5 ways horses teach leadership

Jess Liston conducting a leadership course where horses teach leadership. Group of people in indoor arena opposite horse

Above: Jess Liston (sitting, wearing pink hat) at one of her courses where horses help build leadership and confidence skills Image credit: Chloe Smith

Jess Liston grew up on a farm in country Victoria and was riding horses before she could walk. She now harnesses the wisdom of horses for courses in leadership and team building.

From her childhood, Jess recalls her mother’s inspirational words, ‘There are no bad horses, each horse just needs to be understood with kindness and patience.’ “The same can be said of humans,” says Jess. After studying Equine Therapy in Germany, Jess returned to Australia and launched a horse therapy business supporting local families facing challenging life events.

After positive feedback, she decided to broaden her courses to enable people to learn more about themselves — and so improve their leadership and communication skills — through connection with the herd animals. Jess explains we learn from situations where we ‘listened to our hearts or gut instincts’ like horses do.

“People are so busy trying to keep up with external pressures, they lose their own balance and their own sense of place in the world. When people learn to listen and honour their own internal rhythm, they can become a more effective leader, partner, parent or team member,” explains Jess. She says benefits of the courses are:

• Horses teach people to listen to their inner rhythm and use this in their lives
• Horses don’t care about job titles or how much people earn, they care about how they show up in the moment
• By spending time out in nature with horses, people can learn to de-stress and relax, replacing ‘busy’ with conscious, alert and effective
• People can learn from horses how to manage their own natural ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ instincts
• Horses require patience and understanding to perform well, as do people.

“Horses can sense other animals’ heart rates up to 10 metres away and they can sense our moods,” says Jess. “It’s this sensitivity that I harness when working with individuals or groups that enables us to access non-judgemental information about how we are presenting to the world,” says Jess.

Learn more about how horses can help your leadership skills and general wellbeing at the Inner Rhythm website. Check the website for course dates in early 2019.

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