Horses are prey and herd animals. Not unlike humans, they find safety in staying connected with their family and community. And like humans, they also need to live in an environment that allows for growth, mutual care and communication.
So, what does this mean in the wild, and what can we learn about leadership, connection and community?
What horses need in the wild
In their natural habitat, horses are considered herd animals. Living within a herd and partnering with other horses offers them protection from predators.
Within the herd, there is a social hierarchy in which each horse has a role based on their unique strengths and skills. In wild horse herds, the dominant, usually elder, female sets the direction and pace for the herd. The dominant male provides protection from the back, and other horses often called sentinels, keep the herd together from the sides.
As part of a herd, horses are safer and more secure, which reduces anxiety and isolation – and literally helps them stay alive.
What horses can teach humans
Trust is the foundation of healthy and effective leadership. The lead mare in a herd is chosen as the leader, not because she seeks that position but because she is the horse all the other members of the herd trust to keep them safe. She becomes the leader because she possesses the skills of and behaves like a leader.
This is something that humans can learn from, especially within the workplace, as leaders need to be trusted to do what is best for the wellbeing of their human “herd” in order to be effective.
Like horses, we humans become insecure and fearful when separated from a trusting group that is aligned around a common goal and looks out for each other.
Horses communicate with one another through body language and signals. Horses also take turns being alert and ready for danger so that other members of the herd can rest. The horses in the herd share responsibility in the care of their community.
When horse share with us what comes naturally to them
There are many ways in which we can learn from horses, simply by observing or working alongside them.
Equine assisted learning provides opportunities to develop and practice relationship and communication skills, enabling leaders and organizations to directly experience what it means to more effectively work together as one herd/community.
Equine assisted learning and coaching are powerful, innovative methods for leaders to explore how to work as one with their team, communicating and building a community joined by mutual trust and understanding.
By watching how horses adapt to constantly changing circumstances, communicate their needs, and keep each other safe, we can incorporate what we learn from them into our own lives.
Are you ready to help others find balance and trust within their herds?
We would love to have you in our herd. Check out what membership in E3A can do for you, or better yet, get your questions about E3A answered at our Arena Side Chat.