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A 1-minute authentic leadership metaphor.

Paul is led through a 'breakthrough' session
by a horsejoy coach.

Paul enjoying a joyfully trusting relationship
with Boris.

Click here for 10-minute case-study



Anger and fear can be a pathway to authentic relationship


Yesterday, I truly learned something very powerful – anger and hurt feelings can be the pathway to truly fulfilling relationships - if we pass through understanding.

There’s an idea going round the ‘New Paradigm’ horse world that horses are ‘great, wise teachers’ ‘sent’ to heal humanity from its bad ways.

I prefer to empower humanity by saying that we are here to  learn new things and balance old mistakes. For some of us (me included) building relationships with horses is a powerful way of accelerating our own growth and learning.

Yesterday, after my post, believing he was ready, I hopped on my green, young, home-bred gelding, Boris (left). He very nearly spun me off. I had to grab his mane to stay on and perform an emergency hind- quarter disengage. Instead of going forward to the leg, he was backing up at great speed. Although I felt quite calm and present, my whole body was trembling and my hands were visibly shaking. I knew I had to get off asap, but did not want to reward this ‘rebellious’ behaviour.

I was feeling deeply upset. Boris and I have developed a beautiful, close, trusting relationship. I took this very personally. My fear was that he would turn from a cheeky, self-willed, playmate, into a rogue that I could never trust!

I decided to dismount and have him work on the lunge for twenty minutes. I admit I was angry. I had to restrain myself from doing this as a ‘punishment’. I love this animal in ways beyond words. After a few minutes, I could see him dodging the shade under the trees. It was a very bright, sunny afternoon, I realised he must be reacting to the contrast between intense light and dark shadow (how’s that for a metaphor?). At once I understood, from his perspective, why he was acting so violently! The whole energy and intent of the exercise changed. I was able to work him through his fear until he was quite ok about passing under the trees. I still gave him the twenty minutes because I could see the work was doing him good.

I was going to leave it at that for the day. In truth, I was afraid to get back on. So (of course) I had to challenge myself and take that risk. I asked Geri, my wife, to spot for me – just in case!

He was a different horse. As a test of my focus and our relationship, I took him through a prelim dressage test. He was calm, straight and moving forward with true impulsion. Wow! It came to the canter section. He went off on a thought, then, instead of his usual rush onto the forehand he came back on his haunches and (without my even asking) gave me a light, bouncy, collected canter – on a virtually loose rein! Wow and wow again!

My Chinese takeaway from this is to intend that in all my relationships, I can move a lot faster from fear and assumption towards seeking true understanding of the other’s point of view.

What about you?


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