Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. – Dwight D. Eisenhower
I’ve been thinking about leadership and how so much of horsemanship really just comes down to how effective of a leader I am. It is a gift from me to them and the better I can be at it, the better EVERYTHING that I do with them is going to be.
When I think about being the leader to my horses here are a few of the words that I think it IS: decision maker, planner, prepared, patient, non-emotional, listener, assertive, focused, confident, clear, consistent, persistent, communicator, accommodating, adaptable, receptive, open-minded and empowering.
Notice I did not use any of the following words: bossy, authoritative, forceful, rigid, intimidating, micro-managing, critical, results driven, domineering and inconsiderate.
I’ve heard people say that our relationships with horses should be 50/50. I don’t actually agree with this. I’m more of the at least 51/49 model and if it tips a little further up the scale for the human I am pretty OK with that. When the shit hits the fan I don’t actually want a prey animal to believe they have HALF the say in how we respond. That’s not to say they get to have an opinion about it, but I get to make the final call.
Now getting that 51+ is the tricky part, and I don’t think it is one size fits all across all horses. I think some horses need a little more assertiveness, some need a little more patience, some need clearer boundaries and some need more consistency but they all need to be convinced that the human can be trusted not to get them in trouble.
I carry this intention with me into the New Year. To be a great horse leader. Not the kind that goes out and demands respect, but the kind that is drawn to, due to the very nature of their behavior and stance.