Use High-Impact Leadership to Deepen Your Equine Relationships

Use High-Impact Leadership to Deepen Your Equine Relationships

Submitted by: Shari Goodwin
Email Address: shari(at)
Date Added: 10/21/2019

Use High-Impact Leadership to Deepen Your Equine Relationships!*

By Shari J Goodwin

After working with hundreds of entrepreneurs and executives, I've observed certain patterns of success. I also noticed this same pattern while working with horses: the best leaders achieve great results while expending the least amount of energy. I call this the high impact zone. But how do you find the high impact zone? To better understand what was going on, I created a simple model. (see photos)

I found that three primary components drive success: a clear vision, positive fuel source, and appropriate action. All of these are also critical to your equine relationship.

Vision is your level of clarity on what you'd like to see happen. Fuel is the energy and mindset you bring to the effort: fear-based energy drives away what you want; confidence and trust-based energy draws to you what you want. Appropriate action is required to advance and achieve your goal. I've tailored this article to address my equine colleagues.

Vision, fuel and action are in constant flux while working with your horse and require intentional management. High impact leadership is leadership that balances all three to operate in the high impact zone. If one area is missing or deficient, results will be compromised as shown in the following figure. The numbers 1, 2 and 3 indicate what can happen if an area is missing or deficient. Ideally, we want to be working in the middle at X.

Here's how it can look with horses:

In number 1, you may have the perfect plan and good energy, but the critical action piece is either missing, not properly executed, or is the wrong action for the situation. This may be a result of not knowing what kind of action to take, avoiding taking the kind of action needed because of fear of perceived consequence (e.g., put a stronger leg on and risk getting bucked off!), or a lack of commitment. The equivalent of "analysis paralysis" may set in and cause you to get stuck.

In number 2, you may have great fuel but get so caught up in the execution of moment-to-moment movements, activities, or "to-do" list items, that the bigger vision gets blurry. This can happen while trying to perfect specific dressage movements, jump a certain fence, or even treat an illness or injury. Your mind may begin to fixate on that issue and prevent you from flowing into the bigger vision. You may begin to feel frustrated and get scattered results.

In number 3, you may have a clear vision, but you may be so busy practicing or teaching, drilling, taking lessons, conditioning, caring for horses, and "doing" to achieve that vision that you begin to get exhausted and start to lose the joy of being with your horse. You may begin to experience burnout.

Once you understand where you are, you can make adjustments to get to X. Getting to the high impact zone is a leadership dance around vision, fuel and action. Sometimes only a few tweaks are required, other times a full overhaul is necessary. With awareness and intention, anyone can reach X.

Using this approach, my business clients have achieved their top goals, I created a thriving business that I love, developed a trusting relationship with a hot spooky chestnut mare and competed with her in eventing, built the equestrian facility of my dreams (even after the bank rejected part of our construction loan mid-way through the build), and ex-racehorse Lemon Squeezy strolled over a formerly scary long crinkly tarp like he was walking in his field (check out the photo). The approach works for all goals - personal, professional, and equestrian. It's a simple approach, but not always easy to implement. It often requires some soul searching, releasing old patterns, limiting beliefs, and assumptions, and opening to new possibilities.

In my sessions with horses, high impact leadership results in everyone "in-step." The humans' steps synchronize with the horse. This happens automatically as everyone "steps" into a shared vision with trusting energy and walks forward together. The synchronized footfall represents the team's alignment and emerges organically. I only noticed this when observing photos following our sessions. It's pretty remarkable. Here's a series of photos of my horse Noble; I never try to match strides, it just happens as a result of being in the zone. The same happens when you are riding or doing anything with your horse, even grooming, it just looks different. However, the FEEL is the same. You are in the flow zone.

If you'd like to explore how to use this approach to deepen your equine relationship, come join us November 3, 10:00 am-12:00 pm at our farm for our seminar, "Reinvent Your Equine Relationship: 10 Tips for Peaceful Partnering." Here's the eventbrite link: I wish you the best of luck with your equine friends!

*Shari J Goodwin is a strategist, leadership coach, 2x Amazon best-selling author, horsewoman, and equine-assisted leadership coach. She has over 30 years working with people and horses and can be reached at Content for this article was adapted from her Amazon best seller, "Reinventing Greatness: Leading Yourself & Others Through Change with Confidence & Trust."

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