Lily Sutton from the Shakespeare Hospice recently attended an open programme Leadership with Horses workshop. Here’s what she had to say about the experience. Lily is on the left of the photo below.
I was very lucky to be able to attend the Leadership with Horses Training Day in March 2014. I given the news that I was going to attend and felt very lucky to have this opportunity however I was unsure of what exactly to expect…
I arrived at their yard at 9.30am that morning and was greeted by Jude, Emma and our leaders the horses Kalle & Tiffin who were finishing off being groomed.
I could immediately tell that Kalle and Tiffin were definitely part of the team and not just any horses, they had their own opinions which Jude and Emma valued strongly. I knew this day was going to be special and no ordinary training day.
We were a small group and I was the least experienced with horses. I was assured that this didn’t matter, but I did feel the least confident at this point going into the day. The first thing we did with the horses was go up to greet them and introduce ourselves, something even as simple as this had me unsure of how to behave – everyone seemed to be able to approach them with ease and confidence knowing where to stroke them etcetera, I had no idea. I approached Kalle and she turned away from me, I immediately started judging myself, assuming that she didn’t like me however I later learnt that she could tell I wasn’t comfortable and this is how she was responding to my body language.
This was my first lesson learnt from the day. How can we expect others to act in a warm and friendly manner towards us to us if we do not approach them with the same friendly and welcoming behaviour.
Before joining the horses out in the arena, we took to the inviting hay bales and blankets inside one of their converted stables to talk about what we hoped to achieve during the day. I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to achieve but I did know that I wanted to discover aspects of my leadership behaviours that could be improve and hopefully find ways I could do this.
When we re-joined the horses out on the arena we were given our first task. I decided to volunteer to go first so that I was able to try it my way without being influenced by the more experienced members of the group. I was pleasantly surprised with how I did, and was glad I had gone first.
After we each took our turn for each activity Jude and Emma would discuss what they saw from an expert trainer’s perspective and then we would all contribute what we had observed. I felt that I benefitted from the feedback received by Jude and Emma as well as the rest of the group.
As we progressed through the day the activities became more challenging and we did not sail as easily through the next few tasks. As before we each reflected on how we had done and valuable lessons were learnt by each of us. We were each able to take something away from our own experiences and I also learnt a great deal from observing the other members of the team. Whilst participating in an activity I found the feedback I received from the horses incredible and was amazed that as I took this on board and worked out what I needed to change how quickly the horses would change to reflect this too.
We finished the day with a group exercise using an excellent model we had discussed earlier on, we were able to apply this to the exercise and we learnt a lot about ourselves and where we each fitted within the model. It was nice to finish on a team task as by this point we had already learnt a great deal about ourselves and each other, we were able to work together in such away that pulled us out of our comfort zones to work in a position we wouldn’t normally place ourselves in but we were still able to complete the task effectively by working together and supporting each other.
This experience went far above the high expectations I had when I arrived. I left the yard at the end of the day feeling incredibly privileged to have been part of such an inspiring and insightful day, but please don’t take my word for it go and experience it for yourself. You will not be disappointed!
Thank you Jude, Emma, Kalle and Tiffin!
Jude and Emma say: “Thank you Lily for coming and throwing yourself in so courageously. We are delighted you enjoyed the experience and can’t wait to hear more how the learning unfolds for you as you apply it in the workplace.”
The Leadership Whisperers help senior leaders develop embodied leadership skills that have a profound impact in business. Through live events and workshops, Jude and Emma partner with horses who provide non-judgmental feedback, enabling clients to identify their strengths and where they get derailed so they can transform themselves into courageous and hugely influential non-verbal communicators.
Our corporate clients report significant results including resolving conflict, cultural change, improving financial performance, increasing sales and individuals gaining promotions.
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