A Journey to Horsanity
Bringing horses into our organisational work opens possibilities never imagined
By Lynn Jenkin, Horsanity
There is of course many a journey you can go on with horses but this is mine.
Horses have lived in my imagination as long as I can remember having one; an imagination that is. I had to wait till I was 25 till a horse came permanently into my life. Since then the numbers have increased exponentially. I am convinced even geldings can multiply without human intervention.
For most of my life horses have been not just a source of fun, joy, and connection with like-minded people, they have also been my solace and refuge. So much so that when it was first suggested that I could bring the horses into my coaching work I declined to even look at it as an option.
Whilst I found my coaching work to be much more suited to my mindset than my previous career of 20 years, where I had come close to becoming not so quietly insane, I didn’t want to lose that private personal bond between me and the horses. I didn’t want to mix the two up and risk losing the groundedness the horses brought to me.
For most of my life horses have been not just a source of fun, joy, and connection with like-minded people, they have also been my solace and refuge.
A World of Insanity
I should qualify what I mean by insanity as it can be such a loaded word. I am not referring to the erstwhile use of the word to allude to people with a mental or emotional illness or the more modern use in legal terms to distinguish who can or cannot be treated as knowingly guilty of their crimes.
The insanity of which I speak can certainly lead to such things as depression and breakdown but in this case it is the cause, not the symptom. The insanity I talk of is the way in which so many of us conduct our daily lives. Lives without an appropriate balance (one that suits us), a world in which we spend our days chasing money in order to be able to live beyond our means. Where we are so busy worrying about the future, about what others think, about why we are not rich and famous like the 25 year old down the street with her App millions.
A world where we spend hours each day locked in little slow moving metal boxes all going in one direction, delivering us to a place where we feel underappreciated, overworked and lacking in in control, and then hop back into our little metal boxes to move even more slowly home again, to the house we are struggling to pay for, only to grunt at our equally stressed partners and children, if we have them.
On a greater scale, it is a world in which we are drowning in rubbish and plastics, killing our oceans, sending other creatures to extinction. A world were famine is seen as just a normal part of life, not caused just by climatic conditions but by war between competing factions, intent on controlling the people and wealth all for themselves. That is what I mean by insanity.
Horses Leading the Way
Whilst all this was brewing and churning inside me, the horses were always there, but I stopped riding them. All I had energy for was to spend time with them, just to be in their sane grounded presence. Eventually I realised that it was this contact, and all the other lessons I had learned from them over the years that was the basis of my way of coaching people.
In my training it was my capacity to be wholly present for the person I was coaching, to be able to hold a place of silence and stillness and being for them that was remarked upon (I had to work much harder and intellectually to develop questioning skills).
This was a capacity I had developed long before I actually started reading and studying anything like mediation or mindfulness. I had never heard of the luminaries of the “learning and development world.” All my life until then had been as a hard science and technical skills person. It was managing people that had become my undoing, the source of my unravelling.
A chance meeting came when I was sufficiently healed myself, from my corporate life, to start to think if the horses can do this for me, why cannot they also do it for others?
A chance meeting with my now colleague Sandra Banister came at just the right moment, the moment where I was sufficiently healed myself, from my corporate life, to start to think if the horses can do this for me, why cannot they also do it for others, with me to be the bridge between the two worlds, that of the horse and that of the organisation. Sandra brought to the equation a deep knowledge from her life’s work, developing personal and professional leadership in people, in working with organisations to be the best they could be, not just in economic terms but in supporting their people and being good corporate citizens of the world.
This is not an easy task, that is for sure, and is always ongoing, but we have found that bringing horses into our organisational work opens people up to possibilities in ways that we may never have achieved by traditional means, certainly much faster.
It stands to reason of course. Before we abandoned them in favour of combustion engines and computing power, horses had been supporting people at work for thousands of years. Not just as the means of work, but in the relationships of work. We are simply restoring them to their rightful place as developers of leaders.
Lynn Jenkin's formal coaching skills have always been informed by her relationship with her horses where communication cannot rely on words alone and she has taken this into her work with Executives and functional teams.
Certified in The Leadership Circle platform, Licensed HorseDream International Facilitator, a Equine Psychotherapy Australia (EAL) student, and Enneagram in Business, Lynn is a seeker of ideas, truths, facts, and solutions.
At the Spirit Horse Festival she will be hosting a session on Role Play or Real Play, demonstrating a model for transformative change in the way we experience the roles we take up, at work, at home, and in life.