(Photo | Pixabay)
Not only do I, Alicia, work for Cale part-time, my husband and I operate Nate Smith Equine Services together. My husband is educated in equine nutrition and exercise physiology (Go Beavs & Aggies!) and is very gifted in training horses and teaching people. What I find so interesting is how closely related leadership development is to training horses and teaching people. I believe leadership skills transcend to all areas of life and all professions. Which leads me to also believe, no matter what you do in life (personal or professional) developing your leadership skills should be a priority.
Just as in an office environment, you encounter so many different personality types in horses. There’s the goof-offs, the serious types, those that seem to lack work ethic and those that can’t wait to start work every day. Same with the riders — the different skill levels, goals, experiences and personalities create challenges in teaching them as well. The same philosophy applies to people and horses; hire the attitude, train the skill. Seldom do we “fire” a horse (or client), but it has happened. There are too many great horses in the world to waste your time and money on a “bad fit”.
As for the horse, sometimes it’s only “bad” because we’re asking it to perform a job they aren’t naturally skilled or properly trained for. A horse with a great attitude but no drive to run fast probably won’t enjoy speed events, thus will be a low-performer and will leave both rider and horse frustrated. Turn this horse into a competition trail horse and it may be the best that’s ever been. As a leader/trainer, we must be able to identify our team’s individual strengths and then allow them the opportunities to use them. We also need to recognize when the fit just isn’t right and have the hard conversation.
The other similarity is almost all horse-and-rider issues and situations are caused by a human either communicating ineffectively or not at all. Aren’t most workplace challenges also caused by the lack of, or poor communication? The trainer teaches the riders how to communicate more effectively with the horse. Most of the students in our program have been riding their entire lives but still have so much more to learn. Again, does this sound familiar to what happens in a workplace where management has been getting by “doing what they’ve always done”, unaware or sadly unwilling to admit there’s better, more effective ways to communicate? Improved communication equates to improved performance.
Finally, our horse business clients experience the most growth when they participate in group lessons and clinics. Why? When they participate in a group with varying abilities, disciplines, goals, and experience but all share the same desire to be better riders, they learn more watching and talking to each other as well as from the trainer. The trainer also appreciates the group learning environment because like all professionals, he readily admits he still doesn’t know it all and looks for opportunities to learn more. This sounds a lot like our Bullet Proof Manager sessions. We bring leaders together, focus on challenges all leaders face, and through interactive discussions and group activities, learn how to be better leaders and communicators.
I just love my jobs! If you have an interest in becoming a better rider or leader, I can hook you up. Give me a call.