I have been riding horses since I was a young boy, and I continue to learn many profound lessons from horseback riding.
Recently I’ve had some time to ride horses with my children. Here are two lessons on leadership that we learned.
You can lie to yourself but you can’t lie to your horse. A horse can immediately sense your uncertainty and fear. To ride a horse the horse must acknowledges that you are in charge. A horse is an animal of hundreds, sometimes thousands of pounds of solid muscle. The only reason why it would allow a 100-200 pound person to control it is if it recognizes your authority. But that certainty doesn’t come from physical size or force, it comes from your spirit. If the rider’s mind is unsettled, even simple exercise become major ordeals. Thus, it is important for a rider to know his mind and keep it stable. No matter how you pretend, your horse can see right through you. Your spirit influences how well you can ride. If a horse can’t respect you, if it can’t trust you, it will not allow you to lead.
There are no shortcuts to becoming a good rider. It takes patience and sincere investment into yourself and your relationship with your horse. To be a good rider, you have to genuinely care about your horse and be certain of yourself and the direction in which you are leading. Only then can you and the horse become one. It is the same with people. There are no shortcuts to leadership. You can pretend to lead, but in the end, only genuine people of character and vision can really move people’s hearts.
We should expose ourselves and our children to such first-hand, experiential learning opportunities with nature. These experiences teach not just our minds, but our body and soul the principles of the universe.