John Scott, horses on the set

“John is and always will be a cornerstone in the Alberta movie business. He has given an opportunity to an awful lot of people.” – Brent Woolsey

A third generation Alberta rancher it would be hard to find words to better introduce John. Along with running a The Scott Ranch and a number of movie locations, John has been a part of over 130 projects, including 4 Oscar winning movies. In his near 40 years in the movie industry John has been a stunt co-ordinator and performer, head wrangler, animal wrangler,  location scout, and transportation coordinator. In 2017 Scott was nominated for the Calgary Stampede Western Legacy Award.

There are few cowboys who have dealt with as many people as John, so I asked him how his experience with horses has helped him through the years.

“Never do anything that will embarrass your mother.” John Scott Grows Alberta by PattonCommunications.


JS – I think what my horses have taught me about leadership is to have patience and to assess the situation. See if the horse is comfortable with the situation what he is doing, he’ll tell you, his eyes, his ears. Just to be more observant about what is going on around you.

Well the same goes for working with people, if you are more observant working with people and what they are doing, it helps you avoid accidents. Some people need more patience than others.

TNL – Over the years in ranch life and in the movie industry: What do you believe is the most important thing the people you have worked with become aware of through working with horses?

JS – Communication – it’s one word communication – it’s how you communicate with the horse. If you come on rough and gruff right off the bat, he’s gonna get scared of you then the horse will back away from ya, if you approach in a more gentle manner then he’s going to be a little bit more inquisitive about what you want to do and try a little bit harder. And people seem to get it.

TNL – When people begin to see how the horse changes when they change, have noticed that patience shows up in their dealings with other people/

JS – If you are working with a group of people once they come to understand what you are trying to do, and accomplish they might be a bit more forth coming and bit more helpful.

Like once the horse gets to know you they’ll be fine, same with a person, once they get to know you they’ll have confidence that you are not going to hurt them.

TNL – You began with the word patience – have you found your patience has improved over the years with horses and people.

JS – It’s definitely improved with horses – some people are a little slower to catch on.

Be interesting in what they do. Same with a horse you try and pay attention and figure out what interests them. You try and read a horse you try to figure it out. One example we had a horse that we had trouble bridling. He was worried about being beat around the head and very head shy. It took us about four months for get him to over it and he had confidence in us and we were able to bridle him easily.

TNL – If there is one thing a horse could teach another human being in their interactions with other humans.

JS – Well it’s different aspects depending on what you do. Take for example Therapeutic riding they provide an outlet to experience something different. A cutting horse will give the rider quite a bit of acceleration and the rider has to plan what he wants to do and the horse has to know what he is supposed to do and they have to work together. On a bucking horse, the rider has to know what the horse’s pattern is and whether he comes out of the chute to the left or the ride, whether or he drops his shoulder.  You have to be able to assess the situation of what you want to do and what you’re are going to be doing.

TNL – Do you believe you assess the situation the same going into a meeting?

JS – Yes

Nancy Lowery has been blogging about her Leadership Learning through Horsemanship Experiences for over ten years. This series began as “One Foot in the Arena” exploring what other leaders in Calgary have learned about their leadership through their relationships with horses.

To explore how a day with horses can complement your Leadership Training programs Nancy would love to hear from you. 

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