Developing managerial skills with horses

from: Liane Dannenberg


Developing managerial skills calls for both expert knowledge and the application of certain methods. However, the individual with his or her social competency is always centre stage. How can I lead and motivate others to follow me? How can I project confidence, even under uncertain conditions? How can I communicate my intentions in an understandable way and get other people excited, even when we speak different languages and live within different contexts?


When it comes to working on goal definition, communication patterns as well as ‘natural authority’, horse-based training modules and coaching units have proven their value. Why horses? As flight animals, horses live within their own social group, the herd, which provides them with security. There, dominance and submission are clearly regulated and/or renegotiated: With great perception, and through a variety of signals, horses navigate their position within the group, clarifying leadership claims and trustful allegiance.


Working against this backdrop, the use of horses is particularly valuable as a catalyst for management issues: As managers interact with horses, they learn directly how their management style comes across and how their interventions function. They clarify their learning goals and concerns with the learning group or the coach in advance. After completing the leadership exercise with a horse, the concluding discussion makes it possible to transfer what has been learned to everyday performance.


In our experience, horse-based development work provides for accelerated cognitive processes and motivational impulses along with an added boost that comes from the positive energy of horses as a learning medium.