Tag Archives: Horsemanship

A Blank Slate

I’m a little distracted at the moment. It is that time of the year when my sleep is disturbed by the constant beep, beep, beep that demands I get out of bed, search around for my clothes, find the torch and stumble over to the yards. There I am greeted by a hopeful face (green eyes glowing back at me from the torch light) that was having a but of a rub and on hearing the house door open has been alerted to the possibility of a midnight snack.

Just occasionally the alarm has done its job and instead of the hungry hippo I am greeted by the shape of a grunting beached whale and it is on. I grab the iodine and settle in to ensure all goes smoothly.

The first of four arrived this week, at 1.00 am Monday morning to be precise. He has his whole life ahead of him, I wonder what will be written on his slate?

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The Future of Leadership or Future Leaders?

I had a discussion with a colleague about the expression “Future Leaders” the other day and as  it often is the discussion centered around our subjective interpretation. Her point was that we shouldn’t be waiting for some “future time” to become leaders, we are all potential leaders now. The seeds of leadership are in all of us, it is a matter of realizing them, not waiting for leadership to be bestowed on us sometime in the future.  That is the philosophical view that sits at the heart of what we do with the horsework at Horsanity. Providing an experience that opens people to their own internal  leadership capability and how that integrates with their outer world.

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My interpretation was not about bestowing leadership on someone in the future, but about generational change. Who will be the leaders we see “in the future” in both formal and informal positions of leadership, those at the helm of organisations , professions or social movements. The highly visible leaders. To become those visible leaders, these leaders of the future need to be opened to their leadership capability now. A reason for working not just with today’s recognised organisational leaders, but also with those at the beginning of a career, in junior positions, at University, at school. It is why I am so excited to be working with the Future Leader Ignite program of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia.


And then there is the question of what is required to be drawn forth from leaders “in the future”. What new as yet un-dreamt of challenges will they need to meet? It is thus with great interest I read a report by the World Economic Forum from the Global Agenda Council on New Models of Leadership :

Tomorrow’s leaders will need to go beyond the limits of the system within which society operates today to perceive what those systems might become”

A new leadership space is opening that

will require a profound leader journey. At the heart of this journey is an inner and outer journey. The inner journey describes how the leader learns through reflection, mentoring and practice. The outer journey describes the crucible experiences in which leadership is forged and includes challenge, risk and working at the edge of the system“.

Enter Horsanity stage right!

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I was going to say “got to love your job” but that would have been wrong on at least two counts. For a start I don’t think of what I do as “just a job”.  Having been able to meld my passion for my horses with a way to reach people and allow them to access their own passion for life through leadership, it is my life. Or part of it. The other part that has been keeping me away from the keyboard, and hence this blog, is my love of travel.

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Its been a very busy few weeks. It started with a seminar we,

Horsanity, facilitated at the magnificent

Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort in the Blue Mountains. Its an extravagantly scenic location and 5 star facilities.

WV Facilities (1024x683) Wolgan Valley (1024x683)

From there I traveled to Daylesford in Victoria to attend an Equine Psychotherapy week long intensive. This was my final seminar leading to my accreditation as an Equine Learning Practitioner, Foundation Level based on a deep understanding of Gestalt principals.

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Then after all this forced time in gorgeous locations doing something I love I just had to take a holiday! I know, its a hard life but as they say, someone has to do it. The thing is though, its about choice. I remember the day I sat in front of my coach in my former business with the tears yet again streaming down my face saying “I have no choice, I can’t leave, I have loans to pay, obligations to people, I’d be letting people down” but he didn’t let me off the hook. There is always a choice, even doing nothing is a choice.

It took me awhile but to bring it to fruition but that day I finally made the choice to live a life that fills me with joy. Well most of the time, there are somethings you just have to knuckle down and do whether you like it or not, but as long as they are in service of your real intent then that’s ok, you can survive.

So where did I end up in my travels. Well after freezing my freckles off in a cold snap in Daylesford I melted them off at the other extreme in Kakadu and Kununurra taking in the scenery and wildlife.

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Bittern'Blacka0913 (800x617) Kingfisher,Foresta0913 (800x653) Mistletoebirda0913 (800x550) A mothers work is never done Azure Kingfisher flower leaf

Reactivatiing old skills

That sinking feeling when you  take out the golf clubs. all covered in dust, take a practice swing and it just feels all wrong, or the first wobbly moments on the bike you just hired, not having ridden since a child.

For me it has been my riding. I have been surrounded by horses for years, working with the mares and youngsters but a combination of work commitments and farm/stud commitments meant that the time spent in the saddle was the thing that had to give. Sure I would climb up every now and again and go for a stroll or pretend I was doing a bit of schooling work but it was few and far between and with not a “critical” eye in sight. I decided that 2012 was going to be the year things changed and I started out the year with a bang going to a three day clinic with Harry Whitney but work and other excuses soon trickled back in so it wasn’t till August I managed another formal “intervention”. This time with Ross Jacobs for another great horsemanship clinic, but we concentrated mainly on a couple of youngsters rather doing a lot of riding.

Finally , in October, I get back to a lesson all in the saddle. Not bad really, only took me 9 months to keep good on my promise to myself to seek more outside help. Worth waiting for though.

I had two dressage lessons. That’s two more than the previous 12 years! Though you could argue they were not dressage lessons, they were barely able to ride lessons.

The instructor was Nadine Francois, originally from Belgium but now for a very long time, from Portugal, where she went to train with Nuno himself. I can only image what thoughts were going through her head as the two fat ladies waddled their way across to where she was waiting in the arena. She hid it well though and there was not a hint of despair or blame in her first question to me, no random inflection to change the meaning of the sentence. “So. What are you doing with her”. Wellll err um she has been in work for almost three weeks and this is my first lesson in 12 years. Rather than run screaming from the arena she sent us out at the walk so she could watch.

And then it was on. Two days of position, position, position. Fix your position and the horse will take care of the rest. Stop leaning forward, advance your left shoulder, keep your body on the circle, don’t give her the rein when she pulls you forward, keep your legs back, even pressure in both stirrups, play with your fingers, soften your fingers, don’t give the reins away, slow her with your rising, not the reins, stop her by stopping your body not with your hands, collect the walk then into trot, don’t duck when the plane goes over (well she didn’t actually say that). Slow her, not so much movement with your lower back, don’t push with your seat don’t block with your hands.

No wonder she has hardly any voice left, I don’t think I was paying for the lesson by the minute but by the word. No yelling or pushing, just constant consistent correction. And miraculously my poor little mare responded to my fumbling by every now and then giving me some really nice steps amongst the rest of the horror story.

My question to you is why do we do this to ourselves? Deny ourselves the things that make our hearts sing?. There is no doubt that my life is enriched by every moment I spend with my horses but I have let part of it slip by not taking the time to indulge in my original passion for riding. What could you do today to take back a bit of time from the stuff that has to be done to do the stuff you want to do. If you wait for someday to come when you will have time, you will be waiting for ever because the time bandits may change their appearance but they are always there.