I once submitted an idea for a book about equine leadership to a literary agent and I received a very curious rejection letter. He thought that book was interesting but he also implied that establishing leadership with a horse was some how cruel to the horse. Not knowing me personally, just reading my bio which included military service. I assume he jumped to the erroneous conclusion that somehow I was going to be a nightmare Marine Drill Instructor.
Obviously he has little knowledge of real what real leadership means. I think good old fashioned leadership has somehow become a bad thing. I think the world needs a little more of it really.
Leadership is not a four-lettered word. Words like bite, kick, rear and buck are four-lettered words that positive leadership helps to remove from a horse’s lexicon. Leadership is one of few things in life that is both a science and an art. Good leadership traits can be taught and learned. Some people and animals are born with more leadership skills than others. Good leadership produces excellent results and the lack of good leadership produces very few positive results.
Examples of good leadership are being firm when and as necessary, but also being patient. Horses really don’t do well with yelling a screaming. Yes that may work in boot camp, but not with a horse.
Women usually are more understanding than men. Men are usually more forceful than women. You must be somewhere in between understanding and forceful to be a good leader with a horse. You must understand when to use force. You must also understand when not to use force. Yes sometimes you must be physically superior to your horse.
Horse’s are very large animal and need to know their boundaries for you to be safe and to gain the position as a leader. Most of the time you must be mentally superior to your horse. Experience and success will hone your skills to be able to use very physical force. A good leader learns to anticipate problems and solve them almost before they start.
Most people think of training when they think of leadership. You are always training your horse. Therefore you are always a leader when you are within sight of your horse. That doesn’t mean you can’t be loving and gentle. Grooming your horse is good leadership. Positive leadership helps to bond with your horse. Good care shows you care to the horse. A good leader is trusted. A good leader knows how to communicate well. Yes they listen and speak equally well. The trick to knowing you are good leader is when you can be so gentle that your horse welling does a task. Constantly micromanaging your horse is a sign of very poor leadership. A good leader teaches individual responsibility.
When you are a good leader in the eyes of your horse they do what you want without question. You have proved your leadership qualities to your horse by being brave, understanding and showing strength.
When your horse submits to your leadership he is putting his heart and life in your hands. Tell me if that isn’t the most humbling and motivational reason to be the best leader you can be. Oh yes leadership has couple four-lettered words that I like. Those four-lettered words are LOVE and CARE. Excellent leader qualities are derived from truly caring and loving what you do.