The Role of Equines in the 21st Century

courtesy Paula Guenther

courtesy Paula Guenther

During the past month, I’ve been reading lots of material about the roles equines played in past centuries. Pack ponies in pre-nineteenth-century England featured in the most recent issue of The Partnered Pony™ Inquirer. George Washington and his mount Nelson during the War for Independence also crossed my desk for The Partnered Pony™ Inquirer. And my next article for Rural Heritage magazine has had me reviewing old harness catalogs and books with historic photos of horses being put to use in harness.

My reading on any day, though, is quite eclectic. My favorite non-equine magazine is BusinessWeek, and I’m always pleased when topics there overlap with topics on my equine reading list. A couple of articles on the business side have been about Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, because of her new book Lean In. When I was in the high tech industry, I also made a brief foray into publishing when I wrote about what it was like to be a woman in that male-dominated field. I therefore took special interest in reading what people were saying about Sandberg’s book. One comment in one article, though, overlapped with my equine interests. “Combined with her efficiency is her emotional quotient (EQ), an uncanny grasp of how people feel.” In the same article, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive officer, is quoted as saying about Sandberg, “She’s unique in that she has an extremely high IQ and EQ, and it’s just really rare to get that in a single person.” (1)

At the same time that I was reading about Sandberg and her new book, I was reading about Linda Kohanov and her new book Power of the Herd. Kohanov’s work emphasizes the ability of horses to help leaders develop their EQ. Kohanov states that the higher you go in management and leadership, the less important technical skills are and the more important EQ and social intelligence are, echoing the comments about Sandberg. Yet there are very few leadership training opportunities for EQ and social intelligence.

Kohanov makes the connection between historic leaders like Washington and leadership training for the 21st century with horses as our guides. She emphasizes that ground work with horses is sufficient for this sort of training because the lessons are about boundaries and motivation and learning to use emotion as information instead of something to be ignored or feared. Kohanov has developed her own leadership training program at her Epona Equestrain Services.  I discuss other similar programs in my previous blog post, “It’s Leadership Training.”

I look forward to learning more about this role of equines as leadership trainers in the 21st century as I explore Kohanov’s book and the associated materials accompanying its publication.

1) Luscombe, Belinda. “Confidence Woman,” Time, Vol. 181, No. 10, March 18, 2013, p. 38.

© Jenifer Morrissey, 2013

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About workponies

Breeder of Fell Ponies, teamster of work ponies, and author of Feather Notes, Fell Pony News, and A Humbling Experience: My First Few Years with Fell Ponies. Distributor of Dynamite Specialty Products for the health of our planet and the beings I share it with.
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