Horses Connect Us To Our True Selves

Self-awareness is the fundamental starting point for leadership and team building. Here's how horses can contribute to self-awareness and make great leaders!

Self-awareness is the fundamental starting point for leadership and team building. It requires that we are OPEN to working with our truths. These truths can be personality preferences, innate capabilities, values and beliefs. These truths could also be our fears and doubts that often stand in our own way to success. Developing our best selves needs us to be vulnerable to facing our fears and inhibitions. However, this vulnerability does not come as easily as it is said. Even if we want to be open and vulnerable, there are always several factors holding us back when we’re in conversation with a coach and even less so when we’re in a team workshop. Therefore, we quickly find ourselves telling stories instead of talking about how to break those barriers down in order to harness our true selves and develop those latent inner strengths.

'That' moment in a coaching engagement or team workshop when we open up to ‘face our truth’ is the ‘tipping point’ for the self-awareness and change we seek. But it doesn’t always come easy or quick. Having worked as a coach and facilitator with teams and leaders across various cultures and geographies, I have found one thing in common - those who get to that point earlier in the process, progress much faster in making the changes they seek. But they are not the norm. Most of us first need to feel safe before we choose to open up. And this time we need costs us effort, money and opportunity. It also delays the progress we want to make.

Horses cut through all of that and get us straight to our tipping point. They see who we truly are. They connect only to that. In turn, connect us quickly to our true inner selves. And they bring it out faster than we ever thought was possible. Gently, kindly and in a fun way.

When you are around a horse, he or she doesn’t care if you are vulnerable or open or closed. They just need you to be yourself in order to trust and follow you. They, therefore, present an exceptional opportunity for what I call ‘Safe Vulnerability’. You do not need to talk to impress a horse. You do not need to introduce who you are, what you do or why you do it. You do not need to ‘tell your story’. The horse does not judge you. The horse simply needs to know that it is safe with you. And it does so when you are your true self. 

(Image Courtesy- Laura Battiato-Shutterstock)

The non-verbal language of the equine world also equips a horse to pick up the slightest twitch that might arise in your body or energy as a result of your thoughts or feelings. Our feelings and thoughts are the bridge to our truths in the present moment. While we humans are not able to pick up how much of that our body is communicating at any given moment, horses do it in an instant. And thus, give you feedback on how you are showing up in the gentlest possible way.

Horses connect intuitively with your energy. And energy does not know how to wear a mask or tell stories. This keen intuitiveness is what has helped them survive 50+ million years of predator-occupied earth. A horse does not understand our stories – he/she instead reflects who we are being. This allows us to get past the 'verbal games' we sometimes need to play before we feel safe to show our true self. Our true energy, the seat of our best part.

So why a team offsite with horses? 
When teammates and colleagues get to see and work with not only their own but also one another's true and best selves, they connect better than ever before. They have much more fun at work. Trust each other more. Have each other's backs. And the effect of all that 'glue' shows up very quickly in business performance.

Riddhima Kowley

Riddhima Kowley

Jeevoka member since Sep 2019

A trained HorseDream Licensed Partner and a member of the International Association of Horse Assisted Education – the largest worldwide community of horse assisted educators, I am Coach, Consultant and Facilitator at Nirsara. Born and brought up in Pune (India), I now live in London (UK). I left India to study abroad in 2002 and have ever since garnered a deep understanding of various cultures. This understanding, in combination with a strength-based approach anchored in positive psychology, has helped me create highly inclusive spaces for diverse individuals and teams across various sectors, especially corporate, to learn and develop.