Magazine article Talent Development

Horse Sense for Leaders: In This Leadership Course, Horses Have the Reins. (Intelligence)

Magazine article Talent Development

Horse Sense for Leaders: In This Leadership Course, Horses Have the Reins. (Intelligence)

Article excerpt

The horse is the teacher, Louis Wood insists. A real-life cowboy schooled in natural horsemanship (often described as "horse whispering"), Wood takes time away from running his 300-acre ranch in Virginia not only to train horses, but also to help horses train human beings.

Wood's method of working with a young or difficult horse (though difficult is a misnomer to him; he says it's often the riders who need the most reaching) is miles away from the traditional method of horse breaking. Instead of trying to dominate a horse, bending its will to his own as in the traditional method, Wood listens and communicates with the animal using body language, establishes trust, partners rather than tries to control, and teaches what the horse is ready to learn.

It is this unusual interplay between man and animal that John Lord, director of the Leadership Development Center at the University of Virginia, wants his students to learn from. The goal of the Horse Sense for Leaders program, built around observation of Wood's equine training sessions, is not to imitate the cowboy's individual techniques. Rather, Lord asks participants to observe Wood's work and listen to his running monologue to generate questions about their own leadership styles and gain new insights. …

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