Is your horse herd bound?

Herd Bound?

All horses are herd bound.

It seems the majority of people ride indoors and believe they can ride their horse by themselves. A different story when they try and ride away from the safety of the arena and to their surprise they realize their horse is herd bound.

A social species and a prey animal, horses know they are safer in numbers. Some horses are braver and more willing to leave the safety of the herd, others need to believe we have their best interests at heart. Will my horse be ok in our herd of two? Of course you can simply avoid the issue and only ride out with others.

But for that day when you’d just like to go for a ride, just head down the road. Without prior preparation instead of a ride you might just end up in a battle.

At clinics it’s a behavior staged as an intervention with the clinician or protégé doing the riding. It can be hair raising to watch. Get near your buddy you work your butt off, relax at the far end of the arena and you can take all the time you’d like. I’ve always wondered how strong the owner’s desire was to actually fix the problem and whether it was maintained once they returned home.

The herd bound behavior most of us deal with may not be as dramatic as the clinic demonstration but it requires the same steps.

Begin by breaking separation down into manageable steps. –
1 – At what point does the horse’s anxiety, or ours, kick in?
2 – When you find that edge how do you make it a comfortable place to be?
3 – How many times are you willing to execute the same pattern before expecting to go further?
How committed are you to the idea of being able to ride out on your own?

As you measure out your progress you might find there is what I call the magnetic zone. The point at which the draw back to the herd is no longer stronger than the belief we two will be fine together.

Going out I work on transitions as speeds are easily managed, returning home I use the edges of the road for lateral work. Shoulder in/out, leg yields, side passes, halts, backing. Using that homeward bound desire and impulsion to add direction, gaining a beautiful softness in the process.

When I’ve spent the time to help a horse feel comfortable in our herd of two, I am forging a relationship. With a destination in mind we do all the same work of round and round, it’s just more interesting. I’ve seen a number of sale ads that say, one issue is the horse can be herd bound. Hmmmm My question then “Why don’t you fix it?”

Leadership is NOT a Wardrobe Issue

Leadership is NOT a Wardrobe Issue. Considering starting a business with horses? or Perhaps you have been building a business over the years and need some inspiration?

This book was a delightful surprise for me. Nancy’s knowledge and approach to horses and horsemanship is complete and thoughtful. She then applies this awareness and understanding to her leadership programs. Her explanations and exercises are concise and creative. She caused me to think about these parallels in my own non-verbal horse/human communications. I definitely learned something, and hope that Nancy will not mind if I occasionally borrow some of her words in my clinics. Highly recommended.
Ellen Eckstein, CA, USA – Bringing it Together

choose print or digital

Leadership is NOT a Wardrobe Issue covers 4 areas

• The Business of offering Leadership with Horses,
• how an indepth knowledge of Horses & Horsemanship has influenced the work of The Natural Leader;
• Activities to complement your programs with lesson plans, coaching conversations and the lessons learned along the way;
• Coachable Moments – this section applies to those one-on-one conversations with horsemanship concepts. Coachable Moments draws from the experience Nancy has gained starting horses over the years connecting the two through questions.

What you will find in more than 100 pages of
Leadership is NOT a Wardrobe Issue?

Why Does it take a Lifetime to Learn?
• The Idea for this book
• It’s not a One Size Fits All Deal
• How Did you Get Here?
• What is the one thing you want participants to walk away with?
• An Invitation

Applying Horsemanship Principles to Leadership
• What is Horsemanship?
• Interpreting Behavior
• A Horse’s Perspective

Benefits of Leadership through Experiential Learning
• Experiential Learning
• What is a better Question?
• The Awareness Wheel
• Critical thinking
• Feeling vs Acting
• Emotional Intelligence
• W.A.I.T.
• Safety first

The Business of Creating Great Programs 
• Why Leadership Development programs fail
• Barriers to Success
• Providing Value
• What TED can offer
• Things Learned Along the Way
• How can this book help you?

In lesson plan format with Notes from the Arena – lessons learned along the way delivering leadership work

Coachable Moments
Whether you are doing one-on-one work or working with an individual within a group. Sometimes you need to pull out a specific concept or idea that will resonate for that individual.


Leadership is NOT a Wardrobe Issue Nancy will provide any additional supporting materials to help you get to the next step.

eBook – digital download

prices are in Canadian dollars; Canadian clients GST will apply.

Read More
horse doesn't know how to lie

A horse doesn’t know how to lie – Murray McGonigle

Murray is a storyteller. A skill he no doubt employed over his thirty year career in the power line industry. “I would have to say storytelling comes from my father he answered most questions with a story. You had to find the answer in the story, if you didn’t you probably weren’t ready or needing the answer anyhow.”

I’ve heard many a tale this past year and we have covered many topics, most which end back at the importance of reading a horse. We share the goal of a bridle horse, Murray just happens to be a lot further along.

Read More
Buck Branmnaman Bozeman 2017

Observe, Remember, Compare – Buck Brannaman

Horses have always been a part of his life. From the age of 12 Buck Brannaman has been starting horses, before that he was an accomplished trick roper. The past 35 years Buck has lived most of the year on the road crossing the United States, visiting Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and even Japan sharing his experience and helping people better understand how to get along with their horses. In 2011 the film Buck documenting Bucks life and work, launched to critical acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival.

Buck is a leader in the horsemanship field and I have watched his progression as a teacher through the past dozen or so years. I have always said to be good with horses you have to be great with people, Buck is both. My annual trek, with and without horses, down to listen, learn and ride with him in Montana has become part of my own professional development.

After a long day in the sun, with temperatures well into the mid 30sC, as is typical of his good nature Buck agreed to answer a few questions.

Read More
patience in the saddle

Learning Patience in the Saddle – Luree Williamson

For me, it is easy to get back in the saddle, it is however, more challenging to get back at the keyboard! The first half of the year for The Natural Leader has been brilliantly busy and the arrival of spring all consumed with projects that waited for six months. Early spring is the bug free season so time to catch up on those long rides!

The next conversation about leadership learning from a horse is with Luree Williamson, CEO Agriculture for Life. Luree’s life has long been influenced by horses. Her current role is dedicated to bringing a better understanding and appreciation of agriculture and it’s connection to all Albertan’s through the delivery of agriculture education and farm safety programs.

Read More

One Foot in the Hills – Lowy Gunnewiek

There is no other farming practice more disciplined than dairy, twice a day, 365 days a year the cows are milked, fed and cared for. It was this daily routine of the family farm that helped fuel Lowy Gunnewiek’s interest and completion of a degree in Mechanical Engineering at Ryerson and then University of Waterloo .

Many years and successes later, Lowy’s current role is President and CEO of Sproule. It is the weekend trips to his ranch in southern Alberta that offer a respite from a busy international travel schedule. Where once again the rhythm of animals influence the pace, this time less regimented. Riding the hills have become a place to clear his mind and bring focus, the horses Lowy finds, help him “see things from a whole different perspective”.

Read More
AllisonWright Calgary Stampede

One Foot at the Calgary Stampede

20 years ago October, Allison Wright handed over her Stampede Crown and began a career with the Calgary Stampede. Starting in the accounting department, she got a grasp on the numbers of running a year round facility and The Greatest Show on Earth. Over the years Allison has held a number of positions in Agriculture Programming and now heads up the Mid-way portfolio. She describes her responsibility as “The guest experience from Gates to Corndogs and everything in between.” For ten days each year Allison’s team grows from 4 to over 800. How do you manage the commitment of that size? Well Allison believes you need to be an adrenalin junkie and love chaos.

Read More
Present in a Relationship

Being Present in a Relationship

Being Present in a Relationship

From saddling Rhys to regaining consciousness on the ground, I had no memory of what happened.

I was asking the same questions over and over, symptoms of a serious concussion.

In emergency, that diagnosis also included hairline vertebra fractures.

Had I landed differently this could have been a whole different story.

Read More

The Games People Play with Horses

Our first publication The Games People Play with Horses – a series of activities in lesson planning format.

A two Volume series of activities for effective learning with equines. Each Volume contains the combined wisdom of five different practitioners of experiential learning with horses providing 16 different activities in lesson planning format.

eBooks Volume 1&2 Two eBooks

$64.95 +Taxes where applicable.

Looking for more reference tools? Check out In Business to Define a guide to marketing your equine business and Creating Exceptional Leaders through Learning with Horses a facilitators guide to developing a 1 or 2 day program.