Horses Teaching Humans about Leadership

Researchers are studying how horses assist humans in personal and professional growth and development.

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If you were to ask students in any equine science and management program why they want to work in the horse industry, typical responses might included training race horses, working in the sport horse world, breeding, managing a stable, or becoming a veterinarian. Rarely do they mention a desire to collaborate with horses to teach humans about themselves, nor can they envision the horses they will work with becoming some of the best teachers for their own personal and professional development.

Yet men and women alike are drawn to working with horses for many reasons, some of which are not easily put into words. As Winston Churchill so aptly said: “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”

To fully understand this “something” requires us to experience the horse-human relationship from a completely different perspective.

“This notion of horses enlightening humans about themselves is a relatively new one,” said Lissa Pohl, MA, program and outreach associate and researcher with the University of Kentucky’s Center for Leadership Development in the College of Agriculture. “However, horses have much to teach us, and it’s really changing that old paradigm of horses being the receivers of what people know, to people being the receivers of what horses know and how, together, we can create collaborative learning relationships

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