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How understanding a horse can make you a better leader

If you have ever wondered how to improve your ability to communicate with people in your team, then consider doing what my Academy group did last week and try communicating with a horse.

Lisa BriceMy group of business leaders, MDs and CEOs spent a half-day working with Lisa Brice, who is also an NLP Trainer, and with her horses. It was a most enlightening and enjoyable experience and one that I recommend to any business leader.

In order to work with a horse, you first need to create rapport. That is not as simple as it sounds. As Lisa comments on her Horses for Coursestm site, “Horses live in the moment and will give us immediate and honest feedback about how we are relating to them. They provide a fantastic mirror; the way we approach horses is often how we approach other relationships and interactions. Horses are prey animals and humans are predators. Our hardwiring is completely different. Mastering how we can find a common ground for understanding and communicating opens up the dynamic opportunity of learning how to communicate with anyone, in any given circumstance.”

Horses for CoursesAs we discovered, working with a horse – Lisa calls it ‘equine assisted experiential learning’ – is less about knowing how to speak to a horse and much more about establishing resonance through body movement and body language and about your attitude to the task.

As with all experiential learning, it is not about success on the day but more about what you can take away from it. In this case, what I took away was the application of some of the techniques that worked with the horses to the push and pull of leadership. Communicating with people may not always seem to be a similar process, after all we re intelligent and react to logic. But it might pay to remember that we are animals, too, and react at an instinctive level just as the horses do.

In order to communicate well with your team and resonate with them, it pays to remember their preferred style of approach, to keep your body language congruent with the words you use and to use the feedback from their facial expressions and body language to adjust the delivery of your message.

I’m a strong believer in continuous change and improvement. Just as you cannot ask horses to do anything that involves sudden change, so it is true of business and the people in your team. Change is best when it happens naturally and progressively.

If you create a sudden change, it may not only be the horses that will be frightened.

Brian Chernett, Chairman, Academy Group 2Brian Chernett, Chairman Academy Group 2

The Academy for Chief Executives, a leading provider of experiential business learning® facilitates peer groups of CEOs and Managing Directors who meet together every month to network and take full advantage of experiential learning. To hear great speakers like this every month and engage in The Board You Could Never Afford®, to find out more about the London/Herts Group, or to find a local group near you, visit


  1. leenakapoor says:

    Horses and experiential learning and leadership? Have we run out of experiences with humans?
    I thought all you needed to make a horse behave was to use the reigns and the bit in the horse’s mouth. But then you talk about approaching a horse – not riding it.
    Approaching humans in the human way needs to be learnt from humans, not horses surely? It appears we are growing increasingly wary of our fellow human beings hence the need to resort to animals – horses in particular. After all we can master horses, not humans – especially if we really respect them.
    Check out some excellent ways of learning leadership while interacting with humans on

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