10 Leadership Secrets Whispered by Horses

10 Leadership Secrets Whispered by Horses

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What Do You Know?

My confidence was badly shaken. Hoss had bucked me off a few months before and it scared me. I had been bucked off before, but my horse would stop immediately and look at me like, “What the hell you doing down there?” But, when Hoss unseated me, he bucked three quarters of the way around the arena. I knew I could never ride that out, and I didn’t want to try.

But, the clinician, Mark Rashid, had worked me past my fears and gotten me on Hoss again. He was asking me to ask Hoss to do some tasks. Mark said,

“Where did you get this horse?”

“We got him at auction. He was a bucking horse that didn’t want to buck any more.”

Mark said that the reason Hoss was not following my cues because he doesn’t know them. “He’s a totally green horse.”

I thought, “Duh! Of course.” Hoss has only been ridden eight seconds (max) at a time. They ran him into a chute, strapped a cowboy to him, and opened the gate.

I had assumed that Hoss knew what I was asking, but I just wasn’t getting through to him. But I was asking him questions he didn’t understand. Once I got past this assumption, I started way back at the beginning and started our relationship anew. We were both much happier.

That episode of getting bucked off allowed me learn to always ask my horses, “What can you do?” and “What do I need to do to help you move forward?” I’ll keep asking simpler questions until I get a positive response, then move forward from there.

This lesson of asking Hoss what he knew has carried over into my interactions with people. When I was in the computer business, I would ask one of my programmers to do something. Then, I would ask another question to make sure he understood. I learned to keep asking questions until I understood what he knew. I could then start from that point and go forward with the teaching process. We would back up so that we could go forward, like backing out of a driveway before heading up the street