You are the Leader You Need

In the Northwoods, the leaves are all down and a few nights have dipped below freezing. Yet the weather overall has been great and these warm fall days seem so precious. With these final glorious days, I have taken a lot of time to work with horses.


Propel Yourself to New Levels

Last month, I went to a 1-day riding clinic which was pretty much a waste of time, but did end up propelling me to new levels of riding. It wasn’t that the instruction was so good, in fact, I thought it was pretty bad and I came home feeling like I knew nothing. After a few days of thinking I that I was just a horrible horse trainer, I decided that was not true and I began to increase the amount of time I worked with my horse Ranger, the way that we have been working, using a style that has been working for us.

I have to say, I was a little harder on Ranger and he rose to the challenge. I rode him in a bit, which is a piece of metal in the mouth of the horse and if used properly is not a cruel device at all. A bit is used by 99% of people who ride horses, but there are alternatives. Because Ranger had a rough start when he was a little guy, and because he was pretty mistrusting, I had often used a “bitless bridle” for Ranger, something that seemed to put him at ease.

Ranger rose to the challenge of having a bit in his mouth again, and did well dropping his head, tucking his chin, and moving all the individual body parts I asked him to. After several days of intense training (by our standards), Ranger began to plateau. He was cooperative, but it seemed like he was being pushed.

Horse Personality

I like my horses “alive” and to have personality. I like them to be safe and obedient, but to still be who they are. I let Ranger have another go at the bitless bridle and boy did he seem to appreciate it. Ranger was gentler that he had been with the bit, calmer, and had more of what cowboys call “try”.

My kids have both started to ride Ranger and have figured out that they can control him without getting hurt or hurting him. My son, 8 years-old, actually just started riding for the first time on his own and he LOVED IT! This just made me so happy because I love horses and invest a lot of time and family resources into them. To share the joy I get, with my family, would mean the world to me.

Lessons Learned

So here is what I learned this summer and how it can be applied to any situation in life. There will be times where some well-meaning soul will try and teach you something and tell you you’re doing it all wrong. Take what you can from these people, but never stop trusting in yourself and using what works for you. It is important to get outside advice, but I know from life coaching that as coaches we are not supposed tell someone how to do something, but rather help them on a journey of self-exploration. Look inward to judge yourself and see if you can do it better, but believe in yourself and trust in your talents.

Next, look to your team for feedback and make sure you are taking care of them the way they want to be taken care of. Sometimes there are external pressures for how you should treat your team, what they should be allowed and what kind of benefits they should get. However, if you want to really invest in your team, take care of them they by asking them what they need. A team member will tell you how they like to work. If you make a working environment a pleasurable place to work and build a trusting relationship, you will get a 100% return on your investment.

So there it is, a little tip from a Fall Northwoods horse training session. Trust in your ability and take care of your team. Next thing you know, you will be the kind of leader you have always wanted to be.

Keep leading,

Written by Rad Watkins

Rad Watkins

Rad Watkings is the founder of Animal Leadership LLC where he takes his vast experience from working with wildlife & the environment to help bring out the Leader inside you. He teaches how to excel without the complex tactics that so many people live on for their careers, relationships & more!


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