Stay in touch to get the latest news about latest professional events, workshops, training or services organized by Be Here & Now Counseling.
Do you have an amazing team of the most competent and talented employees, but things are just not as good as you think they can be? Is productivity in your office or department suffering because of lack of collaboration, communication, or due to misunderstandings? People may be intimidated to speak up, and that’s why your team may be stuck in the patterns that aren’t serving overall goal of achieving productivity.
Equine Assisted Team Building may be the right solution for your team. Equine Assisted Learning is one of the most effective ways of learning problem solving, interpersonal, emotional, and communication skills. If you are not a horse person, you may not understand completely how this process works. If I haven’t seen it in person, it would be hard for me to understand it. The secret is in magic of horses. I use the word “magic” because horses are so much more capable of sensing what we are going through emotionally than the best therapist in the world. They are often aware of the emotions that we ourselves are not aware. Their sensitivity to emotional cues and their coolness makes them excellent team members that participate in therapeutic work and corporate team building. Basically, horses can see through us and they are cool enough that they are not in need to please us. Some might like dogs, and they are sweet, but they often want to please us as they are pack followers. Simply put, horses don’t have an interpersonal agenda (unless you have carrots or apples in your pocket).
How does Team Building work?
Our team collaborates with HR or team leader and carefully examines your team’s goals. Then we design an amazing fun and learning experience for your team prior to your team’s arrival. On the day when you arrive, we address those goals in creative ways through story telling with horses, which primes your team members for learning experience. This significantly enhances learning and retention. Then we go to the arena, where we put your team through carefully designed experiences with horses. These experiences involve various tasks that include team building based on your objectives. The members will get a chance to collaborate, problem solve, apply different skills and creativity while performing assignments with horses and other different props that we provide in the arena.
While going through various activities the dynamics that occur within your team play themselves in the arena while your team is working on these tasks. The horses are amazingly in tune with human emotions and they provide feedback right away. For instance, if there is a team member that’s unaware of how he or she comes across to others, the horses will give that feedback to him or her.
How do horses provide feedback to help your team?
Horses are very social, just like humans are. They are very capable of being in tune with their environment and sensing others’ emotions. They have evolved to do so because their survival depends on it. They are prey animals, and they see us as potential predators. While we can fool each other out by pretending, we can’t fool horses. For instance, we can smile and shake each other’s hands, while being anxious, afraid, or intensely disliking each other. Some humans are more perceptive of fakeness than others, but horses are highly sensitive. This is default for them. If they sense incompatibility between our behaviors and emotions, they want nothing to do with us.
Thus, if we instruct your team to collaborate and go through a task, horses will not collaborate with them if your team members are not truly collaborating. If the team members get to a point of collaborating harmoniously, the horses sense that energy, gather around the team, and help the team complete the tasks. Note that learning occurs here, and it’s highly effective as senses, intellect, social skills, and emotional processing are involved. It’s truly integrated experience. It’s important to note that skills obtained are not horsemanship skills. I heard numerous stories from most skilled horsemen that horses don’t collaborate with them when they are not genuine and in tune with themselves or the horse. Similarly, you can have the most skilled and talented employees, but if they are not considerate of other team members, this will create problems in your company. Productivity will suffer. This kind of dynamic will become obvious during the tasks in the arena. The process of Equine Team Building is similar to equine therapy, but with corporate work, we are more objective oriented. Read more about equine therapy here.
Experiential Learning—Powerful and Impactful
What’s powerful about this work is that your team members are learning during practicing these activities. Work in the arena is a microcosm of what’s going on in your office. Horses have different personalities just like humans do, and they can become metaphor for whatever comes up for the participants. For instance, horses may represent challenges that your team is facing or resources that are available to your team. Similarly, horses can represent people or clients of your company that are relevant to the objective of this experience.