as a scary dominating predator or a partner?
6. Acknowledging a job well done at the very moment it happens. Remember this quote, "Pressure motivates but it is the release the teaches"--Pat Parelli? The release is the acknowledgement or reward (a cookie never hurts either).
7. Someone who leads by example, listens, compassionate, self-aware, tough and courageous, optimistic, intelligent, fun, motivational, creative, accurate, concise, dedicated, punctual, sensitive, enthusiastic, accountable, troubleshoots, understands verbal and non-verbal cues, is able to trust, is trustworthy, plans, and prepares.

As you can see, leaders have a great responsibility. Sure, you can get a horse to do what you want through fear and intimidation but what fun it that? I personally prefer a horse who wants to be with me and who is having fun.

"Ask your horse... 'Are you ready to do this? Are you ready to do that?' It's a different mindset than 'Do this! Do that!" -Linda Parelli

1 comment:

Naturally Gaited said...

Thanks, Michelle!