What horses can teach us...

The conventional way of thinking is that humans have something to teach horses. We turn this on its head and focus instead on what horses can teach us about ourselves, others and the world at large


Participating in an equine facilitated experiential learning session becomes an adventure, where we explore how to enter a relationship with the horse which is equal, not power over. By engaging with horses in this way, participants learn about themselves, others and the world at large. Through facilitating and coaching with the horses as the teachers and guides, we develop a process of enquiry which helps participants move from where they are to where they would like to be. The learning is in the experience and the non-judgemental feedback the horses will give. Learning can include for example building self confidence, emotional intelligence or presence and mindfulness skills.


We also focus on what horses can teach us by just being horses, and not just from a human (anthropomorphic) perspective, but by meeting the horses in their field, in their culture, this can help us get back into our senses and our embodied ways of knowing. 


Horses can teach us to develop body awareness and emotional intelligence through experiential learning.


Horses communicate mainly through their body language, but did you know that at least 90% of how we communicate is nonverbal too! As Albert Einstein said “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.” At Adventures with Horses we concentrate on the intuitive mind and other ways of knowing, as well as our five senses.


The horse is always asking us to stay in the present moment, and is always given the choice of connecting, engaging and working with each participant. Horses are not interested in our agenda, status, or outer persona but to ones inner story, body language and commitment to what one really cares about.


By engaging with the horses without over-using our rational cognitive mind - e.g. judging, assessing or questioning - we adventure into being fully present in the moment. The horses will then give us accurate, non-judgemental feedback, and in this way they help us to let go of what we know in order to open up to what we don’t yet know.


In this authentic state we develop natural presence, with the opportunity to relearn how to trust our feelings, our hearts, our sensate responses, and gut feelings.


Team work with the horse helps shift our intention towards what is naturally good in self and others and an understanding of how our differences are important assets to a team.

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.” Albert Einstein


Our education system has tended to favour cognitive knowing – often to the exclusion or detriment of our intuitive and other ways of knowing, which are...


Intuitive knowing involves opening up to our perceptual experiences by simply paying attention to any insights and ideas that emerge, often spontaneously and unexpectedly.


Emotional knowing describes the knowing we pick up through feelings and emotions, they are a rich source of data about our own reactions, towards the horses, other people in the group and what is happening around us.


Embodied knowing is the knowing we pick up through our bodies, when we tune into them in the present moment. We have often been unconsciously conditioned to ignore our bodies, horses tune into their bodies all the time as a source of information about other members of their herd and their surrounding, hence they are great teachers in showing us how to become more aware of our body sensations.


Thinking and cognitive knowing is where the emphasis is on the rational mind, particularly useful in intellectually analysing mathematical and scientific data, creating logical sequences such as strategy, planning and concepts.

Horses are master teachers on the first three ways of knowing.






“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” Winston Churchill


Learning from the power of the herd


At Adventures with Horses we bring into our work facilitating groups on what horses can teach us about leadership and teambuilding in times of change. Bringing in the latest ideas in living systems, complexity and emergence, we embody ideas looking at the real live goals or challenges the organisations we work with need to address.

For example in a herd of horses, leadership is shared. Each member of the herd has a role in protecting the health of the herd and in the socialization of new or young members. The ever-present goal of herd leadership is health, harmony, unity and safety.

For herd members to place their trust in leaders, they must see four qualities in them:

1. That the leaders are paying attention and can detect even the most subtle shifts in the environment.
2. That the leaders can give them clear direction on how to respond to the shifts.
3. That the leaders are able to follow that direction with focused energy, providing the herd with guidance on the pace with which to respond.
4. That the leaders display congruence of their inner and outer expressions.

"For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them." Aristotle


 To find out more see Sue's article "Natural, courageous leadership - learning with horses" on Giles Hutchins' website The Nature of Business.

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