Managers, think about coaching … with a horse

In Fouchères, a small village in the Yonne, Horsedev welcomes managers in seminars with a conviction: the horse is a powerful indicator of our ability to influence. Because we do not lead this 600 kg animal by force, but only thanks to our talents of persuasion. Explanations in pictures with three equicoaching exercises.

Working in freedom: persuading with your body language

“After making contact with the loose horse, you will ask him, without the help of speech, to turn on the track with both hands and three gaits”, announces Fanny Lelièvre, equestrian coach and riding instructor, who offers the demonstration. It is not a question here of accomplishing technical prowess but of analyzing our body language and the not always controlled messages which we send. “The horse is very receptive to the energy that we will deploy to set it in motion, underlines Fanny Lelièvre. It also perceives fear, anger, distraction, all these unassumed emotions that show through in our movements.” A biped too agitated will cause panic, another too lymphatic will leave the animal indifferent …

The eye of Patricia Barenfeld, coach: “Although we know that 70% of communication is non-verbal, we have very little awareness of the signals we emit. Sometimes our attitude expresses the opposite of what we say! With horses as in business, the influential leader seeks congruence – his actions, words and body language go in the same direction. He is also the one who finds the “good distance” with his collaborators. Neither too close, one would then consider him as a simple friend, nor too far, risking fear, anger, or losing contact with others. “

Slalom: managing pressure to better guide

“By guiding the horse by the halter, we direct it on a precise path, as quickly as possible and taking care not to hit the studs”, encourages Fanny Lelièvre. This exercise requires precision, attention to the other – your horse, with its four legs, takes up much more space than yours – and a sense of timing. Too wide a turn wastes time; too short, and the studs are knocked over. The challenge is to find the right balance between these opposing constraints, taking into account the skill of your horse.

The coach's eye: “Juggling with contradictory demands is the daily life of the manager. And yet, on the correct resolution of this equation depends the value of his leadership. Here, the horse wants to do well. And if he makes mistakes, it is because his “guide” has made bad choices or has not taken into account his skills. The good leader is able to define a strategy in an emergency, by showing self-control and without passing on the pressure in an anarchic way on When a horse is repeatedly put in failure because it has been given contradictory orders or asked for more than it could give, it sometimes “breaks”, physically or psychologically. It is the equivalent of burnout in a business. Subject to too much pressure and an insoluble conflict of values, the employee is exhausted. At the source of these accidents: big management errors. “

The game of the colored curtain: convincing with confidence

This game consists of passing a guided horse in a halter under a colored plastic curtain. Nothing simpler at first sight. Except that … “In nature, the horse is a prey, reminds Fanny Lelièvre. He is therefore naturally fearful in the face of what he does not know, and endowed with a phenomenal flight instinct!” If the reaction varies according to the equines, most will mark a retreat, even manifest a frank worry vis-a-vis this innovation whose noise, color and aspect seem to him suspect. “Never a small autocratic chief will succeed by force to make pass a horse which is afraid under the curtain, says Fanny Lelièvre while smiling. On the other hand, if, by remaining assertive, you succeed in reassuring it gradually, if you cross the Obstacle first and persuade him that he is safe by your side, he will follow you. “

The coach's eye: “Within the walls of a company as in a merry-go-round, new things scare people. By forcing employees to leave their comfort zone, it creates resistance or opposition. How to manage change? The” curtain game “underlines the failure of pure balance of power and demonstrates that the sense of observation and the capacity for empathy – identifying the source of your interlocutor's apprehensions, analyzing the situation to provide an appropriate response – work wonders. more gradual approach, building trust is a key success factor. “

Equicoaching, instructions for use

Equicoaching brings together riding professionals and traditional coaches. “The horses are carefully chosen for their proximity to humans, their sensitivity, but also their safety,” emphasizes Fanny Lelièvre. After a first session which often arouses emotion, we immediately make the link between the situation experienced and the history of the person, the context of his coming. There is first an individual debriefing, then a collective “, explains Patricia Barenfeld. Unlike equitherapy, which continues over time, equicoaching is punctual: one or two sessions are enough. “The horse acts as a revelator, underlines Patricia Barenfeld. Participants can draw their conclusions and request, if they wish, more traditional support.”


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