Out of the Comfort Zone
Gordon feels most at home in corporate boardrooms and city wine bars. It was a big leap of faith for him to try out my Equine Assisted Learning Executive Coaching program. And here he now was standing in a field in Byron Bay surrounded by four horses who were completely ignoring him.
The session was about the life skill of self-awareness. The question Gordon wanted to know more about was, “How am I perceived by others?” I asked him to think of the horses in the field as representing a team he was working with or a client group. The horses all have different personalities and will each choose to respond to him in different ways. How they respond could be interesting to him and so I encouraged him to notice the reactions of the horses, and also when they reacted, what thoughts and feelings he had in that moment.
As Gordon approached the horses, they certainly did have different reaction. The little black pony, Shani, appeared the least impacted by his presence. Gordon was able to walk up to her and start stroking her and she stood in the same spot and kept munching her grass. The grey mare Penny walked away whenever he approached (Gordon felt it was whenever he ‘looked’ in her direction) and so he left her alone. When Thunder walked towards him, Gordon backed away and instead went over to Coco to pat her and she stayed with him and nuzzled him as he patted her.
After all of this unfolded, I asked Gordon to consider in what way this experience informed him about his question about how he was perceived by others. and what thoughts or feelings came up when he was with each of the horses. Gordon said it was a reflection of the different experiences in meeting people. In his words “I bored Shani”, “I frightened Penny”, “Thunder didn't like me”, “Coco was happy with me”. Interesting – from my knowledge of horse behavior, I was able to help Gordon gain a different perspective on how he was being ‘seen’ by the horses.
Shani felt comfortable (staying and grazing is a sign of a calm horse). Penny is the leader of this herd, she likes her own space and would not have been intimidated by him. Thunder is a young curious horse, and in approaching him felt interested in him. Coco is a friendly social horse and would have felt comfortable with him.
Gordon reflected on three lessons he had learned from the horses.
Insights he would take back to Melbourne with him and contemplate over a glass of red…