Yee-haw...Leadership Lessons from Horse Training

I worked on a working guest ranch after college. Lost Valley Ranch in Colorado. An amazing place. I've written about it before here on the blog. Over the course of 5 years at Lost Valley, I spent lots and lots of time around horses. We had 150 horses at the Ranch. 8 hours a day around them. And these horses taught me a lot. Actually a lot about Leadership.

Here are a few of those lessons I learned:

1. Make the correct thing to do really easy, and the wrong thing to do really hard.

2. Whether you like it or not, you are ALWAYS training.

3. I would much rather have a horse I have to hold back, vs. a horse I have to spur to get going. Build your team with those who are self motivated.

4. Horses would rather eat, poop, and sleep vs. do any work. I know there is a lesson here somewhere....

5. Horses reflect their trainer- if you train incorrectly, then horses will mirror that bad training. The way your horse acts is a mirror many times into the soul of you as the trainer. Same thing with our teams- as the leader, does your team reflect the qualities you most despise about yourself?

6. Consistency is key. Repetition and persistance are crucial for training to stick.

7. You must intentionally lead them away from the group. Horses are naturally herd-bound animals, meaning the herd mentality will always drive their decisions, many times to their own detriment. They need someone to constantly guide them.

8. If you back a horse into a corner and give them no options, they will kick you. Don't put them in that position. Maybe applicable to parenting as well.

9. Immediate feedback is crucial. You can't kick a horse for something they did 5 minutes ago. They can't connect the two. You have to correct them instantly after bad behavior.