What Can Horses Teach Us About Leadership?

Every horse wants a leader, but not every human is up to the task. Find out what a horse looks for in a leader and how he can help you better manage people.

Even small horses are big compared to us weakling humans, and as a result, we have little chance of getting a horse to do something simply by using our powers of persuasion or brute strength. Instead, we need to gain his trust and figure out how to present ourselves as leaders they can both believe in and respect.

Horses live very much in the moment, responding to stimuli instantly and honestly. This quality means they will give clear, timely, and direct feedback without judgment or any preconceived notions of who you are or what power you may wield in the workplace.

Finding The Energy To Lead Responsibly

The other day, I had a disastrous training session with my young mare, Pandamonium. My energy was all over the place, and soon enough, so was hers. She had no faith in my ability to lead her safely because she could feel my anxiety. I had created an atmosphere of chaos rather than confidence, and as a result, instead of doing what I asked, Pandamonium mirrored my unhelpful emotions back at me.

Humans aren’t that different, and most people are attracted to leaders that emit a “grounded, centered and coherent energy.”

Leading a horse requires constant self-awareness, ensuring that the actions you are taking are consistent with the emotions and energy you’re giving off. A seemingly minute change in your approach can significantly shift a horse’s reaction, enabling you to distinguish more readily between “ineffective leadership” and “effective and sustainable leadership strategies.”

As horses don’t respond to speech or express themselves vocally, to become a respected leader of horses, you must use your energy and intent. You must learn to communicate “on a more visceral, holistic level.”

How To Harness The Power Of Shared Leadership

Being a successful leader of humans requires similar self-awareness, and all too often, it’s when we fail to recognize our emotions that we “unknowingly create an environment of fear, chaos, and drama, rather than one of trust, collaboration, and respect.”

Even if you don’t want to engage with a horse in a one-on-one situation, observing a herd’s natural behavior reveals some intriguing insights into collective leadership. “A highly-functioning herd thrives through shared leadership,” which it uses to “create unity, harmony, and collaboration while keeping the herd safe.”

If we apply those same values to a work environment, we can create a safe atmosphere in which every contributor has “a sense of belonging and purpose.”


As our inspiring editor, Nicola Mann wrote in her article about how Women Rank Higher On Leadership Scores, “Leadership is about gaining followership.”

This is exactly what horses do and why equine leadership programs can give you deeper insights into different aspects of your leadership style, how to gain respect and influence over your colleagues, and “embrace the power of shared leadership.”

For more information, check out these programs, many of which are available as virtual experiences as well as fully interactive ones:

Aspire – Leadership Courses With Horses

A20 Coaching – The Art of Leadership

Horses for Courses – Leadership and Team Development

Learning To Listen – Leadership & Team Training

Ride High Equestrian Centre – Leadership and Team Dynamics